We know that a lot of MSPs were able to thrive in 2020, which means that a lot of you will be thriving in 2021 as well. But to thrive, it helps to get a sense of what areas you need to focus your time and energy on. Last week we looked to the past year for context in understanding how the pandemic has changed the MSP industry. This week we apply that knowing, asking our MSP influencers their thoughts on the biggest opportunities of 2021 for managed service providers.
A lot of our influencers pointed to strategic initiatives, rather the new products or services. Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola points out that “MSPs that develop solid sales and marketing channels will be poised to grow their business and acquire new customers faster than their competition,” citing in particular the opportunities to attract new business in the SMB sector, augmenting or replacing internal IT teams. This view is echoed by MSP sales and marketing expert Erick Simpson when he says that “the most successful MSPs in 2021 will be those that out-market and outsell their competition.”
For Paul Dippell of Service Leadership, this means focusing on getting cash flow positive, and plowing that money into growth. “In past recessions, the solution providers who got hurt the least (i.e. lost the fewest employees and accelerated the fastest) were, ironically, those who cut costs deepest and soonest and got to a positive bottom line (or never went negative to begin with) and then spent more of that positive cash flow on marketing and sales.
Mark Copeman, author of Helpdesk Habits and MSP Secrets Revealed, points out that the current environment presents a fantastic opportunity to “look closely at how you present yourself to the outside world. Get critical with your website. Ask others to be super honest. Hire a mystery shopper. Is it fit for purpose, or has it languished for a year or longer without an update?”
In terms of service and revenue opportunities, Gary Pica of TruMethods predicts that security and vCIO services will be standouts for MSPs in 2021. “All business leaders have changed their business plans because of the pandemic and technology needs to support those changes. This is an opportunity to make the vCIO relationship more valuable.”
Todd Kane of Evolved Management points to opportunities in cloud-based workloads, and James Ratcliff reminds us of the opportunities in M&A activity.
Rex Frank from Sea-Level Operations makes an interesting observation here that there are also in the tax impacts of forgiven PPP loans, so it might be a good idea to check with your accountant, because in most countries there are forms of relief for small businesses hit by COVID.
What these responses tell us is that opportunities abound in 2021, but of course there’s also the threats, something we’ll talk about next week. Until then, we invite you to take a look at the 2020 Global MSP Benchmark Report, which compared pre- and post-COVID perceptions of the MSP industry.