Eight Ways to Scale Your Managed Service Provider Business in 2022

The past two years have been unsettling for everyone, including MSP owners. The definition of normal was completely turned on its head for society, business, and beyond. It’s been a tough two years full of adjustment, and uncertainty. It’s safe to say most of us were happy to say goodbye to 2020 and now 2021 and to welcome 2022.

As MSPs embrace the new year, many are now asking an important question: How do I scale my business in 2022?

2020 saw a new business landscape; virtual work, shifts in technology needs, a huge rise in cybercrime. And this new business landscape isn’t going away for 2022, therefore MSP owners need to proactively respond to these challenges and changes to keep business running smoothly and to take advantage of new opportunities.

I see eight key ways to do this. Read more on how each of these areas can help MSPs scale in 2022.

Get Efficient

MSPs large and small all face the same challenge: How can I do more with less? 

Efficiency is key. To improve efficiency, a solid sense of your cash flow is the first step. Knowing where every pound goes will quickly reveal where there are inefficiencies, what’s unnecessary, and where more investment is needed. For example, do you know your exact cost per ticket? If not, why not? As an MSP owner you should know this as a minimum.

Technology can play a big role in doing more with less—for example, by automating routine tasks with good software, MSPs can free up technicians’ time for other (and possibly more important and/or lucrative) tasks.

If you’re looking to improve your MSP business’ efficiency in 2022, step back and assess your setup, asking questions like:

  • What are the priorities for the year? 
  • How many people do I have? 
  • How many more do I want to hire? 
  • What kinds of software tools and platforms do I have?
  • What software and platforms are on my wishlist? 
  • Where are the bottlenecks or pain points?

Can I solve those challenges with what I have, or do I need a new approach? 

There’s a difference between mission-critical investments and resourceful, strategic shifts in priorities. You may need to make some investments to scale (like switching to a new platform) while other problems can be fixed by re-allocating responsibilities (such as having employees split a task into areas that align with their expertise). That said, everyone is trying to squeeze productivity out of every resource, and it’s important to be mindful of this and not sacrifice culture (more on that below) for the sake of productivity.

Ensure you have robust processes

Create effective processes that have helped you build the business to this point. It’s essential to refine your current sales, marketing, administrative and other procedures, as it’s important to have a concrete foundation before you can understand how to scale your MSP business.

At this point, since you’re already managing clients, it’s important to take inventory of the processes that work and don’t work with your current clients. This is especially important as it will allow you to still focus on servicing your existing clients effectively while taking on more.

Create an Accessible Knowledge Resource

Once you’ve nailed down your processes, and written them out step by step, it’s essential to make these available to all your employees- current and future. While you might feel like many of the processes you document are common sense, you’d be surprised how much frustration can be caused by new or existing employees not understanding or following even the most basic protocol, especially when it comes to dealing with clients.

There are many ways to share this information, whether it’s through a shared server or a training manual. All that matters is that the information is concise and accessible and that there is always someone around to help anyone who doesn’t understand what they are doing.

Set Specific and Measurable Goals

As an MSP owner have you ever asked yourself the question “what do I want to achieve?” For example, are you looking to make a certain amount of turnover every year or increase your customer base for greater impact and brand equity in the marketplace? Or maybe create a legacy for your children?

Whatever your goals are, it’s important to always have these in mind, especially before you start to expand your existing services.

This will also help you to understand what you are looking for when hiring new staff.

Cultivate the Right Customers

A huge part of scaling is working with the right customers. No two MSPs are the same, and the ideal customer will vary and will often depend on your goals for growth, in-house vs. external skill sets, and the offerings you currently have vs. those you plan to add. 

Some MSPs may want to specialise in a niche, such as accountants, law firms, retail, or hospitality. Other MSPs may want to diversify, bringing on new verticals—expanding their transferable skills, for example, from servicing doctor and dentist offices to law practices, two areas that require high security for sensitive information. Or perhaps you define vertical opportunities not by industry, but by service speciality.

The market conditions in 2022 will impact the types of clients you target. For example, hospitality businesses such as restaurants and hotels may not need expanded MSP services, whereas doctor’s offices may be facing a huge uptick in virtual patient visits, necessitating new solutions and support.

