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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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Ask The Experts

November 22, 2023 |

I’m not techie at all but I want to start an MSP. What do I need to know?

Karl W. Palachuk provides tips on how to get started as an IT services provider.

You can be very successful. As a nontechie owner, you have one big advantage and one big disadvantage.

Many nontechies are successful as MSP business owners. Just remember that IT service providers need two primary skills:

  1. How to run a successful business
  2. How to deliver great tech support

That means you have one big advantage, and one big disadvantage.

The big advantage is you shouldn’t be tempted to do all the work yourself. Many IT service providers flounder for years with limited growth because the owner is the most technical person in the business and, therefore, is always tempted to stay involved on the technical side. At some point, you need to hire good people and let them do their jobs while you handle sales and running the business.

The big disadvantage, of course, is that you can’t execute the service delivery. That means that you have to have enough income or starter money to pay someone else to do the work. This can be a huge startup cost. One technician needs to do enough work to support two salaries — yours and theirs. This can be done, but it takes planning and commitment.

One option is to partner with someone willing to work part-time as needed. This could be a student or a stay-at-home parent who is skilled and experienced, but simply unable to commit to 40 hours per week.

Another option is to outsource work to a company that provides these services to a variety of IT service providers. You’ll pay more for this option, but it’s a good one until you can afford to hire someone full time.

Another common option, if you have the money, is to buy a profitable business and become its new owner/manager. You still would have the same advantages and disadvantages, but you don’t go through the whole “startup” process to get the business off the ground.

To make any of this work, you need some training. Both you and your staff need to understand the managed services business model and how service is delivered under this model, and together, you’ll create the policies and procedures that will keep you profitable.

If you have a good sum of startup money, you’ll be able to hire a decent technician full time. Then your biggest challenge will be to generate enough sales to keep them busy. You will lose money at first, but eventually become profitable. Just make sure you set hard limits on what you can afford to lose and when you expect to start breaking even and becoming profitable.

I’ve met dozens of people who retired from another profession and invested their lump-sum payouts in an IT business. They all managed to be profitable and create good, sustainable companies.

My final piece of advice is to jump in with both feet. Do not try to be a part-time owner, manager, or entrepreneur. If you start by going in halfway, you’ll already be halfway out of the business. You need a real plan and a strategy for success. Work hard and build your business with intention.

Karl Palachuk of Small Biz Thoughts

Karl W. Palachuk
Galactic Ticket Inspector
Small Biz Thoughts

Karl W. Palachuk is a pioneer of the managed services business model. He maintains several blogs — including “Small Biz Thoughts” and “Relax Focus Succeed” — and produces podcasts like “The SMB Community Podcast” and “The Killing IT Podcast.” Read more interesting facts about Palachuk on channelWise.

Have a question? Email our experts now!


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