Get by with a Little Help from Friends: How Peer Insight Helps with Business Growth

August 24, 2015  By Steve Alexander
 By Steve Alexander

Twenty years ago when I had only five years of experience running MSP businesses, people would ask me for advice based on my "vast" reservoir of knowledge. Given the amount of mistakes I was making, it seemed odd at the time.

I have a lot more experience now, but so does our industry in general. In an Autotask survey of more than 1,800 IT service providers in 2014, more than half of respondents said managed services provide at least half of their revenue, and three in four said they plan to increase their managed services offerings. There's no doubt that the market need for more collaborative partnerships is driving growth in our industry.

Growth is good, of course, but it presents many challenges for business leaders who aren't used to managing it. This is where the value of peer groups comes in. For the businesses I work with, peer groups offer a safe place to discuss management challenges and seek input from like-minded and experienced peers. We don't just discuss tactics. These are high-level discussions about business management issues, strategy, tools and more.

Many of the leaders I encounter at growing companies feel as if they are alone in their management challenges. They have their staff, but they are now running a business that's bigger than they've ever experienced, and they start taking their problems home with them at night instead of solving them. With that, it's common to start thinking, "I'm a bad manager." But that's not always the case. Sometimes it's just a matter of adjusting your delivery or response to staff or situations. Without feedback, you and your staff don't improve.

Finally, peer groups can help with affective long-term planning. How much do you expect your business to be worth in five years? What factors matter most? I've owned and sold two MSP businesses, and it can be painfully frustrating when you've done everything you planned, but valuation is not where you thought it would be. Peer insight can help guide expectations to be realistic.

Collective knowledge has become a huge value driver both in business and in society at large. Connecting with experienced peers through a group is a proven way to tap into collective knowledge. If you're struggling with management issues, take some pressure off yourself and turn to your peers for help.

Autotask Opportunities for Peer Networking
Steve Alexander
Steve Alexander is owner of MSP-Ignite and has 25 years of experience managing, building and eventually selling two regional Managed Services Providers. He has worked with hundreds of MSPs and has been involved in over a dozen mergers and acquisitions. He is a subject matter expert for CompTIA’s Managed Services Trust Mark, an Advisor to their Managed Services Community and has served on several regional and national advisory boards. He facilitates several industry peer groups.

Steve is one of the original Autotask MVPs and has successfully implemented and trained hundreds of Autotask users as a certified consulting partner.  

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