Economic Recession Looms? IT By Design CEO Offers Advice to MSPs

It’s the golden age for MSPs, but it’s vital to have a plan in place for when the world turns upside-down.

Allison Francis

July 27, 2022

4 Min Read
Kaila Billiar Build IT 2022

BUILD IT LIVE ’22 — The jury is still out on if we’re headed into an economic recession. But a lot of signs point to yes. If this does indeed come to pass, MSPs needn’t necessarily bite their nails. You need a plan, says IT By Design (No. 99 on the 2022 Channel Futures MSP 501) founder and CEO Sunny Kaila.

Sounds simple enough — or perhaps even overly simple.

But being caught without a solid “survive and thrive” plan when the world turns on its side is, to put it eloquently … bonkers.

It’s All About the Plan

It starts with building a strong community of colleagues, MSP partners, and a focus on continuous learning, according to Kaila. Next, you need to tackle the big industry challenges head-on. And you simply can’t do that without – you guessed it – a plan. 

“MSPs have typically done well during recessions because they provide necessary/vital services,” Kaila told Channel Futures at the Build IT Live conference. “But they need to be intentional about a few things. Build business models that are scalable and profitable. If you are not profitable, then you are in danger of dying. This is even more important on the brink of an economic recession. You must prepare for war during times of peace.”

There is a lot of money coming into the channel, but in order to build a robust plan and seize opportunities, MSPs must tackle the challenges in the industry. Three of the biggest are profit, talent and security. 


In terms of profit, the issues typically lie in MSPs not having insight into their numbers. This is a fairly significant problem, and it has become worse in the last few years due to growing labor and kit costs. 


With regard to talent, finding people is really tough. Finding good people is even tougher. In a breakout session led by ITBD partner experience manager Matt Mills, director of global channel engagement Todd Billiar and CEO Kaila (Kaila and Billiar pictured above) discussed how to hire consistently and develop a more robust talent pipeline. 

You can’t think of talent only when you need it; you must be proactive, said Billiar.

“You have to know what you want,” added Kaila. “It starts with understanding and knowing your culture, and documenting what an ideal candidate looks like in terms of that. Knowing what you want is imperative — this ensures and maintains the quality of talent.”


Everyone wants to say they have robust security. The issue becomes articulating the clarity of the value prop to the customer. It’s not easy. There is also a lot of vendor noise, lack of sales capability and a fair amount of risk — both internally and with customers.  

So, again, what to do with all of this, particularly in the face of a recession?

It’s worth repeating that MSPs have typically done well during recessions because they provide necessary services. But there are a few necessary components to success here. 

  • The first is to build cash confidence. This includes building cash reserves, knowing your numbers, controlling labor and kit costs, evaluating your operating costs, and expanding your credit line before you need it. Attention to these areas will allow you to keep doors open. 

  • The second component is customer focus. You’re not necessarily acquiring new customers during an economic recession, but you should focus on retaining your current ones. Understand their dangers, strengths — and then find opportunities. That will keep your customer’s retention.

Be Prepared

There are other components certainly, but the key theme here, and throughout all, is to be prepared.

There are high inflation rates, rising unemployment rates, etc. — all of these are recession indicators,” said Kaila. “MSPs have shown resilience in the past, and they’ll do it again. But they have to be prepared. “In peace, as a wise man, he should make suitable preparation for war. (Horace, book Satires.) There is a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time in terms of success, but you also must take action.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Allison Francis or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

Allison Francis

Allison Francis is a writer, public relations and marketing communications professional with experience working with clients in industries such as business technology, telecommunications, health care, education, the trade show and meetings industry, travel/tourism, hospitality, consumer packaged goods and food/beverage. She specializes in working with B2B technology companies involved in hyperconverged infrastructure, managed IT services, business process outsourcing, cloud management and customer experience technologies. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Drake University. An Iowa native, she resides in Denver, Colorado.

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