Looking to 2015: 3 Business Steps to Take Before Year-End

Ray VrabelBy Raymond Vrabel

In my last blog post, I discussed various considerations when choosing a file sync and share service. This month, I focus on an end-of-the-year wrap-up on what we learned in the SMB space in 2014, as well as what MSPs should be looking for in 2015. It’s hard to believe that the new year will be here in just a couple of weeks!

If you review previous blogs I have written this year, they sequence almost like a playbook that you can follow while transitioning your business to a managed IT services model. We kicked off this blog series in March with Why It Makes Sense for Telco Providers to Add Managed IT Services (Now), which discussed the benefits of adding a managed services model and why it’s something IT providers need to consider. A month later, my blog post, Ways to Optimize Your MSP Practice,  discussed how you must be willing to shift your business model and services offerings, even if you just make a few simple changes like adjusting pricing and managing automation.

If you have been following my blog series, you may have taken steps to add managed IT services to your portfolio, or perhaps you’re working to collaborate with other MSPs on projects before taking it on. Wherever you are in the process, now is a good time to reevaluate total cost of ownership (TCO) and any new revenue streams you might want to add, as well as set short- and long-term goals. Whatever your priority may be, here are some quick tips to consider between now and January 1.

1. Refine Current Tools. Ask yourself, “What am I looking for in the future?” Start with your pricing model for 2015, and refine it if necessary. Look at current business tools: Are they working for your business now, and are they aligned with where you want to be in 2015? Don’t stay married to a tool you purchased earlier in the year if it isn’t working for your business. Think about new tools to put in place and how you might build them out over the next year. Are these tools going to deliver the margins that you need for 2015 and beyond?

A recent blog post we wrote, 6 Characteristics to Look for in Your Solutions Vendor,  provides some key considerations to evaluate when choosing a vendor — I recommend you give it a read.

Also, if your goal is to onboard one new client per month, what does that mean for your business in terms of scalability and capacity? To meet these goals, ensure you have the right techs and account management team in place. Do this by evaluating your current staff and having a solid plan in place to tackle 2015 goals.

2. Begin Planning a 2015 Sales and Marketing Strategy. If you haven’t started already, now is a good time to start planning, and budgeting for sales and marketing activities for next year. Make sure the strategy and the employees who will carry it out are solid. Aside from reevaluating your employees, now is also the time to reevaluate your customer base. Much like a CTO would do, perform an end-of-year review for your clients – find out where their business stands and where they hope to take it in the next year. Some questions you might want to ask include:

  • What do you want to improve on from last year?
  • What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
  • How is the cloud going to be part of the conversation for your technology needs in the next year?
  • How have your technology needs changed and what can be done to seamlessly achieve those changes?

3. Reevaluate Clients’ BDR Strategies. This is especially important if you have clients who want to move to the cloud in 2015. Evaluate their current storage and new growth, as BDR is not a “one-size-fits-all” technology — it’s very dynamic and must be treated on a case-by-case, custom-tailored basis.

In an earlier blog, I discussed 9 Revenue Streams You Need to Offer – Now, and two of them are cloud and BDR. When it comes to the cloud, I noted that even if your clients aren’t using the cloud, you can discuss it with them and get them familiar with this alternative. Discuss this when warranties are up for renewal — after all, many come due at the end of the year or when it’s time for a hardware refresh. BDR is a sensitive area, and most people don’t realize how important it is to have a BDR plan in place until it’s too late. Educate your clients and get them a BDR platform.

Now is a great time to assess year-end reviews for both employees and clients, and also to ensure you’re keeping in tune with your clients’ constantly changing technology needs. Throughout the new year, continuously look forward with regard to both your business and meeting your customers’ technology needs. Wishing MSPs and all those who serve the managed IT services industry a lucrative, successful 2015!

Raymond Vrabel is Continuum‘s director of technical account management and participates in product and service growth initiatives. He manages Continuum’s Technical Account Management team which supports more than 3,500 partners worldwide. Vrabel has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in managed IT services, disaster recovery and cloud solutions.


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