Bang on tips for running a successful IT service business


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Leading a massive services organization or moonlighting and considering the jump to full time? Let's have a frank discussion about what it takes to run a growing services business. Check out these tips given out at SpiceWorld London from industry experts and your peers around the globe on what to consider before getting started, what to expect from clients (and what they expect from you!), and how to stand out from the masses. We'll take the discussion beyond tech and give you the lowdown on how to grow your business, big or small.

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Bang on tips for running a successful IT service business

  1. 1. Bang  on  Tips  for  Running  a  Successful  IT   Service  Business   Caroline Tipton Technical Marketing, Spiceworks
  2. 2. The  Plan   •  Get  to  know  each  other   •  Knowing  what  you  do  best   •  Trimming  the  customer  fat   •  Rela@onships  101   •  S@cky  situa@ons   •  Growing  your  business  
  3. 3. GeCng  to  know  each  other  
  4. 4. How  many  here  are…   •  Just  thinking  of  becoming  and   MSP?   •  Moonligh@ng  before  you  pull   the  trigger?   •  Work  full  @me  as  an  MSP?  
  5. 5. How  large  is  your  company?   •  Flying  solo!   •  Handful  of  people.   •  We  are  an  army!  
  6. 6. What  is  your  biggest  challenge?   •  There  are  some  technical  areas  I  need  to  brush   up  on.   •  Accoun@ng  makes  my  head  hurt.   •  Marke@ng  myself.   •  Customer  rela@onships  are  harder  than  marriage.   •  Other…  
  7. 7. Coffee  (or  Tea)  Talk  Time!  
  8. 8. Crea@ng  a  Clear  PorSolio     •  Your  @me  to  shine!   •  Show  off  your   – Exper@se   – Ability  to  handle   different  tech   – Scope  and  @ming  of   large  projects  
  9. 9. – Do  you  document  this  somewhere?   – How  do  you  stay  on  top  of  new  tech  and  trends?  
  10. 10. Trimming  the  Customer  Fat    
  11. 11. Rate  Your  Clients   “A”  Clients:   “B”  Clients:   “C”  Clients:   Pay  On  Time  –  or   ahead  of  @me   May  Experience  Some   Payment  Issues   Slow  Pay   Have  IT  Budgets   Have  Limited  Budgets   No  Budget   Allow  Direct  Access   to  Decision  Makers   May  Not  Allow  Direct   Access  To  Decision  Makers   Does  it   maer?  
  12. 12. Your  worst  clients   §  Figure  out  who’s  2-­‐3x%  of  your  @me  vs.  %  of  your   revenues   §  Who  falls  into  that  C  bucket?     §  Professionally  let  them  know  this  isn’t  working  out   §  Reform  or  refer   §  Outcome  -­‐>  reform  1/3-­‐1/2  and  refer  the  rest   §  Your  work  life  /  efficiency  will  improve   §  Frees  you  up  to  win  addi7onal  clients  properly   structured  
  13. 13. •  Do  others  find  it  hard  to  let  go  of  the  C  class  of  your   business?  Why  is  that?   •  Any  @ps  for  breaking  up  with  these  clients?  
  14. 14. Building  Rela@onships  Keys to Building Successful and Lasting Relationships TIMEPEOPLE TRUST A CRUCIAL REALIZATION
  15. 15. Be proactive Anticipate and prevent problems rather than reacting to them Make their problem your success Become a friend/trusted advisor Genuinely have the client’s best interest at heart Turn your clients’ poor situation into a positive result for both sides What You Should Do
  16. 16. Oversell yourself You aren’t the “be all, end all” Acquire new clients without maintaining existing ones Remember your reputation is on the line Forget the human factor Never forget that people/businesses require: •  Availability •  Accountability •  Responsibility •  Reliability Give your business a distinct identity What You Should Not Do
  17. 17. •  What  do  you  think  are  the  biggest  drivers  to   helping  build  customer  rela@onships?   •  How  do  you  balance  new  versus  exis@ng   users?  
  18. 18. Client  Management   Compile  a  package  to  present  to  poten@al  or   new  clients.     §  Include  a  Services  Agreement,  a  Non-­‐Disclosure  Agreement,  any   policies  that  will  help  the  rela@onship  run  more  smoothly     §  Think  about  it  from  the  perspec@ve  of  what  will  minimize   misunderstandings  with  clients     §  Minimize  surprises!       If you don’t manage them, who will?
  19. 19. Service  Agreement  “must  haves”   §  Scope  (what  are  you  providing  –  as  specific  as  possible  /  what’s  not  “in”)   §  Std.  of  service  (2hr  turn/  4  hr/  24  hr/  business  hrs?)   §  Pricing   §  Client  “must  provides”   §  Payment  terms  (deposit?/  net  10-­‐15-­‐30?)   §  Contact  details   §  Limita@on  of  liability   §  Who  owns  the  IP  (reusable  code?)   §  Wrien  executed  agmt.  between  par@es  
  20. 20. •  Is  there  any  other  wrien  documents  you  find   crucial?   •  Is  there  anything  not  wrien  in  the  “must   haves”  that  you  have  found  to  be  crucial?  
  21. 21. I  kind  of  wish  I  hadn’t  seen  that…   §  Have  an  idea  of  how  you  will  handle  situa@ons  that  are  likely  to  arise.   §  Write  it  down  and  have  that  be  part  of  the  guidelines  you  give  clients  at  the   beginning  of  an  engagement.       §  Viruses  caused  by  an  employee  doing  something  they  shouldn’t  be  doing.   §  Child  pornography.    Legal  duty  vs.  ethical  responsibility.     Ethical issues & sticky situations.
  22. 22. •  Have  you  ever  encountered  an  ethical  issue?   What  did  you  do?  
  23. 23. Networking  vs.  Networking   VS  
  24. 24. •  What  are  your  best  networking  experiences?   •  How  much  of  your  business  is  driven  by   networking?  
  25. 25. Your  Best  Friend  is  the  Remote   Collector   •  Customize  your  Spiceworks  install  to  the   needs  of  the  client   •  Scale  your  business  without  dragging  anyone   down   •  Work  from  a  central  installa@on   •  Create  per-­‐site  user  portals  
  26. 26. Central  Installa@on  Setup   Spiceworks   Installa@on   SQLite  DB   Scanner   IT  Admin  
  27. 27. Ini@al  Remote  Site  Setup   Spiceworks   Installa@on   SQLite  DB   Scanner   IT  Admin   SQLite  DB   Spiceworks  Remote   Install   Scanner   WAN   hps   Central  Installa@on  
  28. 28. Connec@ng  Remote  Site  to  Central  Installa@on   Spiceworks   Installa@on   SQLite  DB   Scanner   IT  Admin   SQLite  DB   Spiceworks  Remote   Install   Scanner   WAN   hps   Central  Installa@on   hps  
  29. 29. Client  View  from  the  Remote  Site   Spiceworks   Installa@on   SQLite  DB   Scanner   IT  Admin   SQLite  DB   Spiceworks   Remote  Install   (with  Portal)   Scanner  WAN   hps   Central  Installa@on   Employee   hps   hps     dispatch   Spawns  
  30. 30. Client  View  from  the  Remote  Site   Spiceworks   Central   IT  Admin   hps   Ac@ve  Directory   IT  Admin   hps   Site  1  Employees   Site  2  Employees   Site  3  Employees   Spiceworks   Remote  Site     (with  Portal)   Spiceworks   Remote  Site     (with  Portal)   Spiceworks   Remote  Site     (with  Portal)   WAN   VPN   Internet  
  31. 31. Branding with MyWay Ç√