Welcome to the Rialto Marketing podcast. Today's episode is a revenue acceleration series interview where we talk to seven figure B2B professional service firm owners that are actively trying to grow their business and get to the next level. We talk about the good, the bad and the ugly so that you can learn from their experience.


Join Tim Fitzpatrick and Michael Spinosa for this week’s episode of The Rialto Marketing Podcast!

Watch This Episode


Listen To The Podcast

Subscribe To The Podcast

Apple Podcasts
Spotify
Google Podcast
Stitcher
iHeart Radio

Read The Transcript Here


Podcast Transcription

Three Critical Areas To Speed Up Growth

Tim Fitzpatrick
Welcome to the Rialto Marketing podcast. Today's episode is a revenue acceleration series interview where we talk to seven figure B2B professional service firm owners that are actively trying to grow their business and get to the next level. We talk about the good, the bad and the ugly so that you can learn from their experience. Hi, I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe you must remove your revenue roadblocks to accelerate growth and marketing shouldn't be difficult. Thank you so much for taking the time to tune in. Really excited to have Michael Spinosa with me from Shield 7 Consulting. Michael, welcome and thanks for being here.

Michael Spinosa
Thanks for having me, Tim.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I'm excited to dig into this. We're going to talk a little bit about your past company, your current company. I think lots will be learned from the experience that you have. Before we do that, I want to ask you a few rapid fire questions. Are you ready to rock?

Michael Spinosa
I'm ready to rock. Let's do it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Very quickly, what do you do and how long have you been doing it?

Michael Spinosa
I am the chief executive officer of Shield 7 Consulting, which is an engineering first cyber security firm, and I've been doing it for just over a year. February was my one year anniversary.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Cool. And how long has Shield 7 been in business?

Michael Spinosa
Ten years.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Ten years. What's the most important lesson you've learned in running a business? It could be Shield 7, it could be Unleashed.

Michael Spinosa
Most important lesson that I've learned, that's a tough one, but for a small business, it's to take necessary risks.

Tim Fitzpatrick
No reward without risk, right?

Michael Spinosa
That's absolutely correct.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Now, I know growing a business can get hard sometimes. Do you have any mantra or something that you... Motivational that you say or share with your team to help you guys push through those times when it's tough?

Michael Spinosa
Well, so it's interesting. I have probably two, but the one that's most near and dear to my heart is the price of anything is the life that you're willing to exchange for it. And I think that that's true in all aspects of anybody's life. We often look to professional sports players or people that have accomplished great things. But one thing you're always clear about is that they gave everything for that, whatever that thing was.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. And oftentimes we don't see that.

Michael Spinosa
Right.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So the price of anything is the life you're willing to exchange for it. That's a great one.

The Three Things That Cripple Every Small Business from Growth

Tim Fitzpatrick

So when we initially connected, we talked a little bit about your previous company, Unleashed, which you grew to about eight million in top line revenue over 11 years. This time around with Shield 7, you said, Man, I think that I can do this in much less time. What will help speed things up for you this time around?

