HTG Peer Groups, together we are more than the sum of the parts!
The power of peer.
Rewind back to the spring of 2008, CompuConsult decided it was time to take our business to the next level, start the climb up the ladder of success and engage with the Heartland Technology Peer groups. I had heard many great things about HTG and decided it was time for CompuConsult to share in the fruits of success that many of our peers were experiencing. I always thought that I was doing well; I knew what I needed to do, but the reality was that I only knew what I knew and needed to expand the circle of influence and trust. More importantly, the concept of a board of advisors that held me accountable was what I needed.
HTG is where many of the top IT firms from across the globe come together to focus on the growth of their businesses and openly share best practices for the greater good of our business community.
The end of 2007 and 2008 was a turbulent year for CompuConsult. I knew that we could use some guidance, as we were just starting to work “on the business” instead of “in the business”. My experience with a local peer group run by Powerhouse International taught me that we can learn a tremendous amount from other small business owners and no one has a monopoly on great ideas. I can tell you that reading e-Myth by Michael Gerber; definitely changed my perception of running a business that had organically grown to more than one million dollars per year.
In early 2008, CompuConsult struggled with many of the same challenges that all technology firms faced. The loss of key personnel was having a negative impact on our business and on my own entrepreneurial spirit. My business changed from being a joy to more than somewhat stressful! I knew it was time to find others that can help me along the journey.
In June 2008 HTG Canada was launched. The first meeting was held right in our backyard, literally down the street from our office location in Calgary. I had the pleasure to meet peers from Ottawa, the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary, Red Deer, Vancouver and Edmonton. This was one of the first opportunities I had to invest time with leading IT firms throughout Canada who were open to sharing, giving and learning. They were combating many of the same challenges we faced at CompuConsult.
A deal was struck with my friend and trusted colleague Jeff Anderson from Bulletproof Networks, a Red Deer based business very similar to CompuConsult, to join HTG10 and share our experience in the same peer group. Jeff and I had met a few years earlier at SMB Nation in Seattle, organized by Harry Brelsford.
Bulletproof and CompuConsult started to work together on a joint client with locations in both Red Deer and Calgary. Jeff brought some great skills to the table with his analytical mindset on how to serve the information technology needs of small businesses. I was amazed to learn how aligned our businesses were, and started to entertain the idea that the sum would be worth more than the sum the parts.
It became clear to me that Bulletproof’s practical business solution would have an immediate impact with our clients. Bulletproof virtualizes every new server installation to accomplish a fast disaster recovery scenario, which is a unique approach that reduces the clients down time in case of a server failure and lessen the impact that a technology failure has, on a small business.
An immediate lesson learned, from our involvement in HTG, is that business is about serving others, putting the needs of our clients before our own needs. However HTG also showed us that we cannot serve the needs of the Calgary business community without first strapping on our own oxygen mask, and making sure we had a healthy, viable and strong business.
After our first peer group meeting in Calgary we started to entertain the idea of joining forces together, as it seemed that there was a lot of duplication of effort going on between our offices. Fast forward three month to our peer group meeting in Orlando Florida, right after the ConnectWise conference, the idea became more serious.
Jeff and I invested heavily in the idea of the merger of our two firms. We met every week to determine our personal and business mission, vision and goals and we finally reached the concept became a reality in a January of 2009. The new company Bulletproof InfoTech was set to start on February 1st and Stuart Crawford would join us as a partner to provide the marketing machine.
I can honestly say that this would not have happened without the opportunity to collaborate in our HTG 10 peer group. Arlin Sorensen, the visionary who started this movement based on the idea that together, we are more than the sum of the parts, has my eternal gratitude for making it happen. Stuart Crawford, our HTG 10 facilitator has taught me that networking not only with (prospective) customers, but also with vendors and yes, even competitors can really help to grow your business!
When Jeff, Stuart and I had an opportunity to do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) in Vancouver, we all used our own resources to help Jasminder of JIO Infotech. This was a great opportunity for us to see how we would be able to work together achieving a common goal and understand what motivates us. Another great lesson from HTG was how to use something as easy as a $20.00 book can help our business. The Strengthsfinder 2.0 book provided us with a deep and firm understanding of our strengths. Plus, how to best use these strengths as Bulletproof InfoTech goes forward.
It was not easy to give up my company name, or the president title. We consulted with many of our peers and professionals to decide what new company name to go forward with. With the right tools now in place, we evaluated everyone’s strengths to assign our areas of responsibility and the right fit for our success. I truly believe that we have the right people on our management bus, and the right focus to serve the needs of the business community throughout Alberta. We are just over two months in to our merger, there is definitely more work to be done, and there always will be.
Although I am not a 100% owner of the business anymore, I am now a part owner of a larger company. This also means that I don’t have to wear all management hats anymore. Bulletproof InfoTech is well positioned to take IT Services to the next level. Our merger is a HTG peer group success story. If you, as a small business owner, can overcome your own limited horizon and truly engage with other partners (or merge with one of them), the result will be greater than the sum of the parts!