The Lucky Titan

Don't build a business tomorrow, build it yesterday With Stewart Townsend

July 16, 2021 Josh Tapp
The Lucky Titan
Don't build a business tomorrow, build it yesterday With Stewart Townsend
Chapters
The Lucky Titan
Don't build a business tomorrow, build it yesterday With Stewart Townsend
Jul 16, 2021
Josh Tapp

I have spent 20 years working in channel roles and have specialised in accelerating revenue at global SaaS companies through the building and running of indirect sales programs. My sole focus is working with SaaS companies who are at that point where they are looking at indirect sales channels, have enquiries from potential partners and are uncertain where to start, this is where I work with them as a consultant to see if their product can be sold through a channel, what that channel to market is and then takes them there.

I have had clients across the US and UK in which I have acted as an interim CRO, VP Channel, or just as an advisor to the founders

www.channelasservice.com my consultancy business

Show Notes Transcript

I have spent 20 years working in channel roles and have specialised in accelerating revenue at global SaaS companies through the building and running of indirect sales programs. My sole focus is working with SaaS companies who are at that point where they are looking at indirect sales channels, have enquiries from potential partners and are uncertain where to start, this is where I work with them as a consultant to see if their product can be sold through a channel, what that channel to market is and then takes them there.

I have had clients across the US and UK in which I have acted as an interim CRO, VP Channel, or just as an advisor to the founders

www.channelasservice.com my consultancy business

Josh: What is up, everybody, Josh Tapp here again and welcome back to The Lucky Titan, today we're here with Stewart Townsend, and this guy is awesome, we just had a great conversation, he's helping me solve some sales problems for our company, which is always very, very helpful but Stewart is the founder of channel as a service and this guy has a lot of business experience and he's worked in the corporate world in the startup world, he's owning multiple companies, currently on multiple companies so he's those guys, when he talks you listen, so I'm excited to have you here, Stewart so we can dive into this so can you say what's up to our audience and then we'll hop right in.

Stewart: perfectly, thank you. Thanks, Josh Yeah, so Stewart from the UK. I'm a little bit older than suppose Josh, maybe maybe been around a little bit late, I've said a little bit of corporate work, done some start-ups, ran some businesses, had some failures, had some fall overs, had some successes, as well so it's great to meet you all today and have a chance to have a chat about what's been going on for the last 30 40 years.

Josh: Let's get you caught up on that the most recent 30 to 40 years. I love it. Well, Stewart, we talked about this in the pre interview but I really like to get down to how you're overcoming specific issues in your company, and then turning those into wins and you've done this with so many different companies, I want to look at what was kind of a campaign or some sort of business that you've had that just it failed miserably and then why did it fail, what was the specific driving factor?

Stewart: That's a good question there, Josh as well so we'll, we'll anchor it back to I suppose most recent history, in a sense and I think what it comes down to before sort of tell you what the business was, is about being more aware of what you're successful at, and what you're good at and what your skills are, and recognizing that and acting upon them, which I didn't do. So I made an investment in a block chain based business really, four years ago, at the hive, crypto is crypto is high now, but the high at the time, not very good at investing that's that's the lesson learned so I invest in a business without doing due diligence or checking on the technical sort of architecture, the marketplace is going to deliver and what it turned out to be it was it wasn't a complex technical solution, that was fine and we could sort of go against it but the actual market, we were looking to serve the legalities around it and and the market as a whole just died so for me, it was just a lesson learned of work on business that I can work on that I know about, and I can drive or work with businesses or no, don't go and invest in other people's businesses, because I'm really bad at that and it took a very painful investment to learn that, that exercise and it wasn't that the people were bad, or I felt that at all, it was just, I went ahead and made that investment without really sort of checking the clarity of what I was doing, I was I was caught up in a high, basically, of the hype of crypto and block chain and what was going to happen, that sort of thing and it took me forwards, whereas Actually, I should have put my business head on, which is what I advise my clients doing and it didn't, around so I think for me that was, but you know, the lessons around that were, yeah, it was a failure, I've come back from it, it's fine but actually don't, don't get caught up in the hype don't think you have to run with the rest of the crowd, and sort of go into something, but also really understand what your core internal sort of knowledge and skills are and what you're good at and I think took me a bit of time to do that really, in these sort of areas of mistakes and things I've done that I did another mistake is while we go into my lab, which was a furniture business, totally different, not technology, but I opened a furniture shop, why would you do that, I've been in IT for 30 years but again, it's understanding about what you're good at, I think, you know, for me, that was different sounds quite sort of ambiguous but you know, a defining moment in terms of like, right, okay, I know what I'm going to do now, I'm going to come out of this, I'm going to set up my consultancy business, and we're b2b SaaS companies, and build our programs and build revenue because I've done that for a billion years, I've know it inside out, why not just do the most obvious thing that they're doing, but now, so that's, that was sort of a major, a major sort of learning, learning lesson for me.