Some key questions to consider may include:

  • Do I already service this type of business?
  • If not, what skills/considerations are specific to their vertical? Do I have that expertise in-house?
  • How well is their industry doing right now? 
  • Are they facing new IT or security challenges I already support, or that I can support with new offerings?
  • How far along their IT journey are they?
  • How much business do I already service, and how many more hours can my team accommodate?
  • Is it better for me to have a few, larger clients or multiple, smaller clients?

 

By deciding what kinds of clients you want and then carefully cultivating a customer base that meets those criteria, you will set your MSP business up for strategic growth in 2022.

Explore New Offerings 

To scale in 2022, MSPs will need to think about what they can offer to both existing and new customers. Diversification in offerings can be a great way to scale without even needing to bring on new customers. 

There are likely service offerings that your MSP business is handling well—your bread and butter. Maybe it’s device management or software patching. But the last year redefined priorities for many industries, and both existing and new customers are likely facing new challenges and fears. 

These challenges may be opportunities for your MSP to provide additional support.

Consider the explosion of remote work in 2020 & 2021. This new workflow has changed many elements of business, such as:

  • Expanded security perimeter as more people work from home
  • Varying internet speeds/quality, depending on employees’ home setups
  • Devices being used for both work and personal purposes
  • Increase in virtual software, such as video conferencing, at businesses that may traditionally rely on in-person business dynamics
  • Shift from on-premise servers and local software to the cloud
  • Need for VPNs or other security services to protect WFH employees
  • Less opportunity to service or replace hardware, such as corporate laptops and mobile phones

 

Or take, for example, cybersecurity. Once seen as a problem only for large businesses, small to midsize enterprises (SMEs) are very much at risk for cyberattacks.  In the last year alone, phishing and social engineering scams have gone up by an astounding 400%.

Fortunately, a recent report found that 86% of SME owners said cybersecurity was one of their top five priorities, and 73% planned to invest more in cybersecurity over the next 12 months. That same report found that 91% of SMEs would consider working with a new IT provider for the “right” cybersecurity offerings.

Many MSPs who didn’t start out with security offerings or who don’t have a deep background in the field may feel overwhelmed trying to decide what to offer for security solutions. But that’s no reason not to dive in. For SMEs concerned about cyberattacks and other security threats, MSPs who expand their expertise and offerings to include cybersecurity support stand to grow their businesses. That goes for both existing and new customers. 

Invest in Training & Education

Investing in training and education for your staff will help you expand to new offerings and win the right customers by demonstrating expertise. Many new areas for MSPs require new skill sets, vocabulary, and more. Some new offerings may require your technicians to pass certifications, too. Other certifications may not be an absolute requirement but can help build customers’ confidence that your team has the expertise to support them.

Remember: Training and education isn’t just for engineers and technicians. MSP owners can often benefit from education, too. Learning about new areas, like cybersecurity, can be an invaluable way for MSP owners to lead by example and identify new business opportunities.

Spending time and resources on training, education, and certification is a great way to improve the skillsets of your team, grow customer relationships, and continue to provide quality customer service.

Create a Great Working Culture

Last but not least, it’s important to make your MSP a great place to work if you want to scale through hiring. Happy employees do better work, and new talent looks for not only great benefits but also a thriving culture. These past two years have been difficult for many people; financial hardships, family challenges, health fears. And, on top of that, many companies have lost the sense of community that comes from running into each other in the kitchen and hallways.

In 2022, MSPs will need to be deliberate and thoughtful about their internal cultures. It’s a good time to get creative. For example, since there aren’t any more team-building lunches, could you organize a weekly Zoom coffee chat and send everyone gift cards to their local cafe?

At the end of the day, an MSP is really the people who work there. So by making sure your team feels fulfilled and that your culture remains strong, you will have a healthier, happier business in 2022.

2022: A Year of Opportunity to Grow Your MSP Business

We’re so ready for 2022. For the past two years, many MSP owners have done some soul-searching and had the opportunity to re-prioritise their business goals and look at their operational maturity level. Now that we’re starting with a fresh new year, MSPs can put their plans into action. By having a clear vision, prioritising, cultivating the right customer base, offering new services, investing in training and education, and creating great cultures, MSPs can scale their businesses to succeed in 2022.

If any of the issues raised in this post have resonated with you and you would like to chat further about ways to grow your MSP business, drop me a line at Contact – Scalable MSP.