How to Work ON Your MSP Business, Not IN It

Richard Tubb

man working One of the books that transformed the way I viewed my own Managed Service Provider (MSP) business was what I like to refer to as The Managed Service Provider “Bible” - The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.

In a nutshell, The E-Myth looks at how a company grows as a result of you being a great Technician, but then you reach a point where being a great Technician does not equal being a great business owner.

It’s at this point you need to strongly refocus your time from working “in” the business (for MSP’s, this would mean doing day-to-day technical work) to working “on” the business (creating a structure for the business to work without you).

A familiar story for MSP’s

Sounds familiar huh? Nearly every small IT business I speak to (and many of the larger ones too) are struggling because the owner/manager is spending too much of his time dealing with:-

  • Handling client work
  • Looking after the finances
  • Dealing with administration
  • Managing staff

When what they really need to be doing is creating documented processes so other people can get on and do the work.

“But!” I hear you say “I simply haven’t got the time!”.

Slow Now, Quick Later

Most of us believe we don’t have time to do everything we need to do, and as a result, rush through our work so we can move onto the next thing that needs doing.

Have you heard of the old phrase “More Haste, Less Speed?”

The faster you try to do something, the more likely you are to make mistakes that make you take longer than it would have if you’d planned the work. In effect “Quick Now, Slow Later”.

This is especially true for MSP’s.

Almost *every* issue that an MSP faces day-to-day can be resolved by a solution that is re-usable in some way.

You just need to slow down and document the solution so you can re-use it next time.

You need to think “Slow Now, Quick Later” rather than “Quick Now, Slow Later”.


If you’re not sure what to start - take a look at the work you need to do today. I’m willing to bet you’ll find a job that you you were planning on “just getting done” so you can move onto the next job, and probably a job that you “just get done” every day, week, month or year.

It might be:-

  • Invoicing your clients
  • Updating a Router Firmware
  • Fixing a clients backup

Or any one of a dozen other jobs.

This time, however, we’re going to tackle this job so you can effectively re-use your work again next time - making it more efficient to complete time after time.

Here’s how to get started.

Documenting the process

  • Schedule 30 minutes in the diary to start that job. Not “I think I’ll give this 30 minutes”, but schedule 30 minutes in your diary in the same way you would for a business meeting.
  • Work, uninterrupted, for 30 minutes on this job. That means you ignore your telephone, e-mail, text, fax and especially Facebook.
  • As you work, document the steps you take.
  • At the end of 30 minutes, return to your normal hectic day-to-day stuff.
  • If the job isn’t finished, schedule 30 minutes the next day to do the same thing, and so on until the job is completed.

If the job is finished, congratulations - you’ve finished the job at hand and have your first operating process. Your Staff Handbook has begun!

The next time that particular job comes up, you can choose to do the work yourself - but instead of re-inventing the wheel you’ll have a defined process to work from, allowing you to get it done effectively and quickly.

Or, preferably, you can hand the job to someone else to do - knowing you’ve documented the steps it requires - and freeing up your time to do write another process.


It really is that simple.

Ever heard the phrase “A busy fool?”. We can fool ourselves into think we’re being productive by being busy. The two aren’t the same.

It’s not you “don’t have time” to do something. It’s that you’re not making time. It isn’t important enough to you.

Make it important enough.

Or carry on working “in” your business rather than “on” your business.

It’s your choice! 

About the Author

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.

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