Case Study

Case Study: Take Networking Beyond The Data Center

By Gennifer Biggs, Business Solutions magazine

When I talk with VARs, nearly all of them admit to struggling with the pure business side of their practice — the financial aspects, marketing tasks, hiring and human resources, and more. The technology is the "easy" part. Such was the case when Doug Grosfield, president and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, decided to launch his own IT firm along with two partners. Now, after joining commerce support organizations and investing in professional business coaching, the company is well on its way to becoming the $10M company it strives to be and building its success on a solid business foundation.

"When we first started out, we didn't know anything about business, and a financial key indicator was — hey, our bank account is going up," explains Grosfield. "To help, we found business coaches with strong financial backgrounds, and they forced us to look at the right metrics — that process shines a light on things we didn't even know we were doing wrong." But before the company found professional help, it started to expand its network of business contacts by seeking groups such as local chambers of commerce and regional IT networking organizations, all geared toward assisting fledgling companies to succeed. Xylotek first joined the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, which Grosfield says was surprisingly inexpensive. One of the largest chambers in Canada, the Kitchener Waterloo chamber, which has 1,900 members, costs Xylotek only $400 per year. "We felt it was a good starting point for us — as a small business — to access the many resources they have available to help us understand what makes a business successful," says Chris Pickard, COO for Xylotek. "We were looking for things like tax advice and recruitment advice, and the chamber helped us with those projects," says Grosfield. Although many members in the chamber are not in the IT industry, most of them face the same challenges as Xylotek. "We are all trying to grow our businesses; we all need help with similar issues," he adds. "We can take solutions other industries discovered and apply them to our business, so being able to draw on a greater pool of experience has been very beneficial."

Used with permission from Business Solutions magazine.

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