Like most IT business owners, my background is one of being a Technician. Solving technical problems for clients in a consistent manner leads to more business, and before you know - you don’t own a job, you own a business.
But it’s at this stage - where you encounter multiple clients of different shapes and sizes, hiring and firing employees, getting to grips with sales and marketing - that many IT business owners become uncomfortable.
Some embrace the change and learn the new skills required to be a leader, while others find it too stressful and regress back into their comfort zone of being a highly skilled technician.
Unfortunately, it’s no longer enough to be a great Technician. With the advent of the consumerization of IT, the uptake of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the game-changer that is Cloud Computing - the reality is that IT is getting easier to deploy and use.
Clients now primarily need advice and guidance first and above Technical assistance. They need someone to show them how technology can be used to grow their business. They need someone to help them understand how the various systems and services can connect together to work for their business. They need someone they can trust for advice.
While the role of the Technician hasn’t gone away, simply put - to remain competitive amongst an ever increasingly crowded market, IT Solution Providers and Managed Service Providers now need to be more than just the “IT guy”.
“But I have enough on my plate keeping up to date with technology!” I hear you say. It’s true that you need to keep your technical saw sharp with research and regular training - being a great technician is still important. But you already have the perfect way to understand the challenges your small business clients are having. How? You own a small business yourself.
By focusing on growing your own business - by moving outside your comfort zone and becoming savvy at marketing, by building efficient operation systems, by embracing social media, by becoming a better salesperson - you are not only growing your own experience, but you’re gaining a valuable insight into the exact same issues your clients are experiencing. Meld this insight with your knowledge of the Technical and you have a powerful skillset that is valuable to your clients and differentiates you from your competitors.
Armed with greater knowledge about what it takes to run a successful business, you can sit down with your clients and offer them better advice on the challenges they are facing. At first, when asked, they’ll probably continue to share just those things that they consider “Technical”. Servers and Workstations. Printers and Scanners. You can help them with this, but also ask them the right questions to dig underneath the surface. For the client who wants a new printer to print off shipping receipts - why do they still use paper? Would they consider changing their workflow and using a tablet or e-mail to do this? For the client who suggest he needs a new server - could they move to the Cloud, freeing up capital expenditure and moving to an operating expenditure model?
Given the experience of growing your own business, learning the skills required to be a business leader, and overcoming the hurdles you’ve faced - you’ll begin to ask clients whether they can do things more efficiently, cheaper, or faster.
By talking in terms that business owners understand - time and money - you’ll earn their attention and their permission to offer more consultative advice.
In a crowded market full of great Technicians, it’s no longer enough to be great with IT.
Small Business owners are increasingly looking for somebody who can not only fix their computer, but guide them with business advice and talk in a language they understand.
If you take steps to step outside your comfort zone as a Technician and start to learn the skills required to become a business owner, you’re not only improving your own businesses prospects, but you’re gaining the experience that allows you to help your clients to do the same.
Over time, your clients will stop seeing you as the “IT guy” and see you as a fellow business owner who can provide them with great business advice and guidance that other “IT Guys” can’t.
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As the former owner of an award winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSPs to help them increase sales, take on employees and build up relationships with key industry contacts. You don't have to do it alone any more - contact Richard and have a chat about your needs and how he can help you.