Josh: Yeah, that that's brilliant and it was so funny about that, I've recently understood this on a whole new level of like knowing your strengths, the reality is that most of your strengths aren't things that really aren't that fun, I mean, most of the times your best strength is actually mildly boring to you, you could do it you don't hate it, but It's something that you're not, you know, thinking about because crypto sounds so much sexier, right, I mean, we've actually made quite a bit of money in the crypto investing spa and I would say it's not because I'm a great investor, because we just timed it, right but when it comes down to it, you know, entering these new markets, because they're quote, unquote, sexy sometimes isn't the best route, because it's going like in your case, you said, if you just cut into another IT services business, you probably would have succeeded much, much quicker so it's so so fun to see that and see kind of that transformation that you have so I do want to ask you, how did that alternative to kind of now this successful company that you've built and what, what was kind of a big differentiating factor this time that helped you to win?

Stewart: Yeah, I suppose it was a need for money, because I put a significant chunk of my savings and again, you know, I've been divorced a couple of times, I'm on my own backup plan and it was it was just that sort of human survival nature of, right, okay, I'll beat myself up for a little bit. I've made a mistake. What can I do that I'm really good at and, and bizarrely enough, you know, as luck would have it in such people came to me that I've known over the years and said, Look, you know, we're trying to build out some general programs, it's not working, direct sales are doing it, they don't know what they're doing, can you help us? Yeah, okay. It's like, it's what I do, or is what I did, I didn't really want to do that, again, because I was in corporate and startups and search and then but then what I found from that is actually enjoy working for myself and now I will all be very transparent, I will never work for another company again, I'm unemployable, totally unemployable and I always thought I would work for a company for the rest of my life and retire and be sort of old and boring from that side, definitely, you know, I can't work for anybody else so for me, it is about coming out of him realizing, either went and worked for a company and really, really hated it or I did something myself, and define what that was so basically, I worked for a couple of clients, just putting the proposal together, deciding what rates to charge, and that sort of thing what were the deliverables and then it just clicked, you know, one client, another client, and then my network founder was doing so they asked me to do small projects or larger projects so up until last year, I was working with one of my clients for two and a half years, it was like a member of the team. I'd go to the Christmas parties, and everything so yeah, so I think, you know, coming out of adversity, in a sense, gave me more clarity about, I've made some errors, actually, what made me step back and decide what do I want to do and how can I do that and then once I started to build that up, it got to a point where it's like, I've got clients, I've got a portfolio business and then pre-COVID, I was working six days a week, too many clients are having to just step back a bit and COVID help with that because then I can put a strategy together COVID, I'm still doing that and then I've invested about, you know, sweat equity, rather than money, this time in other businesses so it really helped me be that not to then decide what you want to do and I did invest some some money in crypto and stuff but the other thing I've learned as well is I am not a risk taker, I'm not an investor, whether it's in businesses or financial, I made a little bit of money, and I could have made some more but I decided not to do that, because I'm not good at and so I've gone, I'm going to do the old fashioned way where I'm going to build a portfolio of businesses up and just make money that way because I know I can do that and I'll sleep at night, I'll feel more comfy.

Josh: Yeah, and that's not a problem. That's what's fun is like, there's so many different ways to become successful and, and taking where you're currently at, say, okay, I'm a risk taker so how do I find risk free investments, businesses and so forth, that seems to be what you've done is, you've become successful because you focused more on like you said, your strengths, find and knowing what your weaknesses are more than anything, that's just, that's fun for me to see so I want to ask you this to the Stewart, so when it comes to as far as like, a great campaign that you've run, or a business that you've run, what do you feel like was kind of the differentiating factor and why do you think that you know, that campaign was so successful?

