Gregg Lalle, SVP International Sales and Strategy at ConnectWise explores how MSPs can bolster their businesses.
The tumultuous events of the past two years have completely reset the definition of normal. Today’s new business landscape features varying degrees of virtual work, fast-shifting technology needs, increased concerns around cybersecurity and more.
MSPs will need to respond proactively to these challenges and changes to keep things running smoothly and take advantage of new opportunities.
By focusing on five strategic areas, MSPs will be well positioned to scale their business and lay the foundations for sustainable future success.
- Focus on efficiency
For MSPs of all sizes and at every stage of development, a recurring challenge is how to improve efficiency. For most organisations, this should begin with a thorough understanding of their cash flow situation – where is every Pound, Euro and Dollar going, where the obvious and subtle problems are occurring, and where further investment would help increase effectiveness.
Don’t forget, there’s an important difference between mission critical investment and resourceful, strategic shifts in priorities. An MSP may, for instance, need to invest in a new RMM platform to increase their ability to scale, while other efficiency challenges can be fixed by re-allocating responsibilities (such as having employees split a task into areas that align with their expertise). Either way, looking at the options for automating routine tasks can free up technical time for more important tasks geared towards key KPIs.
- Build the right customer base for your business
A major issue that influences how effectively MSPs can scale is the makeup of their customer base, identifying what constitutes an ‘ideal customer’, and then cultivating that profile to meet the ambitions of the business. The ideal customer will often depend on the goals for growth, the availability of in-house vs. external skill sets, and the offerings currently in place vs. those that are planned for the future.
While some MSPs specialise in a defined market niche, others may want to diversify into new verticals or define vertical opportunities not by industry, but by service speciality. Whatever the preferred route, capabilities need to match ambition.
- Explore new service offerings
Service diversification can be a great way to scale without even needing to bring on net-new customers. Take the explosion of remote work in 2020, for example, and the changes this has created across millions of businesses, where the potential for MSPs to widen their service portfolios is considerable.
The options can include helping customers improve security, connectivity performance or shifting from on-premises servers and local software to the cloud – the list goes on. These requirements may present opportunities for MSPs to provide additional support.
Cybersecurity is a good example, and building an offering for clients doesn’t necessarily mean that an MSP has to build new products, design new services themselves or even hire new workers. Instead, security services can be based around an outsourced SOC, where the provider monitors for threat detection with specialty software and provides security information and event management (SIEM) services, etc. The right mix of offerings will be different for every MSP, but diversifying into security can help with scaling.
- Invest in training & development
Investing in team training and development can help MSPs significantly enhance their capabilities and put them in an ideal position to scale-up existing services or add something completely new. Some new offerings may require technicians to pass certifications, while others may not follow an absolute requirement but can help build customer confidence that the team has the expertise to support them.
Training and education isn’t just for engineers and technicians, every employee and job role can benefit from development investment, helping MSPs to raise their game across the board and put them in a strong position to identify and exploit growth opportunities.
- Build a positive and engaging company culture
It should almost go without saying, but building a great place to work will have a major impact on the ability of any organisation to scale. Happy employees who have opportunities to develop do better work, while new talent not only looks for great benefits, but also a thriving culture.
Given that many MSP teams have spent much of the last year apart, reinvigorating company culture may be a welcome step for everyone in the business. For example, the value of local communities and businesses has never been more apparent, and organisations who actively support a local non-profit or charitable organisation are playing a huge role in enabling people to cope with and recover from the varied stresses of the pandemic.
And looking internally, teams that get together for virtual socials, such as a weekly Zoom chat, can help maintain a positive culture that will be important long after the pandemic. Ultimately, and despite the huge emphasis on technology, every MSP is only as good as the people who work there. So by making sure the team feels fulfilled and that culture remains strong, MSPs will have a healthier, happier business that is always well placed to scale and embrace growth.
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