Article by: Dustin B. Cisneros, CEO of RackNerd
Recently, in the hosting industry, I’ve noticed that there have been some providers who were doing very well for a period of time, quickly fall down the ranks. As an actual example, there have been several providers who were gaining popularity very quickly in the hosting industry that did very well in prior years, but they failed to maintain the same level of persistence and momentum. As such, this is a trickle-down effect which resulted to declines in customer satisfaction and service quality. The intent of this post is to really evaluate and understand why someone can find themselves in such a condition to begin with, and how you can avoid that for your own business.
On the other hand, we’ve seen some providers do very well. In between, there have also been sincere and humble business owners who are willing to learn and expand their knowledge, and have asked within the community for advice on how they can grow and take their business to the next level. So I decided to make a post about this very topic based upon my own experiences and what I’ve found to work well.
I’m not going to sit here and claim that I’m perfect and know everything, that is not the intent of this post. The goal is to truly help others based on what I know works. If you know something else that works as a fellow business owner, I’m all ears! Everything about what I’m about to share is all coming from direct and first hand experience in operating my server hosting company, RackNerd. For those who don’t know about RackNerd, RackNerd has experienced tremendous growth in the marketplace. We were recently voted (for the second year in a row) by a popular web hosting community, even under stringent voting requirements, as the #1 Top Provider + #1 Most Professional Provider. RackNerd is poised to be officially listed on the Inc5000 having generated multi-million dollars in revenue on a consistent basis annually, and is on an upward growth trend. We’ve grown to multiple dozens of staff with a footprint of 20+ datacenter locations. We are continuing to see large levels of growth year over year, and none of this happened by mistake or by accident. This is all intentional growth, and requires massive action and commitment behind the scenes in order to pull off.
In this post, I want to share with the community as a fellow business owner some tips on how you can keep your business not only growing, but consistently growing. There’s no such thing as something staying the same, at least not in the long term. You can only stay stagnant for so long before things start declining for the worse. I want to see less businesses trend downhill. The end result will be better businesses, and better experiences for consumers in the hosting industry.
The purpose of this post is to help hosting providers and business owners improve their condition, and by direct effect, improve the ultimate customer end-experience. You may be asking yourself, why I would take the time to share my advice to potentially help some competitors out, but I’m a firm believer that there is plenty of business out there for everyone, and if I can help a fellow business owner succeed, then personally, that is something I’m happy to have positively contributed towards. This is not the first time I’ve helped other fellow providers in the industry out, and not going to be my last time either. To me, the journey of running a successful business also means sharing the knowledge you gain along the way and helping others wherever you can. In the end, this positively impacts the community for the better, from both a provider level and an end-user level.
Here are five reasons why I’ve noticed businesses tend to either fail or stay stagnant in their growth.
Reason #1: Caught Up In the Game of the ROI
I see far too many folks who claim they are “gurus” and business owners caught up in the game of ROI (return on investment), and the end result? They end up getting too conservative/scared to do anything! I ask this instead, “what is the ROI of not doing anything?”
The only “ROI” I am interested in is if more people are getting to know my business, my brand, and our mission to help and service more people. So instead of calculating an ROI, I make a decision based on this fact: Is it helping increase my brand awareness? Is it bringing my business in front of more people?
Look, I’m not saying you should be making unintelligent or uncalculated decisions, but the point here being, I’m just trying to shift your mindset a bit to start thinking about ways on how you can get creative as a business owner, and I want for you to realize that being conservative does not always pay off. While it is important to make calculated and strategic business decisions, being conservative is not an action that I would want to be stuck at for long, it can slow down and hinder growth!
Your business’ survival and success is highly dependent upon this! Remember this key fact: If people don’t know you, they won’t do business with you.
So next time, instead of getting caught up in the calculations and finding yourself sunk into conservation mode, ask yourself: What is the ROI on not doing anything? Go out there, and do it! It’s your duty as a business owner.
Reason #2: Being Negative
You may not realize this, but if you as a business owner are being negative in your tone level, that negativity will seep into your business (and all areas of your life) before you realize it.
The importance of your attitude cannot be overlooked and I cannot emphasize this important point enough.
So here’s what I want you to do. Honestly ask yourself: Are you chronically a positive or a negative person?
If you find yourself being negative more often than you are positive (whether in business, or other areas of life), then try the following things to help combat that negativity:
- Use enthusiasm in every action. This will go a long way, and your customers can feel that enthusiasm and passion from the other end as well.
- Write your goals down every morning. And just when you think you’re done writing your goals down, shoot for more and write even larger goals. Think bigger. As the famous saying goes: Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
- Confront your weaknesses. Whether that means increasing your knowledge, or hiring more talent to help complement your weaknesses with your strengths, you need to do something to confront your weaknesses.
- Stay committed. Don’t leave any white space on your calendar, and stay fully committed to your business like your life depends on it.
