As a 22 year old entrepreneur, Spencer Ferguson had no idea that the part-time endeavor he began would one day lead to him becoming the Chief Executive Officer and President of the number one I.T. service provider in Utah. Fourteen years later, Wasatch I.T., based in Murray, Utah, is a multi-million dollar company that’s received numerous awards, including the Utah 100 award and being listed on Inc. magazine’s annual “Inc 5000” list for four consecutive years in a row (2009-2012). Born and raised in Utah, Spencer held a variety of jobs prior to his venture into entrepreneurship, and this self-made man has earned several industry sales and technical certifications from Symantec, Microsoft and more. Additionally, Spencer has been named a top young executive in Utah Business magazine’s “40 Under Forty” list. He serves on TechSelect’s Advisory Council and Microsoft’s Partner Research Panel, as well as serving on the board of directors for three non-profit organizations.
Manage by Numbers
When starting your business, it can be easy to make business decisions by your emotions or even the loyalty you feel towards family or friends. But growth in business depends on you managing by the data that governs growth: the numbers associated with the business. You don’t have to be a financial expert to do this, but understanding the financial aspects of your company is essential to guiding it to success.
“Learn to manage by the numbers,” Spencer advises.”Know your costs, know your metrics and know your margins.” Then make decisions based on them to ensure you’re keeping your company on track for success.
A supportive company culture is important to the success of both your employees’ and your business’ progress, so cultivating one is key. “The culture is typically representative of the CEO or the owner,” Spencer says. So start your business off right by setting the tone: make sure you hire not just qualified people, but people who share your values and the values of a high-performing team. “Never discount the importance of the culture,” Spencer notes. “Make sure your people fit your culture and continually work on building your culture as a brand within your organization.” With a strong, productive culture, you’ll have a strong, productive company.
Learn to Step Back
When you start a company, you wear many hats and fill every role to get it up and running. When Spencer began Wasatch I.T., he “was the janitor, the accountant, the marketing person–everything,” he says. But as a company grows, it’s important to hire qualified people and learn to trust them to do their part. Wasatch I.T. has 30 employees now, and Spencer has brought on people with expertise he doesn’t have to handle different aspects of the growing business. Trusting them to do their part is the key to being a good leader.
“Get out of the weeds and know you don’t have to have your finger in every part of the business,” Spencer says. “Build the people who work for you to deliver rather than diving into every situation and handling it yourself.” This not only helps empower your employees, it helps them be invested in the company’s success. And it frees your time to supervise and keep your eye on the goals to keep your company growing.
Shift and Pivot
Being flexible as a business leader is the way to lead your company through ever-changing market conditions. Unexpected obstacles and changes happen, and positioning your company to go with them is the best way to keep it successful. Spencer has had to shift and expand the focus of Wasatch I.T. over the years, and it’s meant the difference between closing up shop and growing. “There’s always going to be something that happens to make you shift your business – keep moving to keep growing,” advises Spencer.