Stuart Bryan, founder of Taftville, Conn.-based I-M Technology, shares three suggestions he'd apply if he were launching an MSP today.
1. Determine what type of business you want to build – An MSP can be a lot of things today. You can manage people's cloud offerings, security offerings, IT service offerings.
Knowing what you're going to offer and what kind of business you want to run has to basically start with asking the right questions.
What kind of client size do I want? What kind of vertical industry or niche do I want to serve?
Certain verticals, certain niches, have their own kind of headaches; whether it's employee certifications, certain kinds of insurances you may have to carry, the kinds of support those companies might require.
Like, do I want to make sure that I have a company that is not working on the weekends or evenings?
If that's the case, then I need to make sure I've weighed industries that have that as part of their requirements.
2. Develop messaging that is consistent internally and externally – I would focus on “why we do it,” and make sure that the clients that we pick and the employees that we have really, truly buy into our “why.”
A lot of it has to do with trying to track companies and employees that understand the mindset that we have here; what kind of paradigm we operate under.
We found that if we have clients and employees who get it and buy into it, everyone is happier. The messaging is consistent internally and the clients have the end result that they are expecting.
We're not just out there to be what everybody else is. Instead, we're trying to build what we want to do within the philosophy that I have.
3. Determine your endgame – There are a lot of people who are in business who feel that they have to grow, grow, grow in order to be a successful business.
They have to focus on that top line revenue. They have to focus on client acquisition. They have to focus on those kinds of things in order to feel that they are successful.
That is essentially something that's presented as a truth, but it's a false truth.
You don't have to actually constantly be in aggressive client acquisition mode.
If you do that, it's going to change how you interact with your employees and clients. It's going to change the kind of business decisions that you make.
You're going to focus on the things that help you grow, not necessarily things that will help you deliver the best result to your employees and your clients.
A lot of MSP owners I find have an end game in mind, where they're growing something to leave it.
They're in, they grow it, and then they want to get out. And if that's their goal, that's fine. But there's nothing wrong with wanting to own a successful business that's a part of a community that takes care of its employees, takes care of its clients, and affords the principals in the business the lifestyle that they're happy to have; that they desire.
If I could offer some advice, I'd probably tell people to take a look at Simon Sinek's book on "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action."
Also, “Small Giants” by Bo Burlingham, which talks about how to grow a company that's not necessarily one that's going to try to shoot for the moon at a rapid pace, but instead is going to be one where you'll have a business that's a good community citizen, as well as taking care of its clients and employees.
Editor’s note: Comments are edited to improve readability.