Emily Wilson, CEO of decade old Computer Troubleshooters of Greensboro, NC, shares three suggestions she'd apply if she were launching an MSP from scratch right now.
1. Carefully choose products and vendors - It’s really important to figure out what products and solutions you want to offer by evaluating what is most important to your target market. Backup and security are probably the most important things that your client will be looking for. They must have a way to protect and recover their information. Once you decide what solutions you want to offer your clients, selecting appropriate vendors to partner with is critical. You want to find a reliable vendor that offers a quality product and is "channel-friendly." They should not sell directly to your client, but should understand the importance of your role.
2. Specialize in a vertical market - As a new MSP, it can be tempting to accept any and every client that comes your way. I would recommend specializing in one or two industries and narrowing your focus. Whether it’s medical practices, insurance offices, or law firms, choosing one group of clients gives you the opportunity to really master the software used in that industry. For example, for medical clients, the solutions need to be HIPAA compliant. This will also narrow down your vendor and solution options. Becoming familiar with the specific needs of your clients will set you apart from your competition. It will also allow you to target your marketing and build a reputation among a particular industry.
3. Don't neglect people skills - I think one of the biggest services that you’re offering is your team, your employees. Your local team is what’s supporting your client, they provide the service in that relationship. It has to be a talented, quality team that’s responsive and efficient because people expect everything right now -- they don’t want to wait two weeks, two days, or even two hours. Having a team that’s on the ball is really important. You need skilled technicians that are also good at dealing with people.
Ten years ago, managed services wasn’t really a thing. I started my business in 2006, and it was a very new concept then. I found clients from all over the map: plumbers, attorneys, moving companies, oral surgeons, accountants, etc. Everybody needs computers. The challenge is that it's hard to know all the ins and outs of each industry with limited time and resources.
In 2006, it was more about cleaning off viruses and fixing hardware issues. Now, it’s more about managing the client and working with their vendors. It's a different skill set. A lot of it carries over, but service providers now have to have people skills, not just IT skills.
To carry out the concept of managed services, we’re doing more than fixing problems. We're being proactive in prevention, developing strategies with our clients, consulting, etc. We’re coming up with products and solutions so that we can provide efficiency and access to company information while balancing security concerns and data protection. We’re keeping them from getting viruses, instead of fixing viruses.
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