Stewart: And all yeah, that's gotten us going deep, going deep, so I think, you know, 50 this year, no parties, no, nothing, can't see anybody can't do anything and it gives you time to reflect on your halfway well, a little bit halfway forward in your life and it's like, what what was successful and what do I want to do and I think for me, leaving those companies making some mistakes, going a little bit off east and then coming back, as men back and sort of look at actually, what is success, and Success to me is just being happy in what I do so channel is a service, it's not a chore, it's a passion, I can make a difference, I can generate revenue, I can see an increase in companies, I can test and sort of these different methodologies that can use sort of structured things, but it's just about really enjoying it, I know, it's a cliche, it's a horrible cliche, I'm not going to say it, but I do enjoy your work, because I work for myself or bring contractors in to do stuff and to me, that's a success, I've built a business that sustains itself, It can, it can grow if it wants to but I choose not to, I don't want to have what we were talking about earlier, I don't want to start hiring staff and going through that fun piece and they don't don't open a client's I'm happy, especially as a services business but then what I've done this last six months, last couple of quarters, these, find other businesses that I'm happy in and that I can bring value to, and really drive and enjoy so you know, this podcast for cookies, rep team, these, hello mobile is three businesses that I enjoyed the technologies I enjoy the mark, our reach on where we're going to and invested in them is like, yeah, I'll give you 100%. So so it's really finding that sort of cliche, and it's a cliche, but just being what you're happy in and what you enjoy, because it's just not it's not a challenge the only the only sort of negatives ideas, I'm a procrastinator, so I just get distracted by shiny things so looking at NF T's looking at definitely looking at sort of exciting buzzword stuff but then we're trying to anchor that and bring that back into the businesses that working on or the companies I'm working with so yeah, I think you know, summary is, it's just being happy in what you do, I realize now looking back, I was doing jobs I really enjoyed and my favorite job was at Sun Microsystems long time ago, and everything else was just I was going through the motions of trying to be a VP trying to get a title and that didn't bring success, they didn't bring success at all, it didn't sort of give clarity to where where I wanted to be was a big part of that makes sense.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and and what I love about everybody's journey in the entrepreneurial world is like, I think half of the battle as an entrepreneur is staying focused, and focusing 100% on one thing, because the shiny object syndrome is always happening, NFT's are a huge thing right now, at the time of this recording and it's so easy to get distracted on these things we've had multiple business opportunities come our way around NFT's and I've just decided to opt out completely, even though there might be billion dollar opportunities, because I know it's going to distract from what we're doing, or trying to accomplish and I can tell you, it isn't a quick decision, it's usually two days of me calling a bunch of people asking them questions, getting all excited about it and then I get to the end of it and say, okay, is this the right direction, for me, it's usually my partner who's like, okay, focus, we don't need to go 14 ways, just stick with the one thing so I think it's always beneficial to have that person. 

Stewart: And I think that's a totally valid point and I'm sure your audience will resonate with it in terms of those a standard path, have a plan and a strategy and focus on it and don't detract, you find they are the successful entrepreneurs and you get lucky with you know, some of the can spin multiple plates, and everyone exits really well, now, Elon Musk, but you know, sort of those type of names, but there's loads of other people that have built multiple, multiple companies to multiple revenues that you don't hear about and the reason they've done that is because they've been solely focused on execution and that's the key aspect, I think, again, you know, my key takeaway of sort of find out what the core strengths is, and need to have a plan, if I have a plan, and what I'm doing activities and where I'm focused on and where I want to be in a vision and execute on the world and I can still look at shiny toys, I just look at them late at night sort of thing when I'm not supposed to be when I'm focused on the plan but as long as you execute and keep that plan, you're delivering smash it.

Josh: Love that, when and when it comes to your specific company, or now that you know, challenges service, you do have multiple companies, but with this with this company in general, how have those strengths played to make this company successful.

Stewart: and again, it goes back to that planning execution so when when you're working to build an indirect sales team and an indirect revenue, base, have to go to market research that understand the space and then have a clear, clear path to execution and you've got to be very good at pushing back that people think they know best don't mean that arrogantly or big headed but a lot of people think that direct sales, selling the software in a direct model is the same as indirect. It's not it's a subtly different so you have to have a plan that you execute against and that's what I brought into the business is a set of deliverables and some experience from doing this in multiple sort of hats around that, so that I can execute successfully for clients and transfer that knowledge to them as well and that can be, you know, sometimes it turns into a bit of a mentor ship, as well to the, to the founder about how to execute and sort of stay on plan around that but for me, it's been encrypt back have deliverables that are clear and concise that you can execute against with deliverable time, and communication and it's took four years to get there, I didn't have that at the start at the start, I was very wishy washy, and just sort of brain dump in everything, whereas now it's very clear and have milestones and that means I can execute with multiple clients at the same time, but still deliver high quality and still deliver against what the plan is for them.

Josh: Love that. You know, it's funny, I have a notebook. It's called the notebook test for myself, where if I'm constantly sitting down jotting down notes about my business, I'm not clear enough and I need this time to sit down and actually spend as much time as it takes to get clear on the direction I have because it if I'm constantly taking those notes, that means I don't know, the four steps that I need to take in the future to make us to help us win and doesn't mean you're in a bad place just means you need to focus on you obviously need to get your direction straight so I love that you found that for your own company, right because we all start off really wishy washy, finding our market finding the messaging, it's, that's half the battle.

