To succeed in the MSP business in today’s world, an MSP owner must have several different skillsets and be able to hone them regularly. No matter their background, MSP owners must be able to understand both business and technology. If they don't, the likelihood of failure is quite high.
In “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It,” Michael Gerber reveals that most businesses fail because technicians, instead of business-minded people, are usually the ones starting businesses. While technicians may be good at what they do, they usually don’t know the ins and outs of running a business, which is why many of them fail.
In the MSP space, technicians starting MSPs is more common than not, but does it matter?
Should Technicians Start Their Own MSPs?
The reality is that technicians are usually the ones starting their own MSPs — and that’s not something that’s going to change anytime soon, or ever.
Instead of fighting this natural progression for some technicians, it’s necessary to the success of MSPs, vendors and other players in the IT channel that the industry should continue to focus on helping technician shortcomings through a variety of educational resources, especially when those shortcomings are due to a lack of business awareness or knowledge.
Over the years, top business pain points for MSPs haven’t changed much. To this day, MSPs are still struggling with sales and marketing, work-life balance, and revenue growth, according to Datto’s 2019 State of the MSP Report. The main reason why this is the case is that these topics, all of which are essentially business challenges that all business owners face, are oftentimes difficult for MSP owners with technical backgrounds to grasp and excel in.
Channel leaders and executives should also encourage technicians-turned-business-owners to take online or in-person business classes and connect with other business leaders in their communities in order to get a better sense of how business-minded people not only think but also present themselves when conducting business with customers, prospects, and other business owners.
While it may seem like it's better to have a background in business instead of technology, that’s not always the case. At the end of the day, MSPs are hired to protect their customers’ systems and networks, and if they can’t deliver the results expected of them, they won’t be able to generate revenue at all, even with a business-minded individual at the helm.
So, Do Business-Minded People Make the Best MSP Owners?
It’s true: An MSP owner must think like a businessperson, but that doesn't always mean someone without technical skills can run a successful MSP. In addition to having a business mindset, an MSP owner must have an understanding of technology and how it can be used to properly protect and grow businesses. MSPs are in the technology business, after all.
Without a technical background, an MSP owner must rely on others to assist with solving client issues when they arise. While this may not seem like an issue at first (managers usually delegate tasks to their workers), consider how it would look if an MSP owner couldn't answer basic technology questions when interacting with prospects. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing and awkward?
Unlike businesspeople, technicians have hands-on experience with the technology they’re installing, managing, and monitoring for customers. They know what works, what can be improved upon, and how new technologies can be seamlessly integrated into solutions they’re already delivering to customers. That kind of insight is extremely valuable to an MSP owner who’s looking to get ahead by delivering innovative offerings with breakthrough technologies.
So, is one skill set more important than the other? Are technicians always destined to fail when starting businesses? Should they move out of the way to let businesspeople run MSPs?