This post is seeking advice on whether to combine our CMS product and web design agency under one company and switch from a service agency with a product to a software company that also provides services that compliment the business. Or, keep the services and product separate and possibly set up a separate company for the product.
The full details
I'm looking for some advice on the next stage of my business. I own a small website design/development agency called Aptuitiv. We also develop a hosted website content management system for building and maintaining custom websites called BranchCMS.
We've been in business for 16 years and have been working on the CMS for a number of years. It originally started as our own product for our own clients because we found other CMS lacking for the custom websites that we build. Orignally the CMS was called Aptuitiv Studio. A few years back we spun it off under a different name as BranchCMS and set up a website for it (I know, it's not an awesome website for a design agency - too much time spent on client work).
At this point BranchCMS has grown to 19K MRR, 170 clients and 600+ websites running on our platform. Other than the website, we haven't actively marketed it. We now have a few design agency partners that us our software to build websites for their clients.
As the founder, my greatest job fulfillment is in creating solutions to problems with software. Our product is where I want our focus as a company to be. However, we don't have outside funding and there isn't enough revenue yet to switch our small team (4) to only doing product.
I've given a lot of thought about our future and see two viable options:
We don't have enough partners to fully give up designing and building websites. Plus, by doing the service work we have to use our own software that that has prompted a lot of feature growth and improvements.
With option 1, we wouldn't mention our services on the BranchCMS site, which may help alleviate any concerns with potential partners that we'd be competing with them. But given the size of the web design market, I'm not sure if that's a viable concern. The downfall to this is that we're continuing to be split between running two types of businesses. While they compliment each other, they are different and require different strategies for growth.
I'm leaning towards option 2 and putting our services and product under one name, Aptuitiv. The focus of our site would be our software and we'd have a services section where customers could hire us to design and build the site for them. But, we'd also be actively trying to grow our partner base of other agencies that would use our product for their clients.
With option 2, our initial plans for growth would be to promote our product as a solution in certain market verticals and actively offer our services. With enough traction we plan to eventually lower the attention on our services and promote our partners (assuming we gather more) and their services that are related to our product.
If you've reached it this far, thank you for reading this long post. :)
Has anyone been in a similar situation? Any advice or thoughts are greatly appreciated.