For entrepreneurial CEOs seeking advice on how to grow their solution provider business, there's no better resource than their peers.
"I find the job of CEO is an extraordinarily lonely position," said Les Trachtman, who took the CEO reins at Force 3, a Crofton, Md.-based solution provider, on Jan. 1. He replaced Rocky Cintron, who founded the company 21 years ago. While the company has grown to nearly 300 employees in that time, Trachtman's charge is to take it to the next level.
Cintron and Trachtman are both involved with 10X CEO (10xCEO.com), a Reno, Nev.-based organization that develops training programs and other resources for CEOs at fast-growing companies.
The Force 3 executives have used the peer group as a sounding board for "pretty much every major strategy" the company has undertaken in the past dozen years, Trachtman said. Executives submit project plans and strategic initiatives and get "very candid comments" in return, he said.
One example: Last year, Force 3 acquired SecureRAD, a developer of medical imaging solutions. Trachtman posed two other possible acquisitions to 10X CEO members and the feedback was "not to proceed," he said.
Another resource specifically for growing solution providers is Harlan, Iowa-based HTG Peer Groups (htgpeergroups.com), which organizes peer groups of 10 to 12 like-minded IT reseller executives who meet quarterly to network and discuss issues they may be wrestling with. San Diego-based Vistage (vistage.com) also operates peer advisory groups for business leaders. And those seeking an international perspective should check out New York-based Endeavor Global (endeavor.org) and its "high-impact entrepreneurship model."
There are thousands of books geared toward helping executives be better managers and grow their companies. Solution providers told CRN about some of their favorites.
"Mastering The Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do To Increase The Value Of Your Growing Firm" by Verne Harnish was on several executives' lists. Harnish also operates Gazelles Inc., which provides executive education, coaching and technology services for midmarket companies as well as a number of free "growth tools" to help entrepreneurs get organized and disciplined (gazelles.com).
On the marketing side, several executives pointed to "Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, which provides advice on how to generate demand in uncontested market spaces. And Harnish himself cited Regis McKenna's classic "The Regis Touch" as an indispensable guide for developing marketing strategies.
PUBLISHED JAN. 22, 2012