“Who are we, and why are we here?” Mark Roshon found himself asking this powerful question about his company, Tornado Technologies, following a lackluster 2006 and 2007. “We had been experiencing growth every year until those last two years. Things became very stagnant,” he said. “We hit a plateau, and I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”

Twelve-year-old Tornado Technologies had gradually become a one-stop shop for solving clients’ IT problems. “Our clients liked working with us, and they’d say, ‘Can you do this?’” Roshon explained. Eager to please customers, Tornado Technologies gradually expanded from its initial goal of creating custom applications for companies to offering IT support, website design, SEO strategies and a host of Internet-related work. In the process, the company was losing its identity and its momentum, according to Roshon.

How could this 12-employee company stop being all things to all people, find its true purpose and set a course for ongoing success?

Tornado Technologies is a Cleveland-based software development company that works with small-to-medium size businesses to help them be more operationally efficient. In the course of forming his business, Roshon has surrounded himself with talented IT professionals.

“Mark is not just a gifted program engineer by trade, he has also assembled a fascinating, creative group with incredible value to offer the business,” Andy observed.

These capable folks could solve just about any IT problem that came their way. Tornado Technologies’ roughly 150 clients appreciated the company’s capabilities and its customer-focused way of doing business. Roshon liked the service aspect of Tornado Technologies, but he also wanted the company to develop more of its own products.

Just as when an individual tries to do too many things at once, and attempts to help a number of people in a variety of ways, Tornado Technologies was burning out. Roshon felt the company spreading itself too thin. “We had become 100 percent sales-oriented. It was getting harder to manage because there were so many different skill sets involved,” he said. Finding sales—especially high-margin sales—was becoming more difficult, too.

Roshon’s business sense told him to take a proactive approach toward ending Tornado Technologies’ stagnation and finding its ultimate purpose.

Although 2007 was not a great year for Tornado Technologies, the company did land a very big project that would last several months into 2008. Roshon saw this lucrative period as a good time to analyze what wasn’t working within the company and make some changes.

He attended the 2007-2008 COSE Strategic Planning Course. The classes helped him to better understand his business, but he still felt he needed direction in order to truly define its vision. “You can’t make a strategy if you don’t know who your company is,” he said.

It was Andy’s keynote speech to the 2007-2008 graduating class of the COSE Strategic Planning Course that really made Roshon think about what he wanted his company to be. “Andy talked about a company’s Best and Highest Use. I had no idea what ours was,” Roshon said.

Roshon approached Andy with a laundry list of issues that needed to be addressed. Andy told him that the root cause of all of them revolved around the company not capitalizing on its Best and Highest Use. Andy helped Roshon define Tornado Technologies’ Best and Highest Use and create a marketing direction based on that. Along the way, they tackled three key issues:

  1. Building success from the inside.
    Roshon came to realize that his company’s Best and Highest Use was helping other companies become more operationally efficient. This was Tornado Technologies’ purpose, and fulfilling that purpose meant stepping back to internally refocus. “We needed to pay attention to becoming operationally efficient ourselves,” he said, recalling an “Aha!” moment while working with Andy. “Then we’d be able to develop a vision for the company and define who we are and our values.”

    Roshon brought on a COO who is well versed in the IT industry and who is responsible “for putting together the processes of how we deliver our programs,” Roshon said. “The COO will systemize how we do things and oversee the process, which frees me up so I can work 100 percent on sales.”

  2. Moving away from the “all things to all people” approach.
    If Tornado Technologies’ Best and Highest Use was helping companies become more operationally efficient, it would have to let go of the jack-of-all-trades identity it had established. “By being so customer focused, he was limiting his ability to provide his Best and Highest Use,” Andy explained. “He had to reconcile his company’s Best and Highest Use with what the marketplace, narrowly defined, would value the most to pay for.” Simply put, Tornado Technologies couldn’t concentrate on high-margin sales because it was spending too much time focusing on every need of its customers.

    Andy worked with Roshon to set up three distinct product levels: one with ready-to-use solutions that customers could easily purchase via the Internet, another with pre-built modules offering customized tweaks and the third with completely customized products. The third level would allow Tornado Technologies’ creative team to focus on one-of-a-kind products and thus execute the company’s Best and Highest Use.

    This creates a win-win situation for Tornado Technologies and its customers. “When other companies have more efficient systems, it frees up more resources that they can devote to other aspects of their business, thus allowing them to pursue their vision,” Roshon explained.

  3. Creating a brand and sharing it with others.
    “We never tried to brand ourselves before,” Roshon admitted. With Andy’s encouragement, Roshon hired a marketing administrator to create lead generation and awareness programs for the company’s new positioning, which is based on its new Best and Highest Use.

Tornado Technologies has worked throughout the summer of 2008 to create changes that will gradually be implemented over the next six or eight months; therefore, the full impact of Roshon and BGC’s collaboration has yet to be realized. Nevertheless, Roshon already senses a breath of fresh air sweeping through his company.

Having a COO on board has given him time to work on the company’s sales process. As the Tornado Technologies team learns more about the changes that are being implemented, “people understand a bit of the direction, and they like it,” Roshon said.

Tornado Technologies has redefined its core purpose—to help other businesses achieve their vision—as well as its core values. With the question, “who are we and why are we here” clearly answered, Tornado Technologies now takes off on a path toward continual growth and success. And with Andy’s counsel, Roshon says, “We certainly will get there much faster!”

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