History tells us that when major events occur, the course of human history pivots. Right now, we are seeing an unprecedented disruption to businesses and daily lives. In the short term, it’s all about survival—making sure you have the cash flow to make payroll and keep the lights on. But in the long run, you can use this crisis as an opportunity to be an early mover on some of the changes that will be occurring in the IT business. The best MSPs will think of opportunities that others aren’t thinking of—ideas that will power the future of your business.
Here are some thoughts to get you started.
Solutions to Problems You Never Knew You Had
Let’s say you’re faced with an unusual situation, say, a complete lack of toilet paper in the stores. How do you solve that? Well, either a) you drive all over town swiping squares from Mickey D’s and buying up every roll you can find, or b) you find ways to use less toilet paper. For example, if you install a Japanese toilet, you will cut your toilet paper usage substantially. But you might not think about that until you have a toilet paper shortage.
Now apply that logic to your small business customers, or even your own business. What problems have you or your clients just realized that you have? Maybe it was a lack of preparedness for remote work. Maybe it is the reliance on on-prem solutions that only work when people are actually on premises. Maybe your clients are all of a sudden facing a cash flow crunch, and now realize they didn’t pay enough attention to cash flow, or their sales operation. There’s a lot of problems people are just not startnig to realize that they have.
Better Solutions to Problems You Knew You Had
Let’s say your home is full of clutter. But you spent a lot of time at the office and like to get outside on the weekends, so the clutter didn’t matter. But now you’re working from home and all that clutter suddenly becomes impossible to ignore. So you tidy up. And then you realize how much more you like being home because it’s tidy now. You always knew it was a problem, but you could avoid dealing with it, so you avoided dealing with it.
For a lot of MSPs, documentation fits that description to a T. Or maybe it’s your sales process. For your clients, maybe it’s something else, like compliance, or disaster recovery, or cyber-insurance. The COVID-19 crisis might be exposing areas of weakness that previously did not warrant attention, but now have become much more important to shore up. For your clients, what are those?
Solutions to New Problems
New problems arise all the time, and we find solutions to those problems. The current situation is no different. Now is the time to have conversations with all of your clients and get a feel for what new problems they might be facing, and start thinking about how you might be able to address those problems. For a restaurant or a retail store, being told that you have to shut down for two weeks would be a new problem, one you never really thought you’d have, but which is now a real-world scenario.
If you’re in regular communication with your clients, you are in a better position to understand what new problems they face. This is what you do—you find solutions for your clients, add value to their business, and by doing that you’re able to earn your living. The reality is that the problems they faced a few months ago might not be the biggest problems they face today. Understanding those changes, and whether or not these problems will persist after the current crisis fades, will put you in the driver’s seat.
A Bright New Day
Not everybody has the luxury of thinking about the future in this way. A lot of SMBs, both in IT and who buy IT services, are staring down short term revenue uncertainty, and immediate cash flow challenges. If you are in a more favorable position, honestly, you owe it to your business and your employees to start thinking about how the current crisis will change the MSP industry.
This crisis will be over. When it ends and we all step outside our homes and breath in fresh air again, companies will be looking to make up for lost time. That’s going to orient them towards growth. The better the understanding you have of what that growth will look like, the better positioned you’ll be to strengthen your business and get back on track more quickly than if you neglect to think about the post-corona world.