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Blake founded Colorado Computer Support (CCS) in 2001 to help organizations in and around Colorado Springs improve their productivity and efficiency by leveraging the right technology.
Blake’s journey in IT started 35 years ago.
Blake has always been intrigued by technology. When he was a teenager, he and his father built televisions together. After Blake graduated from the University of Colorado, he went into the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps for ten years. He started out in the healthcare administration, but due to his love of technology, he moved over to systems administration for Army hospitals in Alaska. At that time, the Army was using Windows 3.5, Novell and Windows NT 4.0. Blake’s first NCOC certification was in NT 4.0.
After he left the Army, Blake worked for a number of IT companies, including a software company where he took on the role of IT Director. The company ended up going out of business as many did in 2000. They started with 150 employees and eventually ended up with only five. As their IT Director, they asked Blake stay on part-time.
This allowed Blake the time to go out on his own as an independent IT tech. That’s when he started Colorado Computer Support.
When Blake started CCS, they only had only two employees – himself and his wife.
He was excited because he figured that he would make $75 an hour, which would equate to $150,000 a year.
But, reality set in quickly when Blake realized that his actual paid time would only be four hours a day due to the administrative duties that running a business required. So, Blake hired a bookkeeper and a few more techs. With a lot of hard work, they were able to make it through the painful startup phase.
At this time, CCS was only providing break/fix IT services. Blake realized that managed services was the future of IT, so CCS began providing proactive IT management. They were headed in the right direction, but still needed help to grow.
A few years later, Blake met Stuart Crawford from Ulistic. With Stuart’s MSP Coaching Services, Blake soon grew his small business into something much greater. As Blake says:
“This was when everything started to gel for us. Stuart provided the advice we needed to get our marketing, accounting, and business operations up to speed. This is when CCS really started to grow. And, today we have 35 employees thanks to the advice and marketing support we received from Ulistic.”
Even though Colorado Computer Support was recognized by MSP Mentor, Inc. 5000 and other IT groups, Blake knew that they couldn’t rest on their laurels. He knew with Ulistic’s help that CCS could continue to grow and excel in the IT service and support industry:
“Our goal is to keep growing and help our clients do the same. The Inc. 5000 Award is a reflection of this. It’s good for our employees to see that we’re succeeding in a market where many others have failed. Growth is stressful, but it lets our employees know that they will always have job security. If you don’t grow in this business, you’ll not only get stagnate, but end up losing clients. Businesses merge and get acquired. When this happens your client base can shrink, so you must pursue opportunities for growth.”
CCS used to let their clients determine what vendors they used. However, they ended up working with 15 different vendors at a time, which wasn’t sustainable because they simply couldn’t be experts in all of these solutions. So, Blake decided to narrow this down to the best three vendors he knew. As a result, his clients got the expertise they needed to grow their businesses and they developed a solid trust in Blake and CCS:
“Our clients appreciate the expertise we provide. They don’t care who the vendor is as long as the solution works for them and we provide the expert support they require. Most of our clients are in healthcare, veterinary care, and education. We no longer ask for their permission to set up a reliable Datto backup solution. It’s part of our service and they trust us to do it right without question. If a company doesn’t want a backup solution from us, then we know they don’t value their data, and we don’t want to be liable if they lose it. So, if they don’t take our recommendations in this respect, we let these clients go. This is part of maturing as an experienced, professional IT company.”
“Other than working with Stuart and Ulistic, our biggest accomplishment was getting past thinking of ourselves as a small IT Managed Service Provider, standardizing our processes, and learning how to run the business. We were good at fixing computers and servicing networks, but we needed advice on our long-term business planning and marketing our services. Stuart truly helped us in this respect. We would recommend other MSPs do the same and contact Stuart for MSP Coaching.”
“Offload the responsibilities that aren’t your strengths. If you need help with accounting, hire a bookkeeper – Hire a professional sales person to do your outreach for new clients. And, outsource your marketing to a business like Ulistic that specializes in serving MSPs. Focus on what you do best to grow your business and let others take on the things that slow you down. This is critical if you want to grow. And, I’ll say it again, contact Ulistic!”
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL and Fort Erie, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.