In this first part of a two-part series, we present the first five items, which should all be considered major prerequisites to starting an managed service provider (MSP) business.
If you can’t tick these five things off, it’s fair to say you don’t have a true recipe for success:
Running an MSP business successfully requires skills that go far beyond the purely technical. Your business will need marketing, customer service and finance expertise just for starters, so if you don’t already have these skills you must develop them, or bring in people to complement the skills you do have.
While IT businesses can get going with minimal start-up costs, a fair chunk of initial capital is necessary for equipment, software, marketing materials and day-to-day running costs. You will also need to pay staff from day one, even if you haven’t yet begun to bring in revenue.
You can’t start an MSP business just because you and your team “know about computers.” You need to have real-world experience to bring to the table. As with skills, this requirement isn’t purely about technical experience (though this part is, of course, essential). You must also understand how MSPs integrate with the businesses they serve and handle the client/provider relationship.
Staff from internal IT departments who have previously managed the interface between an MSP and the business may have this experience, as well as those who have worked in MSPs before.
The credibility of a newly formed company is enhanced when it can show some staff accreditations. Hopefully you or some of your team have some formal certifications, such as Microsoft, ITIL or Prince, to show to potential customers.
If you don’t, it may be time to head for the training center and book some exams. Even if you’re a confident, old-school techie who thinks that exams are for the newbies, the qualifications they bring can be the thing that gives confidence to an uncertain prospect. At some point, customers will want you to show your credentials, so make sure some of your team have some to present.
Staffing your MSP is likely to be your biggest expense. Given that on top of wages you’ll be paying for staff benefits and social security, you mustn’t make mistakes with your team.
People doesn’t only mean your internal team either – it also means people you will hire to deliver professional services, such as lawyers and accountants, and the people you will outsource tasks to. Take time to get the right people around you and trust your instincts. Mistakes will be costly and time-consuming.
Once you have a confident tick next to these five items, you can move on with the setup of your MSP and the next five steps, which follow in part 2 of this article.