Time to learn a bit more about me, and why in the world I started an MSP. More importantly, why am I offering to tell a potential competitor how to do it?
Like most of us, we get good at doing something and want to take it to the next level. This is not unlike my story at all.
I started out doing software packaging for a computer-aided design company. They made software to design your own garden, interiors and even railroads. The later versions (in 1994) even had some 3D views to drive or fly through the designs you’d constructed. One day there was a support guy out sick. I took my very first support call from a guy in Australia. We took way too long to solve the issue but he was happy.
I put some college hours behind me and became a technician for a computer rental company. I was building custom PC orders for customers. This job grew over a few years into me becoming an assistant manager at a computer rental store in a major US city. Shortly thereafter, the first dot com bust occurred. Hardware became very inexpensive, no more rentals, so I had to move on.
Luckily, I landed quickly at a major company doing internal server and network support. This stage of my career took me to a utopia of delivering computer support for internal corporate users. We’d have all the information needed to replace a computer in less than 30 minutes and have it couriered to staff.
Great money and great benefits led me to move up the chain. I became the sole network administrator and assistant to the manager for our internal support team serving 1500 users. Once again, another dot com bust pushed me to a new area.
This next career move was the most formative one. I became the IT Director for a medium sized architectural design firm of about 40 designers. They’d never had internal IT staff before. After years of struggling with contracted break-fix IT support they decided to make the first hire. After an incredibly rough interview of 6 people around the table, I landed the position. On day one my supervisor sat me down at my new desk and said “I have no idea what you do so good luck.”
In the coming whirlwind of days and weeks I’d learned that successive contractors had changed the environment in many ways, but never documented anything. There was no standard of service, no best practices being followed, and no follow ups on issues. It seemed the firm’s management had become so frustrated by the IT options they had, it was more trouble to call for help than to just unplug the server, plug it back in and hope it all started back up again.
Until this point I’d never worked for contracted support company, an MSP, or any kind of break fix career. I’d only worked internally, where there were always consequences for bad work. Here was a whole new world. It seemed the same customer service problems you’d have at the grocery store were alive and well with technicians asking $200/hour to cripple your infrastructure.
I felt that this was an opportunity. My (at the time 20 years) IT support and systems building experience (I was a SharePoint developer as well) to help start my own business. I could actually deliver on not just a service promise but actually have the knowledge and skill to fix things the first time.
Started out my business in a hybrid contract and hourly model. I didn’t hear about the Managed Services Provider model until 2 years after I’d started. Clients added quickly – 30% growth in sales, quarter over quarter for the first 2 years. I had to hire someone nearly 18 months sooner than I expected to. I had to replace myself nearly 3 years before I’d planned to. The business was truly a success, meeting my goals ahead of time in nearly every way.
Why are we here now? I’m ready for something new. My intent with my business was to build something that could work without me for the most part. I retain some responsibility still but the vast majority is now in the capable hands of a great team of managers and technicians.
I’ve always been someone who enjoys teaching, and in the 10 years of this business I’ve had, I participate on a lot of forums, chat rooms, and share stories with other business owners. I’ve heard some doozies, as I have plenty to tell as well. If I had the opportunity to learn from someone what worked for them, what didn’t, and what things I haven’t even imagined, I’d take that. I’d even pay a bit for it.
Regardless of if you want to pay or not, my goal is to prepare a collection of resources like stories, guides, tactics, and processes which you will get some benefit from. This is a growing project so you’ll see plenty of information added regularly. I hope you’ll subscribe in the ways you can in order to stay up to date on what’s happening. Please browse our menus thoroughly to find that gem you need to advance your goals. I’d love to help you achieve your dreams as a business owner.