The ‘comfort trap’

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

The paths to growth may vary, but growth is a must for solution providers with any hope of success.

Artech’s Poddar addresses the "comfort trap" by asking for help. "The most successful business people seem to have a natural inner drive that others can never develop," she said. "However, I can suggest that companies should reach out to management-consulting firms that can help keep them focused and assist in the creation and tracking of high-end strategies and tactical to-do lists.

A good consulting firm can keep a small or startup firm motivated and compensate for lack in strengths in one area or another."

Climbing the pyramid
While the beliefs and practices of Infosys, Artech and Powersolution.com—in growing their businesses—provide good examples of paths to follow, one issue remains: How to move up the pyramid from masses and boutique players at the bottom to share space with the major movers in the industry?

It takes more than just success and Touchbase’s Maynard has a theory: "To get to your first $1 million is difficult, to get to $10 million is very difficult, to get to $50 million is almost impossible, but once you get to $100 million, it seems to get slightly easier to grow. I think this is because the transition from small to medium means a huge change in the way the business is run and the systems that underpin it. Once this is achieved successfully, the next levels of growth become easier as you have the structure and systems in place."

Neudesic’s Marshall has a different take: "As a company grows and enters that chasm, a great deal of interest is generated about that business. Once that level of revenue is achieved, the company becomes a target for acquisition and is most likely to be gobbled up by one of the major players in the industry—or grow because of an infusion of venture capital. Either way, the company ceases to exist as a familiar entity and, indeed, does jump the chasm."

Marshall may be onto something: The majority of the larger players in the market were created by mergers, acquisitions and outside investments. That raises a question for solution providers: Which path to success makes sense for you?

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com