Finding Myself My Own New Adventure

By Dave Sobel

So this is my last column with Channel Insider. After selling my MSP, I’ve taken a new role as the Director of Partner Community with Level Platforms, and the leap to the vendor side of the channel changes things for me.

In my last article, I talked a bit about the solution provider itself, and the perspective I gained on my own business. With this, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the changes in myself, and how my perspective led me here.

When I started my solution provider in 2002, taking my former side consulting business and deciding to build the company, my plan was simple. I intended to look for monthly customers – before I was savvy enough to call it Monthly Recurring Revenue – and I intended to find work that I could hire others to do, and my role would be to find business and manage it. A simple plan.

Through 2005, we simply marched to that beat, and like many solution providers, we made do with a collection of open source, Microsoft, and manual processes to deliver on our promises. In 2005, I began engaging with the larger "channel", and learning and growing the business with a better plan. In 2007, I joined HTG, and planning began to take on a new meaning. As that group progressed, I sharpened my skills around financial management and planning, which ultimately led to me being well positioned to sell my organization.

With the engagement with the channel, however, brought other new opportunities I hadn’t expected. As I personally engaged more and more, and listened to my own personal mantra "That to claim to be a leader, one must lead", I found myself moving from participant at events to more active engagement, and finally to true collaboration. Where once I was a participant, I found myself more often a speaker, presenter, or panelist. And I enjoyed each and every engagement more and more.

I learned far more than I ever "taught", and every time I had the opportunity to speak or present, I had the chance to engage with even more people, learning from their experiences and deepening my own knowledge. It proved to be a delight, and something I looked forward to. Something I enjoyed, something that moved my brain and challenged me each time.

It was, however, not always my job. It had impact on my organization in a positive way, but was not always "revenue generating". That disconnect between activities that I enjoyed, yet were not always in alignment with my role to expand and grow the organization, was a constant source of friction.

My decision to move in a new direction came during the planning exercises for 2012. I recognized what I needed to do for my solution provider – it needed strong leadership to deliver the services component, and it needed additional technical resources. This wasn’t a simple hire, but rather an organization shift to take it to the next level. After exploring both acquisition and being acquired, it became clear that being acquired was the right move for the company.

But it wasn’t necessarily the right move for me.

It was difficult to internalize that initially, as entrepreneurs often think we can solve any problem and simply find the opportunity. In the end, that’s exactly what I did – find something that was in alignment for my company and team, and also find something that was in alignment for me personally. That came in two steps; first, executing on the acquisition of the company, and then second, finding myself my own next adventure.

I’m excited that I managed to find alignment for both. My company, customers and staff are with an organization focused on delivering the highest quality of service. And for myself, I’ve found a position where I can be a resource to the community, linking partners together, learning from them, and being engaged to help them be more and more successful.

The lesson I learned from this is that of alignment – just as we talk about the idea of managed services putting solution providers needs and customers’ needs together, so too must individuals in organizations also have their needs met by the plan of the organization. And it’s not a bad thing to make a change if the alignment isn’t there. In fact, it’s best for everyone.

So I’m off to my next adventure, and have thoroughly enjoyed this one. I look forward to learning more and more, and appreciate the opportunity here to spread my own drivel, rants and raves in this forum. Thank you for taking the time to read them – they’ve been wonderful to write.

This article was originally published on 2012-02-04