Stewart: Yeah exactly and, and again, it goes back to knowing your strengths so I've always worked environments where it was not dictated but there's a clear path about you what role was in those processes in place already, and you followed them so in corporate land, you've got your direction, on the first of January, it was like, This is the message the next four months, you don't deviate in the startup land, it was slightly different, this is your message for this week and it may change tomorrow, type of thing so I had to be clear about what that was so it took me a couple of clients engagements to really understand the hat of that plan the structure, because they were looking to me of well, what's what's what you're delivering what you know, you can't just talk to me about stuff, you've got to deliver stuff and having never worked in sort of a service delivery type model before, it was a bit alien to me. So you know, that's, that's a key thing that I've learned is plan execution deliverable and then you can scale but also deliver, deliver the value.

Josh: Love that, well, and you've worked with so many clients out with your own company, getting yourself to that point where you know, the deliverables, you know, what you're providing for people so I want to ask you this, like, what, what is your most recent one that you're most excited about with your existing company?

Stewart: Good, well, I can't name the client that I was working with them for quite a long time and we managed to broke a contract with a very large, I'm going to be really ambiguous because basically, we managed to broker a contract with a very large global software provider, that is most people's desktops depend on what sort of piece of laptop Yeah and that meant we had a distribution path going through their top 10 distributors and essentially, this provider sells 93% of their software through the cloud and we were getting attached to that as well. So it was something we worked on brokered a deal and sort of navigated through or path over 12 months, and getting that overload online, not as an employee, but as a contractor working in parallel with the client and it was like, yeah, crack open the champagne, it was just if it wasn't the revenue that we'd want, it was just the fact that we've navigated this complex path and aid, I'd help support that and guide it through and then turn it into revenues or side by execution and owning that and to me, it's very well, you know, it's like, I was pleased but I couldn't shower but I can't talk about it, you don't get a cup or award or anything, that was you know, amazing, it was really good to see and it also made me think right, okay, yeah, there is legs in this business and people do need this, not everybody needs it, but people do need it as well and it gives you that sort of kick because again, if you're acting as an individual consultant, contractor, whatever is is quite lonely land around that and you don't normally get those sort of things and again, as I was just just a final note, one of my clients that was quite local finish working with them, late last year COVID hit you know, their business setup, pull everything back, and it was my fifth year in February, and just out the blue, if somebody some champagne, a cake and some biscuits and a card all staff had virtually signed and that was quite touching moment that even though not work there for like six months, I've been working there to help them get them through a large project and to delivery for a new SaaS product but they had to let delay go to market, it's a market this year but they still remembered and said, you know, if we can bring you back and we're going live, we'll bring you back again so it's just nice little moments like that, that you see the reward of an activity or project or campaign and think people do recognize that and you get you get to pat yourself on the back.

Josh: Yeah, those are the great moments those are what make business fun, right is saying, Hey, this is a win, I love asking that question because it's always different, it's never like, Oh, we hit a million dollars, right sometimes it is, but it's most of the time, it's like it was this amazing relationship or amazing contract that just helped you feel fulfilled and it's, it's cool to see that I love to see those so Stewart, can you give us a little bit of background on on who you are as far as with your company and where we can connect with you?

Stewart: Yeah, course. Yeah, so channel as a service, the links, everything will be in the show notes and all that sort of aspect so base, I provide indirect about my consultancy for b2b SaaS companies who want to buy a building indirect sales channel and that normally is a company's doing about 50 to 100 KMRR they've got direct sales working marketing's working, and they want to go out there and work through resellers or bars or distributors, and take their product out to another market so I come in as a tribe before you hire, he basically hire me, I'll build a program build or structure contractual agreements, find the partners gets the first point of revenue and then normally, it's like, I carry on or behind somebody and I step back and let everybody else reap the rewards around it and that's, that's essentially I sort of work on a limited client basis and so I can deliver all the value to them.

Josh: Love that. So make sure you go check that out so it's channelasservice.com make sure you go check that website out and honestly, if any of you know any SAD companies, you know, anybody who's sitting right that spot, maybe they've got 50 employees, most people don't know this, but SaaS companies don't really make enough money even cover their costs for the first few years and a lot of cases, and someone like Stewart can come in, help them really establish that and get those revenues coming in some really great direct sales opportunities for them as well so make sure if you know anybody like that, hit him up as well and push referrals his way as well so Stewart I appreciate you coming on here and I have one final question for you. Which is if you could leave, leave us with one final parting piece of guidance. What would that be?

Stewart: Warm air out this one warm air but I think it's coming back to what I've been talking about, which is just know your strengths, it may take into your 50 like me, or you may know it when you're 21 and be really cool, I didn't know what to do with 21 but just know what your strengths are and don't try and play to the market so for me, it's like don't go invest in I know that and took some pain but once you realize what your strengths are, anything else is really easy and you're just smash it in terms of whatever you're going to do in life.