Since January, I have been moving at a rapid pace to transition my business from break-fix to themanaged services model, while at the same time positioning to break into a new geographic market where the economy is strong and the opportunity great. The resources available in the channel have been key to accomplishing these goals.
My rural community has not rebounded after the recession and the IT work was drying up. But in 2013, the term “MSP” was coming onto my radar. I was already doing remote support and reselling Carbonite, so I was learning about the business model and going to ASCII Group meetings to learn more. Meanwhile, the next county over, Hamilton, which is adjacent to Indianapolis, has seen huge business growth, particularly among small and midsize businesses. Opportunities in Hamilton County looked tantalizing, but to expand in that market I needed to rebrand and remarket my business, plus find best-of-breed solutions from channel vendors.
I decided to focus on security and business continuity. With those as a starting point, on January 1 of this year I registered my new MSP business as Magnify247.com.
A series of fortuitous events then ensued. As I was researching a security solution for one of my clients, I read an article in ChannelPro-SMB about My Digital Shield (MDS). MDS offers a cloud solution at an affordable, subscription-based price. I was impressed with the company’s approach to cybersecurity for small businesses, so I picked up the phone, expecting to leave a voicemail because it was a Saturday evening. To my surprise, the CEO, Andrew Bagrin, answered. In about 10 minutes he convinced me that I should partner with his company.
My Digital Shield was eager to onboard me as partner, so they pulled out all the stops. Within 72 hours I went from needing a solution, to onboarding, to becoming a partner. Within three weeks I was a trained certified partner. Now I’m branding My Digital Shield as a go-to unified threat management solution for my clients. I never would have found the solution so quickly if I hadn’t read that article.
Armed with MDS, Carbonite, and an outsourced remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution, I began my foray into the Hamilton County market, starting with advertising in the Hamilton County Business Magazine. Both Carbonite and MDS have generously provided marketing co-funds and have been very supportive of my efforts.
In addition to advertising, I joined the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce, and have already been asked to be a “Tech Tuesday” (luncheon) presenter. It will be an opportunity to introduce members to my branded solutions.
Leveraging Channel Resources
It was a huge leap to go from where I was in my business to where I am now—there are so many options and companies. Every day someone wants to sell me a solution or have me join their organization. So I’m carefully vetting my channel resources. I have been a CompTIA certified technician for many years. When I attended the ChannelCon event this year I was able to network with other MSPs, so I decided to become a premier member. I plan to get a Trustmark and to take advantage of the many educational resources.
I don’t want to join everything, but I’m using brand-name, nationally recognized resources and educational events as a means to get more familiar with how to run my business in the MSP model.
In addition, I am now partners with Microsoft and joined the Microsoft small business network. I want to stick to solutions that fit the SMB, so my goal is to get comfortable with reselling Office 365. The dedicated Microsoft rep I’ve been working with has been rolling out the red carpet to get me involved and educated so I can provide those solutions.
I also plan to choose an RMM solution to resell rather than outsource it. Then I will have backup, security, RMM, and O365, and with those four offerings I believe I will have a full solutions suite for my customers.
My approach is very hands-on, “white-glove.” So far, I have been onboarding a new client a day. It’s all about picking the best products and partners; making sure the solutions are easy to buy, deploy, and support; while having a good ROI. Carbonite has been good for me, and MDS is very passionate.
I’m leveraging the channel to learn how to sell solutions, determine the right pricing, and find vendors with the passion and knowledge to help me succeed as managed service provider.