MSPs And IT Services Owners: Focus On This First In Your Business

Robin Robins MSP Business Development Leave a Comment

The first thing you should focus on is getting the idea of focusing on one thing out of your head!

This is just another version of the “What’s the one thing?” question dressed up in a Halloween costume. You need to focus on several things at once. If you focus on marketing without focusing on the operations of your MSP, then you won’t have anything to sell. If you don’t focus on finances, you could run out of money. If you focus on building a team, you might not have the funds to sustain yourself while you’re getting marketing going.

So, instead of one thing, here are a few things you need to think about to get you going.

Who is my customer and what can I offer that would have them lining up to buy?

This question requires thought, research, and experimentation. It’s a combination of picking a specific target market and developing your USP, or unique selling proposition. (More on that here.) Most businesses never really figure this out. They start out scrappy, taking any client, any opportunity that floats their way. This isn’t a bad thing in the beginning. Problem is, most never move beyond being scrappy to being more strategic – over time your client list and business become a scrap HEAP from years and years of you failing to build a business by design instead of by default.

Note this: You CANNOT appeal to an unfocused market with a line like “Everyone with 10 to 100 computers within driving distance of my office.” NOBODY, and no product, is going to be bought by 100% of any market – yet the biggest mistake EVERYONE makes by far is trying to appeal to the vast majority of people out there: the middle of the market. And in doing so, they simply design average services, at average prices for average customers. Boring and broke.

How This Managed Service Provider Took His Business From $2 Million To $6.5 Million In Less Than 3 Years!

What can I offer that is scalable, profitable, and competitive?

When building your service offering, less is better in the beginning. Too many variables, too many products, and too many moving parts are going to add unnecessary complexity to your model, which will eat profits. When I started my company, I ONLY offered the Toolkit as the entry product, then I added my personal consulting on the back end of that (to buyers of the Toolkit). That offer was profitable, scalable, and competitive (there was nothing like it on the market for MSPs, VARs, and IT services firms). Over time, your offering needs to evolve to offer more to your existing clients, but in the beginning, keep it simple and profitable.

How do I make money?

A mistake you’re nearly certain to make: charging too little for what you do. While there’s a place in the world for Walmart, it’s a model that only works on a large scale. As a solo practitioner, you can’t afford to win the race to the bottom. It’s foolish on so many levels, not just in starving your business from the critical profits it needs to grow.

What’s my endgame?

You should at least know your five-year plan. Where do you need to be to make the money you want to make? Even before this, you should know the “enough is enough” number for your MSP – the amount of money you need to live out your days without working another single day. A quick back-of-the-napkin way to get there is to take your current annual income needed and multiply that by 30. I learned a long time ago from Napoleon Hill to define a specific amount of money I wanted to have. Not vague. Not “eight figures.” Precise.

Then work toward that number every day, measuring yourself monthly, quarterly, and annually toward progress made. I wish I had been more focused on this early on and that someone had given me this advice. I would have been far more serious about building the company the RIGHT way in the first 10 years. Not that I was failing by any stretch. But making a lot of money is not the only goal for a business. Sustainability is also a goal, as are succession planning and exits.

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