While it may seem counter-intuitive to launch a business during a down economy, for IT professionals the worst of times may in fact prove to be the best of times. If you are an IT professional out of work, your chances of finding full-time employment with a vendor or IT services firm are quite narrow. That’s no reflection on your abilities necessarily, but rather an acknowledgment of the realities of the market. What should you do?
Like you, countless other IT professionals are out there looking for work, and at a time when job openings are scarce – U.S. unemployment is now at 10 percent – your best bet may well be to start your own business.
Think about it: The need for IT services hasn’t gone away. If anything, it has increased for small and midsize companies that, faced with having to make staff cuts, trimmed down their IT departments or eliminated them altogether. Those SMBs that haven’t realized it yet, will soon reach the conclusion they need professionals to keep their applications, hardware and networks running smoothly. And they need to safeguard their data with the appropriate security and backup and recovery processes.
In years past, running an IT services and consulting firm required a lot of legwork, logging in countless miles in a vehicle and constant customer site visits. Today, thanks to the ongoing developments in Software as a Service (SAAS), cloud computing and managed services, the legwork and business expense incurred by on-site work have been reduced significantly. Much of the routine, maintenance and software installation work that used to be handled on site is now possible remotely.
Case StudyAs the founders Jamie and Jenny Barmach of JEB & Co. found (here's a PDF case study), once they decided to go into business as a startup focused on the IT needs of the SMB space, the next big decision was identifying the right vendor with which to partner. Please read about their story here. Cloud-based services, which eliminates their investment in software or hardware allows them to provide 24/7 service to their clients.
Guaranteeing the level of service to customers in the past was either impossible for a thinly staffed startup or a sure and quick way to burn out. JEB & Co. delivers on the promise of reliable, robust IT services by utilizing engineers provided by their MSP partner. Also, as their client base grows, there is no need to worry about having enough engineers on staff because service is provided along with the software when they partner with the right vendor.
JEB & Co. generates a continuous revenue stream from delivering these services and their cash flow is maximized because they receive 30-day terms on the services and software they deploy.
With the right technology and business model in place, a new IT services company then has to develop and execute a sound marketing plan and customer recruitment strategy. Here too, the right technology partner can prove instrumental by sharing resources and proven best practices. But of course the founders of a company must bring their own market know-how, contacts and abilities to make an IT services firm successful.
Note: Maurice Saluan is VP-Channel Management for Zenith Infotech as well as seasoned sales veteran in the managed service arena. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor's 2010 Platinum sponsorship. Find all of Saluan’s blog entries here.