Michael Spinosa
Absolutely. So there's three main things that cripple every small business from growth. And if you join any, we call it Vistage, CEO Roundtable, anywhere, anywhere, there's always the three same problems that come up for every small business owner. And those are capital, resources, people, and contact sales. And it's almost universal. It's almost universal. And it becomes almost like a circular discussion. So when we look at those three problems, we have to realize that money comes from somewhere. We either raise it or we leverage it. And one of the biggest lessons that I learned was, what was done with Unleashed over... I'm going to call it a total span of It was 11, 12 ish, before. So 15. And what I learned in that process was I could have done that in seven, but I was unwilling to take certain risks that affected a myriad of different things. I was unwilling to take certain risks, and almost all of those had to do with me mortgaging something for the future. Here's what I mean by that. When we break this down, it's simple, is that you either raise money, take a loan, or you mortgage your profit. There's no secret sauce to this. There's only three ways to use capital. And so early on in the first years, I was always worried about having enough money to continue to grow, to protect my people. And that is a concern that is worth having, but not to a detriment. We have to be realistic about where we are if we're trying to grow a small business. So I spent the first five years hoarding all my money like a chipmunk, making sure that everybody was covered for a year or two. But I wasn't servicing my staff or my clients or our opportunities by doing that. So instead of raising money or taking a loan out from the bank, I started leveraging that capital that I had built up. And then I started using the profit to put back into the business. Now, what people don't talk about is that was a detriment to me, but it actually, for the short term, but the long term became a much different view. It became a much different view. The other thing that I really learned in that process that took me two or three years to figure out was hard truth really hurts. I remember it was two or three years ago. At this time, I was a smoker and I was pacing outside of front of my office smoking, and I was having a heart to heart with my partner, Scott Greenwell, who was a major contributor in the business. I took a real honest review of where we're at. I said, We're not really good at anything. If I had to rate our firm today, I would rate it a five or a six out of 10. We'll take whatever comes to us. We'll do anything to capture work, and that's not what's going to make us great. Not for a small business. That's not what's going to take us there. And that was a pivotal moment because we decided to invest in a platform that the world knows a hundred times over. But before then they did not, which was called Drupal. We invested in Drupal and we said, this is our direction. We're going to be open source experts because it dominates the web area, and we're going to redefine how working with a professional services firm is done. Now it's more commonplace, but at the time, the model change was revolutionary, and that is what really fostered a lot of growth.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So at that point, you decided to focus and double down on Drupal and be experts at Drupal.

Michael Spinosa
We had to get good at something. So many small businesses are plagued. And I speak to the services firms out there. I want to be very clear about my professional background and my experience is I am a consulting services guy. And so with that background, that's very different than, let's say, a product. If you're building a technology product, there's different ways to manage those businesses. They're operated completely differently. And so in my world, I had to become really proficient and expert at something to set myself apart. And in the services world, but we see with small businesses that are often hamstrung, let's say very small, let's say micro small in the 1 to 2 million dollars range. They will capture any piece of revenue, even if it doesn't fit exactly what they do, which spreads them very thin and makes them experts of none. So they build no reputation for being great at something that the people need or want. And they view it differently at the time because they see the short term game, not the long term. And that was a huge difference maker for us.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So once you made that choice, business started to grow.

Michael Spinosa
Absolutely. In the, I'm not great at the years, Tim. So I can't tell you exactly what year, but early on. So I'm going to say 2009 to 2010. In that time frame, we had come in the January after we had made the shift. And I think Unleashed at that time had a couple of hundred bucks in its account. I mean, we were right there. And then everything exploded because we took a big chance. We took a shot on Drupal, and we landed the organization's largest contract ever through all the efforts we had done through the small Drupal projects that we were doing. And that propelled us to do amazing things on that platform and to expand into web application development on the open source stack still. And that was our thing is Drupal was a tool in our toolbox, but we were an open source web application firm at the end of the day because the Drupal sites that you build are typically very complex. They're not like other sites that would, let's say, be on WordPress or a simpler platform. These were very complex websites, so they were really web applications at the end of the day.

Tim Fitzpatrick
But at the time you made that decision, you were already doing Drupal. You just decided, Hey, we've been doing this. This is the path that makes the most sense for us, and we're going to stop doing all this other stuff.

Michael Spinosa
No.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay.

Michael Spinosa
So here's how it happened. We were doing. We were doing WordPress, we were doing Joomla, we were doing anything that anybody had. And we were trying to leverage the staff and we were like, Oh, we'll figure it out. We'll figure it out. And there is a time in a company's innovation where that step was necessary for us to learn, to touch everything, to be part of everything. And we really hadn't done any Drupal at that point. When we had the revelation that there was really nothing special about us and that this could be found anywhere, we realized we had a serious problem on our hands as a team. And when I say team, I don't just mean me and Scott. I mean, the real the founders, the bedrock of Unleashed Technologies, that included Colin O'Dell and Ben Thomas and Matt Kurtin and lots of people that were with us very, very early on. I sat down and they said, We need to figure out something that's going to be a difference maker. And the team brought together Drupal, and they said, This is the future. And I said, I don't like it very much, but I understand I didn't. I did not like Drupal. I thought it broke the confines of how content management platforms or systems worked at that time. It totally shattered what we would call the norm. It used tagging structures. It used concepts for nodes, different things on the way. The whole thing was architected, was completely different. They said, if this is where the future is, we're going to invest all of our time, all of our effort into this. And every website we do moving forward is going to be Drupal.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It's going to be Drupal.

