view-from-across-the-pondWhat keeps you awake at night? Is it thoughts of where your next client is going to come from, or is it that one issue smoldering away at one of your top client locations?

During the past 48 hours I have enjoyed the opportunity to connect with approximately 25 of the United Kingdom’s top IT firms. These growing technology firms represent various regions across England, Wales and Scotland. It was truly an honour to be part of this event with SPC International and Ingram Micro.

As I travelled along the British Rail system back to London to catch my flight home, I had an opportunity to reflect on the MSP community and what it means to serve over a thousand MSP and IT firms each year through my own business consulting practice.

Here is what I know to be true: IT firms, no matter where they are located, all have similar challenges. They have issues familiar to many of us in North America and some that are slightly different.

Many struggle with staffing and finding the best available talent. Staffing is a global issue. Great people are hard to come across, and when you find them, you need to hold onto them. I have been fortunate to work with Jonathan Smith, President of Chicago’s VerityThree, for the past year. Jonathan went through a huge culture change this year with his team, opening up a new way of doing business. If his clients are not happy, they don’t have to pay, and his staff has the luxury of working from anywhere. These are some of the things we spotlight, MSPs doing unique things to help manage talent.

Of course, another way to help deal with talent issues is to outsource your help desk. An outsourced help desk can also give your team the flexibility to work on the things they enjoy and allow the help desk to take care of the day-to-day issues. For me, this is a no brainer.

The cloud continues to present opportunity and struggle for MSPs globally. Here is an interesting stat overheard at the boot camp in Wales this week: 80% of the MSPs succeeding in the cloud were born in the cloud era, and the ones who continue to struggle are those who are transitioning from the old MSP business model. I thought that was interesting, and it makes sense. These younger MSPs don’t have the baggage many of us in our industry carry with us.

The last major challenge we discussed in Wales this week, during the CEO sessions, was around sales remuneration. Not compensation. In the UK compensation has a totally different meaning. How do we pay sales professionals? Note, I didn’t say sales people; I said sales professionals. I have a different blog post on this topic for another day. What models work, and where do they work? I have a spreadsheet I can share with you if you email me at scrawford@ulistic.com and put Sales Remuneration Plan in the subject. I promise to send it to you.

As an MSP Business Coach, I am so fortunate to work with MSPs globally. I believe it is this global view that provides my team at Ulistic with a unique value proposition. I will return to the UK in October, and I look forward to seeing what has changed, if anything, over the summer.

In closing, here is what you can do. Focus on what makes your business unique. Turn off all the distractions out there. I know this is hard because in the MSP business, there are so many people wanting your attention. Take action in growing your business. Get help where needed. Focus on the growth of your business. It is a tough world out there. More and more competitors are coming onto the horizons; margins are getting slimmer and slimmer as well. However, there is still opportunity out there. You just may need to change a little.

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