Ahhh … another new year. Chances are, you probably entered it with plans of making a few changes for the better. Well where are you now? Working toward resolutions? Struggling to define them? Whatever the case, if your organization is going to be like any successful enterprise, you’re looking at moments like this as an opportunity to take business to another level.
The industry outlook is beyond bright, but no need to wait for the distant future. Make 2016 the best year yet for your MSP outfit by adopting a set of bulletproof resolutions that won’t lead you astray.
1. Optimize the IT Budget
It looks like companies of all sizes are gearing up to dump even more money into IT this year. A Spiceworks survey found that businesses are looking to invest the most in hardware and software, while eying hosted solutions as possible investments for the future. From staff salaries and systems upgrades to training and fixed subscription fees, IT represents one of the more complex areas of the corporate budget. With your IT spend under control, you’ll know what you can realistically invest and accomplish moving forward through the rest of the year.
2. Make Documentation a Priority
I recently spoke about the role thorough documentation plays in bringing new clients onboard. I’d like to expand on that by simply recommending it as a practice you resolve to do on a regular basis. From beginning to end, document every possible aspect on each project that comes through the pipeline. This resolution becomes more manageable when using a Wiki or similar platform that allows for easy content publishing, organization, and updates. Never underestimate the importance a dedicated effort to documentation can play in handling client accounts and internal projects alike.
3. Step Up Your Marketing
You don’t have to be good at marketing to make it in your area of specialty. Just ask all the MSPs who barely do enough to get by or just suck at it altogether. Sure, you’ve managed to stay afloat, but if you want to grow and ever nab a real competitive edge, you need to at least develop serviceable marketing skills. Be it email, social media, podcasting or a mix of the three, stake a claim somewhere and start making some noise. When word of mouth traffic is slow, a good marketing strategy will bring new clients to the door. One way or another.
4. Do Social Media Right
Are you a bona fide social media rock star? If not, then you can probably tighten up your game in this space. I don’t need any background details on your firm to know that improvements can be made by simply making better use of your network. You hooked up with hundreds of strangers across LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Go through your list and identify the movers and shakers who are generating the biggest buzz these days. Retweet a tweet. Re-introduce yourself. Start a conversation. Reconnect with your connections and in no time, you’ll have a better feel for what’s hot and where your focus needs to be.
5. Become “Groupies”
One reason I love writing for StorageCraft is because these topics often intertwine with my life and solo business endeavors. We’ve recently touched on groups at a time when I’m pretty much using them on a daily basis to interact with my audience. Groups are great business tools that can help us build our brands, show off our expertise, and build relationships in an environment that is designed to be both intimate and engaging. Join one and network with like-minded professionals. Create one and build a community around your brand. Groups are versatile like that!
6. Tighten Up Security
2015 was yet another reminder that no one is safe. Leisure destinations (Ashley Madison), financial authorities (Experian), and even government powerhouses (IRS) were among the latest in a long list of data breach victims. You’ve got to keep investing in security technologies, but as the first line of defense, your staff must be prepared to handle threats head on. Changing passwords every couple of months, carefully managing their access to IT systems, and protecting sensitive data are examples of how employees can proactively thwart hackers around the clock. Now is a good time to revisit your security training program and make sure it’s customized for a new year of threats.
7. Get More Done
How much time do MSPs waste every week? Every day? I don’t even wanna know. Higher productivity is always something to shoot for, and it can be achieved when you start working more efficiently. Maybe it’s as simple sharing files with clients via DropBox or SkyDrive instead of struggling to attach them to an email. Or as complex as finally convincing the entire team to drop Office in favor of Google Docs. Firmly resolving to do a few small things can make a huge difference in the production department when you stick to your guns.
8. Get With the Times … Again
We’ve seen more than our fair share of fancy schmancy tech come through here in the last few years. Think about it. Cloud computing. Virtualization. Big data. Some have been all out game changers that will probably alter the way we look at IT forever. New trends come sweeping through at breakneck speeds, and you never know which of them are duds in disguise. Finding a good fit isn’t always easy, but remember that the right trend is always the one that will either enhance your people, processes, or the business itself.
9. Simplify Your Infrastructure
Infrastructure management is a challenge for organizations at every stage in every arena. You know the struggle is real when a massive system like the PlayStation Network experiences outages on a semi-regular basis. Getting a handle on your IT starts with understanding when you’ve got too much on your plate. Crafty managed service providers are shedding the added stress and gaining a competitive advantage by simply outsourcing the most hectic elements of their infrastructure to more capable hands. You’re never too big to have a handful of technology partners you can count on for outside support.
Some strategies are hit or miss. I like to consider these surefire schemes you can’t go wrong with. Put in the effort, and these resolutions will ensure that 2016 is unprecedented awesomeness for your MSP business!