Falling Out of Love with Your MSP Business

Man walking into open door on beach, rear view

Why did you start your MSP? What was it that made you fall in love with the idea of owning and building your own business? The freedom to make the decisions? The pure joy associated with creating something that is uniquely yours? The bags of cash you imagined at the end of the rainbow? Something else? 

One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is that the reasons we do so are our own. They are varied and beautiful, sometimes painfully public, and just as often intensely private, but for most entrepreneurs the one thing they have in common is that they drive us to be the best we can be, and early in the journey, that is enough.

Over time though, as with most things, even owning a business loses some of its luster. The successes become more normal, the problems become more predictable, and the everyday joy of being your own boss becomes commonplace. All that means is just that it's time to take a vacation and reset yourself. It may not seem like much, but this first trip away from the business you have grown to love is going to likely set the stage for success or failure over the rest of your entrepreneurial career.

Your First Vacation Sets The Stage for Success or Failure

Believe it. Here's why:

Many small business owners become a little more than a little addicted to being the center of the known universe within that business. At first, you are just making the decisions you need to make in order to keep the lights on. Then, as things move forward and you hire more people, they all depend on you to be not only a source of inspiration, but also a source of the "tribal knowledge" that is never very well documented at this stage of growth. Being needed is a wonderful feeling sometimes, but here's the thing; if you want to ever have a life beyond your business, you need to focus every effort on making sure you aren't needed anymore. Wanted, yes. Needed, never again.

I have a pretty interesting job. Much of it is centered around helping early-stage entrepreneurs in the SaaS space move from being an entrepreneur to being a business operator, and that is a difficult journey for many, even most entrepreneurs. Many end up selling their business and starting another one because they are more comfortable that way. Over the last ten years I have learned one fundamental truth. Entrepreneurs build businesses; operators build people.

Entrepreneurs vs. Operators

Operators focus on professional development. They focus on culture. They understand the power of momentum and once they get it they do everything in their power to keep it and accelerate it. They don't work in the business - their entire focus is working on the business. When they go on vacation, their entire focus is restoring themselves for the next strategic push, and they know that the trains are going to run on time without them being there, because they haven't been paying attention to making the trains run on time in quite a while.

So here is my challenge to every entrepreneur who is heading out on that first vacation or who hasn't enjoyed a vacation because they were too worried about the trains. When you return from this vacation, figure out what you need to do to become an operator of your business. Let other people in the business become indispensable. Figure out how to create a successful business and stay strategic. The results will be more success, confident employees who own their jobs everyday, and much, much better vacations.

Ted Roller, President and CEO of GetChanneled
Ted Roller has spent his entire adult life working in the channel, first is an MSP and then as a channel chief for Intronis, LogMeIn, Mailprotector, ConnectBooster, and others. Currently, Ted is President and CEO of GetChanneled, a virtual channel chief organization that helps early-stage SaaS companies build their go to market strategy and channel programs. He has been recognized as Young Man of the Year in Troy, Ohio, his MSP was recognized as one of the “Fast 50” growing companies in the Dayton Business Journal, and he has been recognized for his work with channel organizations many times over.
Ted lives in Raleigh, NC, but can generally be found at channel events or scuba diving in the Keys.