It’s one thing to start a business, but it’s a whole other task to build it and sustain it for months and years to come. This is especially true for managed services providers (MSPs), which act as trusted advisors to customers and must ensure they’re setting their clients up for long-term support that can adapt as technology and services needs change.
MSPs’ focus on long-term sustainability is one of the most important goals of modern business. Over the past two years, we have experienced significant economic uncertainty and global incidents. The COVID-19 pandemic confronted many companies by highlighting the importance of building sustainability into their business should these events occur in the future.
One common obstacle for MSP business leaders is that the field they’re trusted to support — technology — is constantly changing underneath their feet. As new technologies emerge, business leaders must be ready to adapt their services and train their teams to keep pace and ensure they're able to successfully support customers.
MSPs may also run into business challenges around finding the right talent, especially as there remains a significant shortage of IT, cloud, and cybersecurity talent. Additionally, business leaders may encounter roadblocks around more business-focused topics such as marketing and pricing strategy in order to be competitive with others. These are just a few examples of the hurdles MSP business owners may run into that may prevent them from building long-term, sustainable businesses.
MSPs that proactively address these challenges, as well as consider others that may arise, will be better prepared to handle any potential obstacles that may come their way. The sooner you start, the better. For instance, defining a clear business strategy from the start can help provide a clear guiding light for how an MSP will navigate any issue. This business strategy should also include determining what an MSP’s differentiators will be against the competition, such as focusing on a specific market or having deep expertise in a certain area. From there, an MSP can develop a clear pricing model that aligns with the market, and service-level agreements (SLAs) that will define customer expectations.
An MSP should also proactively consider a sales and marketing strategy that will help them secure new customers and constantly provide business expansion opportunities to ensure that the organization can weather any potential economic storms. Many MSPs tend to focus on word of mouth or referrals, as it has been shown to be a proven new-lead generation strategy. In addition to this, MSPs should also consider more active selling tactics, such as hiring a dedicated MSP salesperson or investing in branding activities — to drive further new business.
MSPs should also evaluate the current talent they have on their team. Given the ongoing IT and technology talent shortage, it would be beneficial for an MSP to consider building a recruitment strategy to help find new employees. Additionally, they should consider what ongoing training they can implement to ensure they are keeping employees up-to-date on the latest technology trends, as well as to help drive retention and employee satisfaction.
All of these steps have one thing in common — helping an MSP embrace change. By being proactive about their business model and constantly evaluating and training for new technologies, MSPs can better prepare their businesses to overcome any challenges that may come their way and ensure they’re able to support clients as their needs evolve.
According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the MSP market is expected to grow from $180.5 billion in 2018 to $282 billion by 2023 — a significant growth opportunity that is available for any business leader to grab who is willing to take the necessary actions to be prepared for change and business disruption.