Port-to-Port Consulting is about to celebrate its 17th year in business. We started out with a 40 page business plan that described the pure consulting company that we intended to be for K-12 school districts and other Not-For-Profit organizations. Our goal was to help the people who were relying on the salespeople to tell them what they really needed.
It didn’t take long before we weren’t doing anything close to what our business plan said we’d do. We went from consulting to writing software to installing networks to doing everything that an IT department would do in a larger company. We offered an ever growing menu of products and services. When the Internet bubble burst and all the companies that overspent to mitigate the big Y2K problem couldn’t spend anything on IT, we almost went out of business. While we waited to select a good bankruptcy attorney, we did some introspection and determined that we were really good with companies that let us run their entire IT operation and we sucked at the ala carte stuff. So we abandoned everything in favor of this all-in-one deal that we named Pertingo.
I’ve spent the last few days at a conference in Los Angeles (Beverly Hills actually) where a lot of industry wonks are telling all of us that “managed services” is the Nirvana for our industry. In the middle of all of this, I meet a guy from Detroit who earns his living selling truckfuls of computer equipment to state and federal government entities. He isn’t the least bit interested in selling managed services. I meet another guy who completely outsources all of the work. All he does is sell it. Neither of these guys is buying into the idea that they have to switch to managed services or die. Both of them make significant multiples more revenue than we do.
Be careful when experts tell you how you ought to go about making money. If they’re so smart, why are they still working?