MSP Business Tips: Avoiding Common Business Expansion Mistakes
An MSP business can stand to benefit from lessons hidden in simple moral stories, such as Aesop’s Fables. Consider “The Lion and the Fox.” In this tale, an old lion realizes he’s too decrepit to chase prey, so he concocts a plan. Pretending to be sick, he remains in his den, so well-wishers may draw near and become meals. They come close to give him their respects, and the lion acts as though he can’t hear them. They inch continuously nearer until they are in range, then the lion swiftly eats them. In the fable, this goes on for a while until a fox comes traipsing up and notices all the footsteps that lead into the cave but don’t lead away from it. When the lion asks the fox to come nearer, the fox is wise enough to pass up the offer and keep from being devoured. In this fable, your MSP is the fox, and the prospect of expansion is the lion. Many businesses will pursue expansion into a lion’s den of failure. Their digital footprints go in, but they don’t go out. Here’s the thing: expansion isn’t necessarily something to avoid. It doesn’t have to be a lion, but you’ve just got to understand what you’re potentially up against and prepare accordingly.
For example, even before you heard this fable, you knew that expanding your MSP business would be a risky venture. However, many want that expansion so bad that they jump in without thinking. They expand a little sign into a big sign in order to justify a built-in desire for success. They believe that existing references and testimonials are more than sufficient for their marketing aims. In reality, though, many potential clients aren’t so apt to trust a given testimonial, especially if it isn’t easily verifiable. Testimonials from beyond a primary service region are especially a suspect. The sharp reality of failure then kills expansion efforts and perhaps even the business if resources are devoted to something that can’t be fulfilled. In this regard, here are several common mistakes to avoid:
• Don’t try to expand beyond your niche until the right time
• Don’t try to overexpand
• Avoid funding from the wrong source
• Avoid DIY solutions that can be better accomplished through outsourcing
• Refrain from hiring too fast
• Ensure you don’t miss proper advisement
• Don’t keep silent about the changes— tell employees and clients!
If you make your expansion by adding new services that aren’t in your initial niche, you’ll be fighting against an additional learning curve in terms of infrastructure and learning. This is an overexpansion by itself. You need to expand within your means as much as you can. Unless you’ve got a sure thing, you shouldn’t be putting yourself into any “loan” situations. On that note, if you’re funded from the wrong people, it’s going to come back to bite you.
Also, sometimes you’re better suited using outsourced solutions than DIY solutions in terms of cost and overall impact. If you hire too quickly for an expansion that is ill-considered, you’re likely to have a negative impact on possible success. All these things can be avoided through the right advice. Work with other MSPs, consultancies, and agencies that have successfully expanded. They can help give you an idea of the best way to proceed and provide information on common pitfalls like those mentioned here, which are avoidable.
Finally, tell those with whom you work or serve about the changes your organization is going through. If you don’t, employees could become suspicious, and clients may think something bad is happening with your company and pull away from you prematurely, severing necessary resources.
An MSP business that carefully considers expansion in this way is more likely to see success. However, one that doesn’t, will leave footprints going into the cave of the expansion lion, which can never return. So, be the fox of Aesop’s fable, and consider the signs of the situation you’re in. The future can’t be controlled, but you can avoid common mistakes.