From The Editor | January 9, 2019

VARs: What Is Your Plan B?

Abby Sorensen July 2017 Headshot

By Abby Sorensen, Chief Editor

Getting to True Agile IRT: 5 Questions To Ask Your IRT Vendor

“By using other people’s experiences to shape your decision making, you have the benefit of their mistakes, their blood, sweat, and tears. They have already waded into the water to test for jellyfish while you’ve been watching from the shore with a gin and tonic in hand.”

That is my favorite quote from the four books discussed on the “On The Edge” podcast in the past few months. Even though I prefer margaritas over gin, this quote speaks to core of our editorial mission at the Business Solutions Network. The content we write and the guest columns we published are designed to test the waters for you – to show you what other solutions providers are doing and what lessons they’ve learned. Our hope is you can apply aspects of our content to your own business.

The quote comes from Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model by John Mullins and Randy Komisar. I shared my thoughts on the book on the podcast hosted by Jim Roddy, Reseller & ISV Business Advisor at PaymentsEdge Advisory Services with Worldpay. Jim and I – along with POS industry veterans Sean Buckley of Vend and Jeremy Julian of CBS NorthStar – dig in to how the book applies to POS resellers and software companies. You can listen to the episode below.

The book uses case studies from both successful and failed companies to explain why a traditional “business plan” isn’t the best way to build or grow a company. The authors give in-depth examples and explanations of the five key components of a business model (revenue, gross margin, operating model, working capital, and investment). This is a must-read for leaders in the channel who come from a tech background and not from a business background. And even if your business is humming along, it’s a great refresher to start off 2019 on the right foot.

Here are some of my favorite takeaways for VARs from Getting To Plan B:

  • The authors say, “Your pricing need not – and should not – be driven simply by cost.” This is fitting, since the second most popular article published on in 2018 was titled “The Dangers Of Warning Your Clients About Price Increases.” Many VARs are wary about increasing prices (thus they are eagerly reading content to confirm their fears). But raising prices is part of being in business, and your prices should reflect the value your services provide to customers.
  • “It doesn’t matter how clever your products, if you haven’t got cash on hand to keep your business moving, you’ll be out of business.” Sure, its important for your business to be profitable. But this quote explains why cash is king. Software exists to help you automate and analyze your billing practices, so there is no excuse for missing out on the cash your customers owe you.
  • My favorite case study in the book was about Go Airlines, which was created as a low-cost airline within British Airlines. Instead of looking to competitor airlines, the leaders of Go followed examples from the banking industry and based early decisions on that comparison. Finding examples from outside your industry means competitors within your industry are less likely to have thought of that idea. Don’t just compare your business to what other VARs are doing – take a look at verticals like healthcare, retail, education, and manufacturing to get ideas.

The “On The Edge” podcast is designed for POS executives with a goal to educate them on leadership, management, hiring, sales, and other SMB best practices. You can listen to past episodes on iTunes or Stitcher, including discussions about:

  • Built To Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
  • Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Success by Kenneth Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles
  • The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

To make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.