Six MSP Business Planning Questions for 2018

Author: Kaseya’s Jim Lippie
Author: Kaseya's Jim Lippie

Mid-December brings with it thoughts of holiday festivities, time with friends and family, and if you’re lucky a little bit of downtime to ponder the year ahead. For business owners, it’s also a time to take stock and define goals and resource requirements for the coming year as budget season culminates.

Unfortunately, many MSPs fall short when it comes to creating meaningful annual budgets and participating in effective strategic planning sessions to grow their business. While most MSPs have aspirational numbers around sales and market share, they rarely do more than pin them to the wall and proclaim grand growth percentages for the coming year. Strategic planning to achieve those numbers rarely follows.

Thus, instead of taking the time to study their business, they enter the new year doing exactly what they did the prior year and hoping it will be enough to drive demand to enable them to reach their arbitrary growth goals.

That’s not the path to a mature and scalable business.

Breaking With Tradition

Why do MSPS follow this pattern year after year? It’s no mystery to anyone in the field: Most MSP owners  are busy, and they spend the lion’s share of their time working in their businesses, not on them. (If you’re unsure about the difference, Michael Gerber’s book, “The E Myth,” offers a concise explanation.)

In the dynamic and competitive marketplace in which MSPs now find themselves, this approach is feeble at best and contraindicative to growth at worst.

Sure, some service providers diligently practice strategic planning, but the majority of MSPs do not. If you’re among the many that don’t, now is the time to be smart and start planning.

Fortunately, it’s not too late to change your ways and turn the ship around, and this is an ideal time of year to do so. First, take stock of where your business stands and what your drivers are. Without an awareness of where you are, you cannot develop a roadmap to where you want to go.

Six Questions MSPs Must Ask

You also can’t go it alone. Bring in your management team. Ideally, get offsite, away from the distractions of daily operations, and ask yourselves the following questions:

  1. What worked well for us last year? What didn’t?
  2. What differentiates us in the market?
  3. How is the market changing, and where is it going?
  4. What are our goals for next year?
  5. How will we get there? Do we have the resources we need to get there?
  6. What are/will our clients be asking for? How can we deliver in a competitive way? Do we have the right partners or vendors to help us achieve our goals?

At the same time, you must also pay attention to market trends and direction. Thus, if your 2018 strategic plan doesn’t factor in for developing how to properly account for how you’re going to drive monthly recurring revenue growth and maximizing operational efficiencies, it’s probably not a complete plan.

Addressing these questions goes a long way toward achieving a solid, strategic plan that will pay off generously in dividends. Growing a business and executing against a good plan is hard enough, but growing a sustainable and scalable business without a plan is near impossible.

Jim Lippie is general manager, cloud computing at Kaseya. Read more Kaseya blogs here.