Michael Spinosa
It's going to be Drupal. And we made that conscious decision.

Tim Fitzpatrick
And when you made that shift, did you update your marketing message, your website? Do you remember?

Michael Spinosa
Yes, absolutely. We updated our marketing message, everything. And one of the things that we did that may be even more palpable, because technology alone doesn't make a firm grow. You can have a group of experts in the hottest technology possible, but that company doesn't grow. One of the big things that we did was we created a model called the growth package. Now, the growth package is known by a lot of different things today. But at the time, if you asked... Let me back up for a second. If you put a pin in the map and you draw a circle with a five mile radius, you're going to find 20, 40, 50 people that say their web agencies in that space. And one thing was clear about all of them. They all did around a million dollars. No one really broke through that glass ceiling. And this is a different time now. So those numbers may have changed. But almost 17 years ago at this point, that was the glass ceiling. And I would talk to all of them. I was friends with all of them, and we weren't even there. We were making close to nothing. I was taking no salary, all of those kinds of things. And they all said the same thing. They said, You either do things for a fixed price for time and materials. I said, That doesn't really make a lot of sense because all I see is unhappy customers. And that was the experience that I was having with my customers. I give them this firm, fixed price quote, they'd want to change, and everybody'd be mad because there's more money being demanded on the table. And I was like, This is really frustrating for people. There's got to be a better way. So we came up with this concept of the growth package, which, again, now is practice, but at the time was revolutionary, was you would have a set amount of hours with us every month. And for that, a team would be assigned to you that would include designers, developers, project managers, whatever resources you needed. So as your needs and demands changed, the team could constantly be handling that for a predictable annual budget that you could work within. And then it also set the premise that the website was a living entity that was always growing and changing. It wasn't a thing that you did and it was done. And we went all in on that. And there was so much client education that had to happen at that time. And I remember bringing this to my peers and I said, this is what I'm thinking of doing. And so many people are like, never work. People will never be interested in this. There's no way that anybody would ever get into this type of situation. And I found when tons of people think really negatively about an idea, like digital currency, it's probably a good idea to check it out. So we ran with it and we did. We updated all of our marketing because we had to educate. So we made so much material. We had charts of this is how much it costs you to have full time employees to do this. This is what a growth package gives you. You have access to all these resources for a quarter of the cost. And we really had a solid something there. And I do think that marketing that in conjunction with being an expert in a particular platform at that time changed our stars.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I can't remember where I heard this, but it's always stuck with me from a marketing and a sales standpoint. And it's specificity sells. You guys got super specific about what you were doing. You specialized, and that resonates with people. If you got a Drupal site, do you want somebody that's an expert in Drupal or somebody that dabbles in it? No, you want an expert. I always love to hear these types of stories because it just confirms this is not a new concept. People say specialize all the time, niche down, focus. But so many of us have a hard time actually making the choice to do that. I guess we just need to keep hearing more stories about people like you.

Michael Spinosa
I want to be fair to the entire world. I don't know how people would view this, but I consider it a success. One of the things that I would say to people is not all stories will end successfully. That's a hard message to hear. But if you don't take that shot, like I said, what are the things that I learned? You've got to take risks. You've got to take game changing risk to actually break through. Because if you don't, you're just going to... If I have 10 landscapers over to my house, what am I shopping on?

Tim Fitzpatrick
The first thing I would say is you're probably shopping on price.

Michael Spinosa
That's a bad place to be.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah.

Michael Spinosa
That's exactly right. If you look at a commodity, this is the easiest way. Plumbers, electrician, landscapers, payroll services, any of these kinds of things, a lot of times those decisions are driven by price. Unless you can show an extreme value. Unleashed was never driven by price because we were looking for extreme value. We're the best at this. We have the most unique model for delivery. We're worth the extra money. An interesting fact, up until I sold Unleashed technology, we were almost an entirely US based team, which is actually unheard of in the end of the meeting. We had a couple of people around the world, but they were because they were the best at what they did. Not because I was outsourcing to get my rates down, which so many people do. We didn't sacrifice on price and rate. We didn't make those sacrifices because we felt that we had something special that people needed.

