By Miguel Lopez
Last December we talked about how important it is for MSPs to take a step back from the day-to-day servicing of clients and think about their big picture strategy for the year ahead. We recommended MSPs think beyond doing the same things they’ve been doing for years, and instead make plans that – if well executed – will take the business to the next level.
With 2018 a little more than half over, it’s time to assess how that’s been going and course correct if need be. With many employees taking vacation over the summer holidays (in the Northern Hemisphere), use this as an opportunity to get organized and see projects through to completion while employee attendance is a bit lighter than usual.
If the window on summer holidays has closed, consider taking some time to think ahead to year end, and plan for projects to be done between Christmas and New Years.
Regardless, now is the time to make sure another year doesn’t go by without you making the strategic investments in your company that will set the stage for future success. And, if you already know you didn’t make much headway, don’t worry; there’s still plenty of time to make things happen.
What you were supposed to be doing
We provided you with six key questions MSPs should be asking themselves. While those questions were framed around the start of a new calendar year, there’s really never a bad time to be asking them. So, if you never got around to it, there’s no reason to wait until NEXT December to do it.
But what’s more important than self-reflection is the action you’re taking based on that exercise. Let’s take a look at those questions and see where you’re at … and what you can do about it:
First was an evaluation of what’s been working well and what isn’t. Hopefully by now you’ve identified something specific that was blocking business, causing headaches or lowering your productivity, but the real question to be asking yourself now is “What have you done about it?”
Identifying the problem is only the start of the process, so now it’s time to see if you’ve really been able to adjust or correct things. Likewise, if you identified something that was working well, have you been able to apply it to other aspects of your business?
Next was understanding what differentiates your MSP in the market. With this knowledge in hand, you can take several actions, including fully integrating those differences into your sales and marketing activities and materials, as well as narrowing your focus on potential customers that will really value that level of specialization and expertise.
Your to-do list also included evaluating how the market was changing and where it was going. Were your predictions accurate so far or have things taken an unexpected left turn? If things haven’t gone as planned, now is the time to react to the new reality instead of waiting an entire year to right the ship accordingly.
We also recommended you set goals for the next year, plot your path to success and resource them appropriately. This halfway point is a great time to check in and see how you’re doing in reaching them. If you’re not progressing as expected, it’s another opportunity to reflect on what could be adjusted to try and still reach them. If things are going well, you can proceed confidently and continue investing the time, resources and energy to achieve them.
Finally, anticipating customer requests, needs and demands while planning on how to successfully and competitively meet them was identified as an important task for the coming year. Have your predictions come true or are customers asking for totally different things? Have you been able to meet demand efficiently or are you constantly scrambling to react and deliver? Do you have the right partners in place or is there still room to improve your extended delivery team?
What else to include in your mid-year check-in
With six or seven months under your belt, now is a great time to look at your numbers. Is your revenue where you expected and tracking appropriately to meet your annual goals? Are there unexpected expenses that are eating into your margins and cashflow?
If you’re not where you want to be, it may be time to hold off on some purchases or hiring. Or maybe you need to give your sales efforts a kick in the pants to recoup some missing revenue. If you’re doing better than expected, now might be the time to make some strategic investment, or squirrel some cash away for a rainy day.
It’s also a great opportunity to examine your sales pipeline – do you have enough prospects in the pipeline, and are renewals coming in as expected? If the future doesn’t look as rosy as you’d like, you can look back at the questions above and see what needs to be changed in your go-to-market approach to bring in more potential customers.
Finally, is your technology stack and skillset still where it needs to be or have competitive forces and new vendor solutions created a gap in your offering that might jeopardize potential deals? If you feel like you’re lacking, use the remaining time you have to get your offering up to the level you need to succeed in 2019 and beyond while ensuring that your staff is getting the training and education required to service current and future client needs.
Remember, good businesses keep doing what they’ve been doing, but great businesses are constantly looking for opportunities to adjust and get better. Don’t settle for good and keep looking inward for opportunities to improve.