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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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Improving Your Work-Life Balance Part 3: The Right Behavior

Posted August 10, 2017by David Deckard

Improving Your Work-Life Balance Part 3: The Right Behavior

Welcome back to my series, where I’ve been walking you through how you can improve your work-life balance one step at a time. In my previous posts, we’ve discussed having the right mentality for balance, as well as acquiring the right tools. For this final installment, let’s take a look at three of the habits and behaviors that can inhibit a healthy work-life balance, and then we’ll discover what actions you can take to help you become successful in your business and available in your personal life.

Bad Habit #1: Taking-On Too Much

Many of the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) I have had the pleasure of working with would typically fall under a lower Operational Maturity level (OML), which is a fundamental model for measuring the maturity of managed IT services providers and the businesses they serve. These MSPs with lower OML generally have a staff size of no more than five stakeholders, who could be an owner/technician, technician/salesperson, web designer/salesperson/office assistant, etc. Do you see the common thread here? These individuals have to wear multiple hats, which leads to our first maladaptive habit: being everything to everyone, all of the time.

In order to survive, many smaller MSPs with a lower OML end up having to resort to serving multiple roles and sacrificing aspects of their personal life that are just as—or more—important. It is not uncommon for these individuals to have to work around-the-clock, interrupt dinner with family or friends to answer an email, miss an important family event to fix a server or give up a weekend to complete a project. Ultimately, this leads to a loss of valuable personal time as well as an inability to focus on business growth. I refer to this as “business saturation,” and it will lead to lost revenue, lost sleep, and loss of balance.

Bad Habit #2: Offering Too Much

Similarly, another loss of balance occurs when your business offering is an attempt to be everything to everyone. Managed services covers a large spectrum of possibilities, from managing desktops and servers, to complex cloud environments. Oh, and let’s not forget backup and security. So, the answer must be to have three or four separate offerings with at least two tiers for your clients, right? Wrong!

A major time suck for the MSP, Managed Print, Telco and Office Equipment Dealer is over-engineering your offering. Think of it from the perspective of going to a restaurant with a huge menu. There are so many options to choose from, which leaves more room for error and makes it tough to please everyone. Instead, gain the opportunity to get back valuable time back by offering a managed services package that is inclusive and sticky. And remember: you are the professional. Aim to lead your clients, don’t just chase their business.

Bad Habit #3: Failing to Utilize All Your Resources

The third behavior to avoid is finding a great solution, but only partially using it out of fear. I get it, you are a business owner, so there’s a lot at stake and a lot you have worked hard for. It’s often difficult to let go of old behaviors and systems out of fear. It’s actually a phenomenon called homeostasis: a system will resist change and fight to keep the status quo.

As an example, let’s take Continuum’s IT management platform. I have worked with partners who have leveraged our platform and seen modest results, but modest is not the goal. When inquiring why, the answers are fairly consistent. They do not utilize our Network Operations Center (NOC), Help Desk, or patching services, to name a few. The result is that these MSPs are taking Continuum’s business-changing solution and leveraging it only part of the way. In essence, they’ve made only a small, tiny step towards freeing up time for balance, so the result and profits that go with this are small as well.

So, would you rather partially leverage a solution and spend your time constantly putting out fires, or fully leverage a transformative platform that enables you to spend more time growing and scaling your MSP business?

Now that we’ve established what not to do and why, let’s sum this up with three ways you can kick these bad habits and finally achieve a healthy work-life balance:

#1: Develop Your Roles and Stay in Your Lane

Even if you are a one- to two-person business, you can leverage a fully-managed platform like Continuum to manage and remediate client issues. As a result, you get to focus on being a trusted advisor and business expert for your clients. This will allow you to spend time on growth and keep yourself fresh for the day ahead. No more missing time with the family or giving up a morning run because desktops need to be patched, because Continuum’s platform will have you covered.

#2: Simplify Your Offering

If you throw spaghetti at a wall, some of it sticking is not a guarantee, but cleaning up a mess is for certain. To avoid offering too much for your clients, spend some time with a Continuum Account Manager and strategically sculpt your offering. Simpler offering, simpler life.

#3: Go All In

Partial commitment to balance leads to partial results, and homeostasis will typically do its’ best to buy you a one-way ticket back on the stress bus. If you want a proper work-life balance, take the tools and services that Continuum offers and leverage them to their fullest.

My final thought is to not give up. In my years with Continuum and as a therapist, I have seen attempts at balance fail because people forget that change is a process; it has peaks and valleys. There will be moments that will make you want to go back to old habits, but you need to resist the urge. I have seen MSPs take back control of their life and achieve great things with Continuum’s platform. The tools and the services are there to provide you with balance. The commitment, desire, and tenacity lies with you.

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David has been working with Continuum for over two years, on both the sales and technical side. Originally hired as an Account Executive, David moved to Partner Services to work closely with partners as they completed the technical aspects of onboarding. Currently, David serves as a Business Development Specialist, contributing to international expansion efforts. David also has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. While working in the field for close to ten years, David focused his efforts on stress management, working closely with clients and mental health staff on reducing stress in light of personal and professional demands.

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