Tim Fitzpatrick
When you didn't have to because you had created differentiation.

Michael Spinosa
Absolutely.

Tim Fitzpatrick
People weren't comparing apples to apples. It was an apples to oranges comparison. They're like, We want the orange. And that's what happens. When you create differentiation, you no longer compete on price. The price conversation is over.

Michael Spinosa
Absolutely.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Thank you for sharing that and breaking it down because there was a ton of value in that.

GET VISIBILITY TO YOUR REVENUE ROADBLOCKS

Get YOUR Revenue Roadblock Scorecard Today!

The Revenue Roadblock Scorecard is designed for professional service firms with revenue between $1-20M per year.

It helps you discover and assess which of the nine revenue roadblocks are slowing down your business growth.

Answer ten questions about your business and start removing your revenue roadblocks today! You'll have your results in less than 5-minutes.

Focusing on Strategy, Marketing, and Sales

Tim Fitzpatrick
How are you taking those learning lessons and applying them with Shield 7?

Michael Spinosa
Well, I know it's working because I came in in February of 2022, and I'm in an active company, so I have to be more careful with the revenue goals. But we are already on track to double this year. And as opposed to it taking five years to figure out a recipe, we know the recipe right away. And I would say that the biggest things that have to be changed is funny. My specialties as a CEO are three things strategy, sales, and marketing. And of those three things, I think the most valuable... You can't weight them equally. They're weighted differently for different times. And what I would say is the first thing is the strategy always has to be sound. That's one. Two is marketing and three is sales. And people would say, Why would you put sales in third position? Because if you do a good job with marketing, you have so much less to do in sales. There's so much less work to do. One of the hardest parts that a small business faces is they're constantly being challenged if they're viable. Well, marketing is a great way to solve that problem by establishing thought leadership, by establishing really strong marketing materials. I can't tell you, even today, as I come back to a smaller organization and we're looking and we're going to continue doubling in size. But as I look at people that are now my new peers that are in the same spot, they'll create things. Let me give you a great example. They'll create marketing, they'll work on the wording, but they won't bring in somebody external to check out. And I do this all the time to say, I've sourced it with my peers. I'm like, does this resonate with you? The feedback you get is amazing. They're like, no, what are you talking about?

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's not it.

Michael Spinosa
That's not it. And then they design it themselves, but they're not designers. We have to meet a certain professional standard for people to take a small business seriously. And if we don't meet those standards, we get crippled. And that comes back to the capital. They don't want to spend money on that stuff because they can't actualize an immediate ROI. And I said, the ROI that comes from... And I'm talking specifically to marketing right now. The ROI that comes from marketing, I always say trails six months. So you don't know if something's working or not working till six months from the moment it's released into the wild. Because you would need time for that message to saturate and you have to have a strong promotional plan for that to get in front of people and for people to start absorbing that message. And it's tough for people to realize that. A lot of people that start companies are very brave, but they're also very analytical. And sometimes that can be the Achilles heel for a small business owner in that they look at something and they go, Okay. And I would say this is true of sales and marketing. If I spend X, how much am I going to get in return for that? And the answer is, especially when you're small, is you don't even have a baseline. You don't know the answer to that. So you're never going to invest in anything because no consultant, no vendor, no event, no opportunity, nothing has a guarantee on it, and it never will. The only way you can learn what works is by taking those chances, by spending that money and figuring out, is my messaging right? Is how I'm selling this to people working correctly? I found that if you're very risk averse, but you still need to make a big splash, investing in conferences and shows, especially with speaking engagements, is a wonderful way to get your small business moving. And then the truth to that is that costs money, $2,000 to exhibit, a couple of thousand bucks for the and the booth. But the booth is reusable. Then if you want a speaking engagement, some conferences, that comes at a cost. And other ones, you can compete for it by submitting a really great talk and telling. But a lot of times for small businesses that don't have a previous namesake, there's going to be a cost associated with that.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Michael, you just dropped so much value right there. I want to pull some things out that I think are easy for people to overlook. One of the things you touched on there was marketing and sales. If marketing is doing its job, it is feeding warm leads to sales. The sales process becomes much easier when marketing is working correctly and as it should. That's one thing that I think tremendous value. The other thing you touched on, too, was just about getting outside eyes. As business owners, it's very hard for us to think objectively about our business. We're too close to the fire. We got to ask, Hey, this is what we're thinking about. We need to get outside eyes from people you know, from current clients. We need to get that feedback to make sure that we're not missing something. Super important. The other thing you touched on was ROI with marketing, and it trails six months. Man, marketing is an investment. It takes time and it takes a lot of work. And we have to view things from a long term perspective, not short term. If we're short term, we're going to make all kinds of decisions with marketing that are going to derail us because so many people give up on marketing long before they've actually given it the chance to actually work. Gosh, a lot of times they haven't even identified, like, what metrics are we going to track? What are we going to track that's going to help us identify whether we're actually getting traction and whether this is working or not?