- Surround yourself with positive people, and positive reminders. Have a look around and ask yourself if your environment is generally a positive or a negative one. What about the people you communicate and hang out with the most? It is very well possible that your physical environment (or the people you surround yourself with) is causing you to be negative, and as a result, causing your production levels to decrease.
Remember, being positive doesn’t cost you anything. Being negative, however, will cost you big without you realizing it. So give this a try, and I guarantee you, you will not only feel much better as a person, but you will see the increase in production and results within your business!
Reason #3: Not Investing in Your Operation
I’ve seen across many industries business owners simply failing to invest in their operations, such as their support team. Are you delivering a solid service to your existing customers? Can you confidently say it is a service that your customers can count on now and down the road? Is your organization’s operations properly structured?
For example, my company, RackNerd invests heavily in our operations and support team. We take pride in providing true, 24×7 support that our customers can rely on. We have an excellent reputation for our rapid support response times, with our average response time being around 10 minutes, no matter the time you contact us. Not only are we well-staffed on every shift, but we invest in team building and knowledge (we believe that knowledge is power, and empower our staff to grow their personal knowledge). Our skills and competence were also recently acknowledged and certified by cPanel (RackNerd is now a Certified cPanel Partner).
This goes beyond just staffing as well – for example, you could be inefficient simply hiring a bunch of staff who aren’t properly trained or equipped to handle their responsibilities. Does your staff acknowledge and recognize their own strengths and weaknesses? Are you investing in training your staff and providing them with the knowledge and tools they need in order to be successful and efficient?
Even during one of our busiest times (for example, last year’s Black Friday) – RackNerd was still able to maintain our commitment to providing fast and competent support, and our operations continued along without any hiccups, despite the increased workload and large influx of new customers.
If you fail to maintain a relationship with your customers and the communities you’re servicing, you’re ultimately going to suffer from it. We invest our time in ensuring our customers are properly attended to, and ultimately ensuring their satisfaction. It’s not just about us in the operation – but also the customer, we understand that happy customers are the reason why we exist.
So as a business owner, I want you to make a decision to invest in your operation. What could that be for you? Could it be more training/resources, or could it be hiring more staff? Or could it mean just better organization, documentation, and structuring within your operations?
Reason #4: Not Confronting Sales
Oftentimes, the word “sales” tends to have a bad stigma attached to it, but it’s time to let the past go and confront the reality. The reality is, a business requires sales and customers in order for it to be a business. Without sales, a business would cease to exist.
RackNerd has diverse talent on our team, and we understand that not one person can help everyone by themselves, nor answer every question by themselves (we’re all human, and it’s important to realize as a business owner that every individual will have their own strengths – and that will vary from individual to individual). For example, if one employee may not have the immediate answer or solution to a problem, we have other staff on every shift that can, in order to quickly provide our customers with the answers and solutions they’re after. Our team supplements and strengthens each other, and we all share in the same goal of empowering our customers.
How can you better manage your sales process and increase your sales production? As a business owner, while you are going through the process of sales growth, it’s also important for you not to lose sight of everything else that matters, from an operations standpoint. What does that mean to your business and your situation? Perhaps it might mean onboarding more staff, or perhaps it might mean more commitment from you as a business owner.
Reason #5: Delegating Too Much
This point I’m about to touch on mostly applies to the medium sized businesses who find themselves seemingly stuck at the same level or feel that their business growth is stagnant. Ask yourself: Are you delegating too much?
I talked about this in a previous interview before, but I cannot stress this enough. This is monumental to ensuring your business does not get stagnant in growth. Realize that as a business owner, you are the captain – you need to be in complete control of every area of the ship, so to speak. This is not to say you need to do everything yourself, you definitely need a team.
However, I’m a firm believer that there are certain things that you absolutely should not “delegate” as a business owner. I see too many business owners, after achieving a certain level of success or growth, sitting back passively, trusting that “somebody’s got it taken care of.” They operate from a 30,000 feet helicopter view, rather than getting involved in their business. This is the worst mistake you can possibly make as a business owner, because trust me, you will pay for it in the long run without you even noticing it.
The way I operate my business is that I want to see for myself and know for sure that things are not only being handled, but being handled properly. Additionally, clients always have an open direct line of connection with me, and I always invite anyone to reach out to me directly. Every component of your business should be managed as if your life depended on it, so know every single detail about your company. As a business owner, you have developed a certain eye for things that even your best employees won’t have. So if you’re finding yourself possibly delegating too much, figure out how you can increase your involvement, because no job is beneath you.
If this helped you out in any way, or if you have any questions/thoughts, feel free to reach out to me: dustin [@] racknerd.com or on LinkedIn – I am happy to connect with fellow business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Let’s go out there and keep crushing it!
Dustin B. Cisneros
Founder & CEO of RackNerd
dustin [@] racknerd.com