Computer One’s James Walker: ‘Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype’
James Walker, founder and managing director of Australia-based Computer One, has several simple rules to live by when starting an MSP from scratch. One of the most important things to keep in mind, he says, is not letting yourself get distracted by new, bright and shiny technology.
“The industry, news and even the ways other MSPs operate may challenge this, but in order to stick to your client’s road map and deliver results that follow that without a bunch of unnecessary extras is crucial,” says Walker.
Along with this, Walker touts good company culture and smart money management. Read on to find out more about Walker’s essential aspects for starting and maintaining a solid MSP.
1. Don’t get caught up in the hype.
This is a hard one — it’s called hype for a reason. Solid businesses are built on strong delivery against actual client requirements. In reading a lot of the news articles these days surrounding managed services, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you have to be on the cutting edge of technology, dragging your clients into a “bold new future” so that they can enjoy new efficiencies and new ways of working, and regard IT with the sort of reverence normally reserved for visiting dignitaries.
The reality, however, is that your clients often think of IT as a drag on their business activities — an unfortunate and expensive must-have. So they will appreciate it when you can match their IT road map to their business objectives and support the pace of their development. The most important aspect is that information be accessible and the functions that their staff members need to perform are not hampered by IT. Concentrate on that solid performance delivery and you will find that opportunities to influence how your clients do business using IT will flow from it, not the other way around.
2. Get cultured.
This is a popular one, but it bears repeating. The right culture is developed and cultivated by your leadership. You must live and breathe it, and actions really do speak louder than words. Strong leadership doesn’t mean being heavy-handed; it means identifying and upholding your business values, and committing to expressing those behaviors yourself. Every single day.
All of the motivational posters and fancy talk in the world won’t help develop your culture if you deviate from the behaviors that you require of your staff while you’re building your business. The right culture makes an immeasurable amount of difference to your clients’ satisfaction and retention levels, and it all starts with you.
3. Cash is king.
Control over your cash flow makes for a better night’s sleep than any medicine. It’s easy to deliver great work, but if you’re slow to invoice or your payment terms aren’t being met by your clients, the impact could be damaging. It might be harder to retain good staff, invest in the right opportunities, and most importantly, to enjoy what you do. Get a great bookkeeper as soon as you can. He or she will make all the difference to your ability to grow. In the meantime, you must find the time every month to ensure that your invoicing is timely and your clients’ payment terms are sharp.
James Walker is the founder and managing director of Computer One, an IT services company that covers the full spectrum, from a managed service desk through to business communications and video conferencing, software development and information security. Computer One has clients from many industries across the Eastern Seaboard of Australia with offices in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. James has consulted for some of Australia’s most well-known brands on security, productivity improvements and the future of IT.