Michael Spinosa
I couldn't agree with you more. I can always... There's so many examples that I can use, and I want to use one or two here that are really important. The first thing I would say about a business owner that's very proud and excited about what they're doing, that's full of that energy. When Unleashed was started, I was in my 20s. So Mike at 44 has a different energy level than Mike at 28. I like to think my energy level is still very high, but it's definitely different. But I remember looking back on something that's very important. When people would ask my wife what I would do is she'd be like, Oh, he builds websites. I'd be like, No, it's more complicated than that. I would be like, You can't just say it like that because then I sound small time and I would have that opinion. But the truth is, she had simplicity of messaging. I was drawing the conclusion that that wasn't complex enough for them to be impressed by what we did. And there's more than another couple of times where I got calls from... My wife was talking to somebody whose spouse ran a company and was a marketing director. He'd be like, Yeah, your wife said you would build websites. I'd be like, Oh, my God. Why do I feel like I have to lay out this big, fancy message that is overdone? Now, did I make it more complex than that? Yes, I'm not going to lie. But I learned from that later on in Unleashed, not early on. Early on, I was like, We are an enterprise web application firm that uses best. It was this long tiring grade. Explaining things to people. And what I learned was I was eliminating candidates and prospects by not having the right marketing message. I think another thing that I've really learned in marketing is that... Or I would say sales are directly impacted by marketing, but short term sales decisions are more dangerous than any other type of decision. So going away from marketing, short term sales decisions, I have made some serious mistakes in my time on taking on certain clients or certain opportunities because there was a short... It wasn't a short term gain. You typically business owners will make these kinds of decisions at times of distress. And there's definitely a couple I wish I could get back. And I've really taken those lessons forward to Shield 7. And at Shield 7, we're a slam dunk over here. This is one of the most talented crews of people that I have ever seen in my life. And the product's rock solid. I have no concern over what the quality of our product is. Remember, when we started Drupal, we were building into it. We were learning as we were going. We didn't start with some here. I've got a team of absolute experts working on some of the largest security environments in the world. I have those components. So it's a blessing to me on my second run that I'm coming in with this component completed. These capabilities built in. But I would tell you, short term sales decisions are the most deadliest to a small business when you're not looking at the... I can't tell you how many other peers have talked about that. We were down on revenue. I really thought this guy was going to be a problem for us in the consulting world, but we really needed the cash. So I took on the client and that client ended up costing them twice as much as they got paid when it was all said and done. It hurt their staff. It could have caused attrition, people to quit. We've taken clients that have been so tough that... And I'm talking the Unleash side, that I lost good people over that. I only had to learn that lesson once. You only have to learn that lesson once. But those are real journeys. Those are real things that happen.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I think a lot of us have made decisions like that. Frankly, it's easy to fall into that. And the thing that really sucks is go to it. Most of us can see it. We already know, but we feel like we have to do it. And sure enough, you get near the end and you're like, I knew it. I should have listened to my gut, but I didn't.

Michael Spinosa
It's talking to you. Absolutely. The whole time.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Well, that's another thing, too, where specializing, really honing in on who your ideal clients are helps you avoid making those mistakes. Because when you really know who you work with, you have a measuring stick. So that when you have a conversation with somebody, you're like, Are they checking these boxes or are they not?

Michael Spinosa
Right.

Tim Fitzpatrick
If they're not, it's going to be a no. And hey, it doesn't mean you can't help them. You can send them somewhere else because you're just not a good fit.

