Without change, growth is not possible. This applies to MSPs just as it applies to all companies in all industries.
Change just for change’s sake, however, is not the point. You have to know why you are changing. You also have to know exactly which changes will benefit you and what to expect as you implement those alterations.
As an MSP, you certainly want to grow your client base. But this also means adding more people to your staff list. Knowing what to expect with both of these shifts is key.
We spoke with several industry experts with recent experience growing and expanding their client base, services, and employment opportunities. These are their most noted and stressed tips when it comes to growing an MSP to 50 people or more.
#1 – Your company culture may change.
At the beginning of your company’s creation, you may have been building your business and client base with one or two friends as your co-founders and co-workers. Perhaps you “went to work” in an office down the hall from your bedroom or in your basement or garage.
That’s going to change. According to Michael Nelson of TLC Tech in Sacramento, “We all have a culture in our companies when we are small. It’s easy then. We’re all together and usually, everyone reports to one person. Carrying that forward as you grow is the challenge.”
The good news is, if you expect these changes, you can anticipate them, and that awesome culture you had at the beginning of your company’s founding doesn’t have to be eradicated. Nelson goes on to say: “It must be built into your processes and your people. It needs to endure when the owner no longer has daily interactions with the people on the team.”
#2 – Hire the right people from the very beginning.
President of Advantage Industries, Keith Heilveil had this to say: “For Advantage, growing from 10-30 employees has been a result of attracting the right clients and then hiring the right people to support those clients.”
In other words, his approach was to see who they wanted to service with their MSP first and then hire the people necessary for the job. Most important here is hiring people who can actually get the job done from the get-go.
#3 – Start enduring processes now.
How you handle every process within your company — from who answers the phones, who responds to emails, who meets with potential clients, and who cleans out the microwave in the kitchenette — needs to be started now.
TLC Tech’s Michael Nelson puts it this way: “Processes are critical to keeping the culture and the engine running well through growth. If there are not well-defined processes, then each person is going to do things as they think best. This creates confusion and inconsistent results for your customers. Never good.”
“[You need] effective and efficient back end process. For example, when a customer signs a contract, what happens next? How is that client handed off to order entry? To support? When new product opportunities arise, how are they evaluated? How are they priced? How are they rolled out to existing customers? To new customers? Having a concise plan to implement every aspect of your business means, fewer problems and more satisfied customers. Equally important is an annual evaluation of those processes as your company grows. Make sure process scales with client and revenue growth.”
#4 – Understand there’s more change to come.
Lastly, don’t ever think that change is going to stop. Continual evolution is mandatory for success.
Jimmy Zehner, CEO & Owner of IT Network Solutions Group LLC put it this way:
“Change is inevitable. With it comes trials and opportunities, cost and profit, and a litany of variables. When our company grew, we saw increased overhead costs, higher infrastructure costs, and a sizable jump in HR issues. However, despite the challenges of growth, the advantages have taken us to new heights”
If you embrace change and seek opportunities in it, this is the best way not only to grow but to prosper. Said Zehner of one of the biggest changes anyone of any industry has experienced in decades — the COVID-19 pandemic: “Growth through the pandemic has allowed us to flip the script and excel in an economic downturn.”
In the end, if you can learn to expect change and take advantage of the benefits it brings — making adjustments where necessary as you go — your MSP can be just as successful.