Staying motivated as the owner of any business can be a challenge. When you own an IT business, it can be even harder.
A lot in IT has changed over the past two decades. With technology becoming ubiquitous in everyday work tasks, and the transformation of the internet into a utility, IT service providers who were once revered as wizards are now seen as a necessary evil. Add to this the growing liabilities and responsibilities managed services providers (MSPs) face around security, and you can understand why stress levels are mounting.
But it’s not all gloom and doom. The industry is still growing, and for those committed to growing with it, there exists great opportunity for revenue and profits. There is a reason why so much private equity money is moving into our industry. Private equity firms see potential and so should you.
So how do we keep motivated on a day-to-day basis?
You’re the captain of your ship. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll become distracted and confused. Long-term goals give you and your business a destination. On the other hand, short-term goals provide guide posts and interim wins to keep you going in the right direction. For example, as an MSP owner, I had long-term annual revenue goals, broken down into short-term weekly revenue goals. Whenever we met our weekly revenue goals, I treated the whole office to lunch. This helped boost morale and keep the business on track.
The stress of running a business can take its toll, both mentally and physically. Take time to care for yourself so you will have the energy to push through the difficult tasks of the day. For example, I spend 30 minutes each morning walking and listening to non-work-related podcasts. I also spend at least one to two hours per week fishing at our pond. Getting your body outdoors and your mind off work keeps both in better shape to address the work ahead.
This industry is changing daily, and the threats are increasing just as fast. It’s critical to stay on top of the latest industry trends to stay ahead of the curve. Take the time to read, listen to industry-related podcasts, and go to industry-related conferences. The first two are easy. The third is the hardest but can also be the most rewarding. The first conference I attended marked a tipping point for my business. Conferences are where industry experts present the latest information and where your peers discuss how they are addressing the problems you currently face or will face soon. Being surrounded by industry leaders who are just as passionate as you can be a real game changer.
Unless your business consists of just yourself, you are a leader of other people. Tell your employees what you’re trying to accomplish. Bring them along for the ride. Get them invested in your vision and goals. This requires you to be a good communicator, honest, and willing to accept failure for the whole organization. It also requires making sure you have the right people on the bus and in the right seats—meaning the right employees for your company doing the jobs that are right for them. For many of us, these things do not come naturally. Take advantage of resources like Manager Tools to learn how to lead and manage people well.
Establish and maintain good working relationships with your clients to ensure your company’s success. In this industry, bad things are going to happen—data loss, security breaches, and downtime are all going to happen at some point. The type of relationship you have with your client will influence the outcome when they do. Clients who know you care and value their best interests will have more tolerance toward you while you work to fix the problem. The best tool for building these relationships is frequent and consistent contact—like quarterly business review meetings.
You may think many of the tips above don’t sound like they have anything to do with staying motivated. But I have found that in business, and in life, measuring progress, maintaining relationships, and keeping your body and mind healthy are key to staying motivated. Goals and progress milestones give you a pathway to success. Relationships give you the teamwork to get things done. Health and wellness give you the energy to keep moving forward. Combined they are a formidable arsenal for motivation, and ultimately, success.
Eric Anthony is principal of customer experience at SolarWinds MSP. Before joining SolarWinds, Eric ran his own managed services provider business for over six years.
You can follow Eric on Twitter at @EricAnthonyMSP
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