Michael Spinosa
Absolutely. I always live by riches and niches. And so when you're building a small business, riches and niches are very valuable. When we start scaling into 30 million, 50 million large, when you see people breaking out of those specializations... And again, I'm in the service world. I'm not in the product world. A product world can stay in its niche and make hundreds of millions of dollars depending on what it's doing. But in the service world, when you start breaking and you want to continue expansion, you now have enough capital to seed entire teams to go build a new line of revenue as opposed to saying, Bob, go check this out, see if we get lucky. That's a different way of doing things. My goal for Shield 7 is in the next three years to get to somewhere around $15 or $20 million. And in that zone, I think that we can have a real positive impact on the Mid Atlantic community. I think we can have a tremendous impact and that we can do a lot of good. We can do a lot of good for people. We can protect their assets while still giving them the same workflow that they've always wanted.

Conclusion: Three Critical Areas To Speed Up Growth

Tim Fitzpatrick
What do you think are the top three growth challenges that you're facing with Shield 7 at this point?

Michael Spinosa
It's always the same. Nobody wants to hear it. Capital, resources, contacts.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I thought you were going to say that.

Michael Spinosa
It's always the three small business in the service industry, it's always... I f you put 10 people in a room and you asked me to write down what each of their problems is, and they don't get to speak, and I'm just gaging them by perception, just by looking at them, I'm going to toggle between those three. The vast majority of people are resources. I'll tell you why resources. Resources are attached to capital. And people say, No, it's not. I n a services firm, yes, it is. Because if your resources are fully billable in a professional services model and it's time to expand, by the time that client is ready to sign the contract, you don't have that resource on deck. And if you looked at modern hiring, somebody just doesn't pop up in a day and jump on the team. It's a 60, 90 day cycle to find the right person, minimum, to join your team. So you have the onboard talent well ahead of demand, but they're scared to spend that capital, Tim. Problem, one of the three pillars, they're scared to spend the capital, so they don't have the resources, so who suffers? If they don't have the resources and they're taking on the clients, the client suffer because they don't have enough resources. So then that wraps back to contacts. If all of your clients aren't highly referring clients, now you're low on contacts. And when I say contacts, I mean sales contacts to be specific, people that are helping drive revenue for you because they're either direct clients or their partners. They're helping drive your service. So you can fix that by spending the capital to front load the resources to create a great experience that will generate more contacts. But we don't do that. And as simple as I'm making it sound, it really is. It depends. You have to have a service that's in demand. If you have a service that's not in demand, well, that's a different problem. And you have to set your business model and what you're selling. But for us, I don't know if you knew this, but cyber is pretty in demand.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, just a little bit.

Michael Spinosa
Right. So we have demand, right? So we have to meet that demand. And that's what we aim to do and what we've done.

Tim Fitzpatrick
We talked a bit about marketing. I want to circle back on this. When it comes to marketing, what are your biggest challenges?

Michael Spinosa
Right now, when we have a small team, it is very difficult for us or any small business to generate the amount of marketing material that's needed and maintain it, especially if you're multi service. So cyber security is a very interesting industry because it threads across a lot of different things, and each one of those can be considered its own specialization. So you need to have information about each of those things that are relevant to the clients that you're trying to attract. Well, this repository of information gets very large, very quick, and someone's got to write it all. Now, I know what everybody's going to say. You can use ChatGPT. But you still have to make it your own and you have to put what's special about you inside that. Marketing is not just... They can go Google. They can go ChatGPT that for themselves. They can go Google that for themselves. What is unique about your process, what you're doing, that's going to differentiate you from other people? I'll tell you a hard truth. There's a lot of people that can't answer that question in a professional services firm. They still don't know. I'll be honest, I'm working on it with Shield 7. We've got some good differentiators that are coming through right now. And one of the hard parts about differentiators is you can have a genuine differentiator. Let me give you a genuine differentiator. We have the best people. If 10 firms say that, two are telling the truth. And the only people that get screwed in that are the two people telling the truth because they're me too words. When is the last time you were sold anything by somebody that said, Well, we don't have the best people. We're not the best, but we try really hard. It's like yeah. So while that could be a differentiator for those two firms, it's not to the perceived rest of the world. And that's life's unfair, right? We have to find something else that sets us apart. That's a big differentiator for us is that we have the talent, but I can't just say that. So how do we differentiate? Well, we manage some of the largest environments available and we can speak directly to that. So when we say, yes, but we're managing environments with over 2,000 network perimeter security devices, people go, oh. And then they go back to check with the other people and they say, what's the largest environment you manage? I don't know, like 10 firewalls? This is night and day. That's a differentiator. So when I'm talking to enterprises, because I'm after the midmarket in the enterprise market, I have a strong differentiator because I'm not just leveraging because I said so, I'm leveraging experience that is uncommon. There are firms that do that, but now the pool is this big as opposed to this big. I've cut the pool market down substantially. And that's a great difference for us.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Thank you for sharing that because I think that's a really good example. The way I've always looked at differentiators is it's okay if there's some crossover. Because, look, anybody can say this stuff. Like you said, hey, we've got the best people. As long as nobody can check all of your differentiators off, you have created differentiation there. Some of your competitors have said, we got the best people. You say that, but you have another differentiator which you just touched on. Nobody else can check that. Now you have multiple differentiators and nobody can say that they have every single one of those differentiators. That's created that differentiation, even if there is some crossover. So I don't know. That's the way that I've always thought about it. You got to have multiple differentiators. Usually one is not enough.

