ORLANDO – Pains are typically associated with growing, and Jim Hunton said he experienced his share in the early days of building his managed services business.
“My presentation is on a lot of the things I didn’t do right,” Hunton, the founder and owner of Arizona-based Onsite Technical Services, said at the start of his MAX 2014 U.S. Customer Conference session, which offered advice for growing from a one-person shop.
“A lot of businesses fail in the first five years,” he added at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. “A lot of us are good techs; that’s what inspires us to start our own business. But it requires more knowledge to help grow beyond yourself. It can be difficult if not done in a controlled, thought-process manner.”
Self-analysis, Hunton said, is priceless. He encourages managed service providers (MSPs) to ask and answer three key questions that can help determine whether they are truly ready to grow:
If you are comfortable with your answers to those initial questions, Hunton said it’s important to apply these seemingly obvious but perhaps overlooked pointers:
Manage your time – Prioritize the aspects of your job and do away with tasks that are not part of your core business.
Time, as the adage goes, is money.
Organize – Use solutions that will give you clear visibility into your business operations. Hunton said he created a SharePoint site in 2007 and documented everything.
“It took some time,” he said. “Before that, we were really struggling. I had all this information in my brain. And I remembered everything. But when you have another employee, their effectiveness is really reduced by the amount of information you have that they don’t.”
Talk, talk, talk – Communication is essential.
Measure – Do you know how many hours are billed to jobs versus time spent on administrative duties? Hunton said relying on metrics that work for your business – and keep you up-to-date on its health – is critical. Otherwise, it can be tough to know if you’re hitting your numbers.
Know yourself – Understand your strengths as well as your weaknesses.
Test and evaluate – As you identify potential candidates, conduct background and credit checks. Hunton, who is looking to hire a fifth full-time tech, said he conducts “DISC” tests that measure the behavioral traits for dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness.
Bottom line: Do your due diligence.
Network – The most valuable insight and advice often comes from MSPs whose experiences are similar.
Last but certainly not least, determine the type of tech you need. Hiring a low-level candidate with limited experience is unlikely to save you money. You’ll pay in the time that’s required to teach, which takes you away from revenue-generating jobs.
“It takes quite a bit of time to understand where they’re at,” Hunton said.