Keys To Success With Managed Service Providers
CJ16. This episode features Karl Palachuk, founder and CEO of Small Biz Thoughts. Karl’s mission is to train IT consultants and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to be better at the business side of their business. He accomplishes this by writing, speaking, blogging, podcasting, coaching, and consulting. And that’s just his day job.
We talk about the MSP community, the impact of exponential innovation, and his own secrets to massive productivity. If you want to know more about MSPs, how to find them, and how to make them successful, this episode is for you.
- There is whole new breed of 20-somethings setting up IT consulting companies, basically break-fix shops, who know nothing about the MSP world. Karl is bringing them into the fold. The don’t know who the distributors or vendors are, or what they should be selling.
- If you’re an MSP, pick a niche vertical and focus on finding technologies to serve that market. It will be a smaller market than if you were a generalist, but you can own that market and be the one that everyone turns to for help.
- ChannelPro, ASCII, and TechFest events are good places for vendors to meet IT consultants and managed service providers. Be sure to send your best presenters and focus on the partner, not your products.
- The secret to high productivity is prioritizing absolutely everything and being brutal about things that aren’t a priority. Only do one thing at a time.
- Choose the single most important thing you need to do – and only do that. Then choose the next single most important thing you need to do, and only do that.
[3:30] A lot of people who were in the industry 10 years ago have either retired or gone out of business in the recession or have just decided to leave all together for whatever reason. Now we have a new influx of 20-somethings just starting their first business. They consider themselves IT consultants and have no idea what the term MSP even means. And they’re asking the same questions that break-fix consultants asked 20 years ago.
[7:00] We are in an era of exponential growth in technology, it’s no longer linear. The innovation growth rate in not just computers, but in many industries, is doubling every year. This makes the statement “if we’re at 1%, we’re almost there” possible, and it’s creating new opportunities everywhere.
[12:00] Whatever technology is going to change the world in 2020 is already here. So it’s not that difficult to anticipate the future (from the book The Anticipatory Organization by Daniel Burrus).
[14:00] While some agents are starting to look more like MSPs and some VARs are becoming MSPs, there will always be break-fix consultants.
Keys To Success
[16:00] Most MSPs have the potential to add more advanced technologies. The most successful ones pick a niche vertical to focus on, adopt more technology, and create services that address that niche. It’s a smaller market, but they can own that market.
[20:50] The challenge for his larger MSP clients, $5M to $10M in revenue, is freeing themselves from the operating procedures and culture that got them there and adopting new ways to get to the next level. Doubling from $10M to $20M is a lot different than getting from $5M to $10M. For example, it takes a really good sales manager. But too much focus on sales and not enough on services can hurt you.
[25:00] Once IT owners reach the limit of what they can sell, they should get outside help to hire a sales person and a sales manager.
[27:45] The place for IT vendors and IT professionals (partners) to meet is on online communities and at conferences. Karl thinks the ChannelPro, ASCII, and TechFest events are good places for vendors to meet IT consultants and managed service providers. If you’re a vendor, make sure you send great presenters to talk about what is in it for the partner, not the speeds and feeds of your product. And don’t forget to follow up when you get back to the office.
[33:30] When you go to events to recruit partners, if you lead with a freebie at a show that’s not connected to what is going to help the partner, you have a disconnect. If you focus on getting warm bodies, rather than on performers who are going to embrace your technology, you have a disconnect.
[33:30] Karl offers 10 5-week classes per year for a fee, plus mini-classes offered free to his MSP community. And he does live training on-site and takes on one or two coaching clients per year.
[39:00] Karl is just finishing his 19th book, this one on Cloud Services. He takes the processes and procedures that have worked for him and shares them to help others.
Relax, Focus, Succeed
[43:00] Karl’s side passion is work-life balance. He wrote a book and has a blog called Relax, Focus, Succeed. Through his own personal trauma, he learned that he could be more productive while working less. His secret to high productivity is prioritizing absolutely everything and being brutal about things that aren’t a priority. To Karl, a phone call is an interruption and doesn’t even put his phone number on his business card.
[45:50] Choose the single most important thing you need to do. And only do that. Then choose the next single most important thing you need to do, and only do that. Only do one thing at a time. And it makes everyone in the company far more effective. Which means that there’s some crap that’s just never going to get done.