Michael Spinosa
I absolutely agree. And I'm not being rude. I've got to tell someone not to knock on my door.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, that's alright. Michael, this has been a fantastic conversation. You've shared a ton of great stuff. I want to ask you one last question before we wrap things up, and that's knowing what you know now, is there anything you would do differently?

Michael Spinosa
Are you serious? Absolutely.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. What are some of the first things that...

Michael Spinosa
I don't have regrets, but I would do things differently. Yes, absolutely.

Tim Fitzpatrick
What are the things that come to mind that you would do different?

Michael Spinosa
I would specialize quicker. I would invest my profits in the growth sooner and understand what later looks like as opposed to the near term. I would focus all of my energy into only the most critical processes that made sure that my product was delivered correctly and sink all of my remaining resources into opportunity. Because the death of a small business... Why does any business fail when expenses exceed revenue? It's not more, or maybe a better way to say this, expenses exceed income. And for the plight of a small business is building revenue. And I think every small business owner, when they're small, this is a great trap for product company. A product company will continue to work on this product and make it better and better and better. But nobody's getting it out there. Nobody's selling it. Nobody's building the marketing material. They're like, Oh, we just added a new feature. People are going to love that. But nobody's there. No one's at the game. No one's buying Pop corn. No one's watching. You have to get people to the game to see all the great things that you're doing. And that's true. It's true for services firms. So I would channel sales and marketing the hardest. I would commit to the processes that only provide value to my clients from a production perspective. Meaning as long as they're getting a better experience, everything in our industry is about client satisfaction. There is nothing else.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it.

Michael Spinosa
That's where I would change it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Where can people go to learn more about you? Shield 7?

Michael Spinosa
Oh, Shield 7? Go to Shield7.Com. You'll learn about our four major pillars there. We're a best in breed engineering firm. We put engineering first and we're backed by world class products. I would love for people to check us out. If you get a chance, hit me up.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Please do so. Michael shared a lot of really great stuff today. I was taking notes. I hope you were as well. Shield7.com. Michael, thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate it. For those of you that are watching, listening, and I appreciate you as well, we've been talking a lot about growth and how to accelerate it. If you want to identify which of the nine revenue roadblocks are slowing down your growth, head on over to revenueroadblockscorecard.com. You can also connect with us over at RialtoMarketing.com. Thanks so much. Until next time, take care.


Connect With Michael Spinosa


Links From The Episode


About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

Do you want to accelerate revenue growth but need someone to lead or guide your marketing efforts to drive results?

There are so many different marketing channels and tactics today. Where should you invest your marketing dollars for the best return? How can you reach your revenue goals faster?

We understand how stressful and frustrating marketing your business can be. Marketing shouldn't be difficult.

We provide marketing consulting and outsourced or fractional CMO services to help B2B professional service firms that need a marketing leader to accelerate growth without the full-time cost.

Are you ready to become confident with your marketing? Let us help you remove your revenue roadblocks so you can amplify your marketing results.