What I’ve Learned in the Hosting Business
In 2008 I set out to bring web hosting technologies built around native IPv6 connectivity to market. In October of 2008, HostHaus was born. It’s been a long journey in the 7 years operating the business, with many lessons learned along the way. Most of what I’ve learned from running this business, is just how imaginative, innovative and creative our clients could be with the services we provided. We gave up the idea long ago of building a service suite to sell to customers in favor of building a boutique-style offering and catering to the needs of our clients. It works.
Not every business needs to find customers to sell their wares to. In fact, we’ve found great success, not only for ourselves – but for our clients as well, in offering a base set of services and customizing the add-ons and value-added services and functionality on top of it. Everything “hand made with love” for our clients. We service clients of all shapes and sizes – from multi-million dollar multi-national corporations to individuals just looking to get in on the IPv6 wave before it turns into a tsunami. Nothing about the offerings for each client are identical.
So, what have I learned in the 7 years of making this work? A lot. But a few key things stick out to me, some aren’t even specific to the hosting industry.
- Customer First Mentality. You’d think that this would be a no-brainer. It’s not. It’s exceptionally hard to balance the needs of a customer with the needs of the business. It’s important to sustain the business while not sacrificing your ability to help your customer achieve their goals. The key to success for this is conversation. Open a dialogue with your customer. Talk through their needs, what you can do, and come up with creative solutions to solve real problems. This helps more than just your bottom line.
- Don’t Sell Short. I’ve heard this time and time again, but never really knew how to apply it to a business as a whole. How we’ve applied this to HostHaus is to never sacrifice our brand by pricing ourselves into debt. In the hosting industry, you will always find providers who will sell you something at what appears to be an unbelievable price. Truth is – it’s not unbelievable – it’s unprofitable. We may offer discounts here and there, but we never sell our services for less than we pay for it. We also never oversell. We strongly believe that we may not be the lowest price in town, but we’ll be the best price. You get what you pay for.
- Be Picky. Not every customer is the right fit for your business, just like not every product or service is the right fit for a customer. This applies not only to your customers, but your providers, vendors, and partners as well. Pick and choose who you want to be in business with. Letting everyone in the door doesn’t make for a better business, a better service, or a better experience. Custom-tailor your client roster with people you can support really well, and those who will in turn support you.
- Never Back Down. This is a funny one for me because there are so many businesses that will bend to whatever the customer wants, the moment they start throwing a tantrum, arguing semantics, or trying to dodge their obligations. Stand your ground, be clear and concise in your communication, and be steadfast in your decision making. In the long run, it makes for a very transparent relationship for you and your customers.
In the 7 years of operating HostHaus, there have been ups, downs, and spin-arounds. At the end of the day, I’ve surrounded myself with amazing individuals who support my vision, back my vision, and execute amazingly well to deliver a great experience for all of our clients. This has transitioned into a phenomenal round table discussion as we’ve migrated the HostHaus brand under different management, different platforms, and with a renewed focus on delivering on that best-in-class performance promise: We’re in a class all by ourselves, and we do so by avoiding cookie-cutter everything.
For more information on HostHaus’ offerings, please visit our website at hosthaus.com. We’re always up for a conversation. Let us know if we can help. Even if it’s not listed on the website – we’d love to be a part of the conversation.