Building your dream team for your MSP business
It's exciting when your MSP starts to grow. It's even more challenging when you realize that you can't do it all yourself.
Illustration: Karthikeyan Ganesh
You need to build a great team of professionals that will assist you in delivering a high level of service and growing the business. It's not always simple to know who to hire first. Honestly, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are my tips for building a dream team.
If you're the owner of a small MSP looking to grow, you're likely a jack of all trades. You sell your services, do the work yourself, bill the clients, and service the accounts. If you've grown to a point where you need help to keep up, you should stop and think about your strengths.
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What tasks do you hate?
- What are you really good at?
Many solo MSPs have a solid technical background. They're IT leaders who are exceptionally good a communicating with people and fixing problems. Their ability to talk to other humans effectively sets them apart in the field, getting them many referral businesses. That's a common origin story for an MSP.
If that's you, then that's amazing! You have a great set of talents that will help you go far. Now for the self-reflection. Do you like selling your services? Do you like administrative tasks like billing? Do you enjoy managing employees? Would you say these are strengths of yours?
The key here is to be brutally honest with yourself. Once you decide your strengths and weaknesses, you'll want to hire talent that helps fill in your gaps. If you have a lot of technical expertise but don't love sales, a sales guy might be the right hire.
First key hire
As they're getting started, most MSPs may want to know what positions to hire for first. Usually, a safe bet is to hire a service manager. When you're a small shop, you want to hire a service manager that can do the work themselves. They'll need to work tickets and help clients for the first while. As you pick up more clients and more technicians, they should move into a managerial role. As the organization continues to grow, their primary job will be managing people and not working tickets.
Second key hire
Some folks will debate me on this one, but I think the second key hire you should make once you have a service manager and a few technicians is a sales manager. Most MSPs wait way too long before hiring someone to help with sales. If you make this key hire early, it can power the entire organization forward and speed your growth.
Without having someone whose primary goal is acquiring new clients, you may find yourself languishing at less than a million in revenue for a long time. It's worth investing in the right person (they will pay for themselves x10) and incentivizing them properly to help grow the business.
While the organization is growing, this individual may fill other roles as well. They may help manage your existing accounts and perhaps even purchase the hardware they're selling.
More positions to fill
As the organization continues to grow, you'll find the need for additional hires. These don't always come in the same order, but here are a few more positions that you'll likely want to add to the team as you grow.
You need someone that can keep the books, handle billing, and generally keep the office running smoothly.
Professional services manager
A significant source of revenue for many MSPs is project-based work in the form of professional services. You'll want to hire someone that can run this department with the goal that eventually they will have project engineers working for them and reporting to them.
As you get more accounts, they'll need regular visits and someone to sell the hardware. Account managers work to fill these roles, keep clients happy, and solve customer problems. As the number of clients grows, your account management department should evolve too.
Technical services manager
As you pick up more clients, you'll have an increased need for onsite support for your clients. You'll likely hire onsite techs that spend most of their time in the field. Once you have a few, you'll need a technical service manager to help dispatch those techs and schedule appointments with clients.
Technicians of every kind
You'll need several Tier 1 technicians, some Tier 2 technicians, and some Tier 3 technicians to fill out your team and keep your response times low.
Once your managed services offering is established, you may want to expand your offerings and go more in-depth with network security. A manager for a network operations center that knows security may be in order once you get to this point.
Key Administrator CEO, COO
Once your departments start to fill out and there are more people and departments to manage, you may want to hire an administrator to oversee it all. This may be you as the principal of the company, but you may also find that you would instead fill a CTO role or similar for the organization and let someone else deal with the administration.
Every MSP will have a different growth pattern based on the talents of the founder. Take careful stock of what you do well and hire a team that can help you succeed. Everyone has limitations, and the sooner you recognize yours and get the help you need, the sooner you'll see the growth and success you're looking for.