MSP for solopreneurs and very small companies

Hi everyone :slight_smile:

First of all, I have to say that I’m happy I found LTS’s Youtube Channel and this forum ! Thanks a lot for all the content and discussions we have. :+1:

As Tom says on his website, I totally agree with this idea of “people focused” services. I would love to get people to view technology as it is : something that should brighten their day and help them achieve what they want smoothly, not something that gives them headaches every day of the week.

I don’t know how people see IT in the US and other countries in the world, but where I live (New Caledonia), most people have the “break and fix” mentality, which prevents them from enjoying their tools to the fullest.

After working for a company for 10 years (ISP Hotline + Helpdesk, onsite and remote support, among other things), I have been working solo for the past seven years. I am on the verge of getting a second person onboard but of course, revenues need to grow first ! :sweat_smile:

I am trying to get my actual customer base to switch to an MSP model, but most of them don’t see the point. Of course, they are not aware of all the work that has to be done in the shadows, and as long as their computers work, they feel like there’s no need to pay for anything. I still have to find the right way to explain how much it would benefit them all year long.

There’s also “competition” from huge companies that cut their prices dramatically in order to kill the smaller companies, and “tech savvys” (like the brother or cousin who knows a thing or two about computers).

There are a little less than 300 000 people in New Caledonia, that would make around 100 000 people in the workforce, and 80% of the companies are solopreneurs.

My goal in 2022 is to educate people on the benefits and well-being they would get by choosing to switch to an MSP model, even if that person in working alone with a single computer. I’d like to make them understand that their IT is actually an asset in their company and that if treated properly, it could help them save so much time and headaches, which would indeed make them feel better day in and day out.

Most people usually complain about their IT, saying that it never works as it should and that there’s always too much money to put into it, so the goal I’m trying to reach is not a walk in the park, but that’s a challenge worth taking :fist:

I’m trying to free up some time to communicate again on my company and services (I totally stopped writing articles and posting on social media 2 or 3 years ago, which is a mistake :warning:) and create content around all that, but I was wondering how IT people from much bigger countries would approach that subject ? :thinking:

Of course, the customer base here is pretty low, but I think no solopreneur has ever been approached for MSP services, above all with their well-being and success in mind. If I’m doing things right, that’s gonna be more than enough happy customers to serve ! :grin:

Has anyone ever been able to get solopreneurs and very small businesses to subscribe to their MSP services ? Is it something that could prove viable ? I feel like those kinds of services can help solopreneurs develop their projects in the best conditions available, and at least they would not feel completely lonely as they would have someone by their side for the technical side of things ! :handshake:

Thanks a lot for your insights :slight_smile:

It’s not an easy sell to get companies that don’t understand how tech can help their business, but if you keep looking you will find companies that do. Good luck and be patient.

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I feel like there is a self help book in your future (as in writing one after you do this). :grin:

Once people have your break/fix service for a price and everything is working I find it’s difficult to get them to change to what you see as a better model because they see it as wasting money if it costs more.

I would start the new MSP model of doing things and list out the total services provided under each model (MSP, and break/fix) and make sure new customers get onboard with the new model and eventually everything will get where you want it to be. If you plan on continuing the break/fix way of doing things along side your new MSP model of business then make sure you price it in a way that makes it worth your while. What I mean by this is don’t do any monitoring/managing whatsoever for the break/fix people, only fix broken stuff when they call and ask. If their business is down for days as a result then so be it, you sell a MSP service which can help prevent those things.

I find that if you do good work then word will get around and people you want to work with (and some you don’t) will want to do business with you. Otherwise don’t sweat it, the risk is on them, just remind them of this regularly so they cant say they didn’t know.

Of course, I say these things as a break/fix guy, haha. I have put a lot of thought into going the MSP model but that big barrier is that I wouldn’t hire me as an MSP if I was only one person. I actually do work from time to time helping clients with abandon hardware after a single person MSP runs into a staffing issue (person got hit by a drunk driver in the last case). Set your pricing to allow for growth, grow the actual business (both customers and employees), make sure you have a path forward with your business model, remember that nothing is set in stone.

Thank you for those kind words ! Patience is definitely key :slight_smile:

I will have to get back to building and maintaining relationships again in 2022, I’ve been caught up into too much “little work” lately !

I’m thinking of writing books about many subjects! Wait and see :rofl:

Thanks a lot for your advice, it’s very close to what I’ve been thinking of doing, starting next year.

When you talked about not providing monitoring services to customers who want to stay on the “break and fix” model, the services I offer are actually built that way. The monitoring service is an add-on to the regular maintenance. You can’t get it as a standalone.

That way, people who subscribe to the monthly maintenance service can subscribe to an upgrade that will provide monitoring AND automation, thanks to either N-Able or NinjaOne, depending on their subscription model and services (There’s no information on their websites about this, guess I’m going to have to get on a call with someone from their marketing team).

As I will not be able to totally get out of break and fix until MSP can bring a reasonable amount of revenue, I might also raise the prices to be profitable, as you said. That could also motivate some people to consider MSP. Some will, some won’t, others will probably find someone cheaper!

Hey, Julien. Going through similar pains.
I don’t think that I will move break/fix customers over to MSP. These clients will want to know how they benefit from this move which actually translates to “how will I pay you less”. At this point it is no longer in my interest, right? :wink:
What I can do is to publicize MSP offerings for new leads.

Sad but true…money usually gets in the way, even if they can afford those kinds of services without any problem!

One thing that I’m thinking about is being clear on the fact that MSP customers will always be on top of the demands list. Break and Fix customers would have to wait until I’m available. Some will understand, some will find someone else.

Its hard to teach new tricks to an old dog.
Claiming that you offer priority service to one client over another one might backfire, as you are already predicting.
I will not pretend to know the right way ahead, but I expect that you post your feedback so that we all benefit from your experience.
In my case I try to explain that MSP represents a more predictable model for their own finances, a lower hourly rate, a proactive monitoring and intervention with monthly reports.
As long as I have free hours, I will keep the break/fix customers. Once I am fully booked, either I hire someone or star getting rid of the worst customers to make room for new (potentially better) ones.

My vision seems to be aligned with yours :slight_smile: am currently in the process of revamping the services and prices, and our hourly rate will be lower for people who subscribe to the MSP Model. There are also a few other changes in order to bring more value, and I will definitely come back and share how things will turn out in the coming months :+1:

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One thing you might consider is contracting out the break/fix clients. A lot of folks are looking for gig work beyond their full time job and don;t forget those just starting their careers.