Over the past five years I have coached more than 1,000 MSPs on how to increase recurring revenue and profitability. In every case, the business owner wanted their future results to be dramatically different than their current situation. This means that something (usually a long list of things) will need to change. It may be a change in people, process, or focus.
I have found that discipline around the business planning process is the leading indicator of success. Let me explain a few reasons why time spent on business planning will change your business and change your life.
Is success always just around the corner?
There is something I call the “around the corner” mentality. I meet business owners who have been in business for many years. They run a successful company but never really achieve the results they had imagined. They always tell me all the reasons why they have not fulfilled their potential and how they believe things will be different soon. They just have to start “working on the business instead of in it,” or hire the right sales person, or replace an employee that is a bad seed.
There always seems to be something that will change everything soon. But when I see them six months or a year later, guess where success is … still around the corner.
Why is this mentality so prevalent? I have studied this over my 20 years as a business owner and have found a few interesting factors that contribute to this “around the corner” mentality:
- Learn what to do and do it: In theory you should be able to learn what to do to achieve results in your business and then just do it. In my coaching program, we give everyone access to the same information, but not everyone gets the same results. Why is this?
- Things are great in the future: In the future, you will have time to work on the business. In the future, you will focus on sales or spend more time on process. The problem is that every business owner is busy in the present. When next week or next month comes along, you are still just as busy working on urgent things, and the important tasks never get done.
Business owners are hoping to come into work one day and find that there are no emails, no service tickets, and no client issues or employee issues. In my 20 years as a MSP, that day has never come. The first step toward success is to understand this reality and plan for it.
- Start today: The key to achieving better results in business is to make your plan based on your current situation, not the future when you are hoping things will be different. The right business planning process will allow you to make progress toward your goals today!
The key to business planning success
There are a few simple business planning concepts that will change your business forever. The first is obvious: you need to complete a business plan!
The top excuses I hear from business owners are that they are too busy, or too small, or don’t have the resources to implement a plan. These excuses are exactly why you need a plan. EVERY business needs an actionable business plan. Here are a few keys to success:
- Vision: The changes you make in your business today need to be in the context of your vision for your life and business. Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years? Change is difficult, and a strong vision gives meaning and purpose to your goals. Be sure your vision includes your entire team.
- Targets: Three-year targets are a critical component of your plan. This is a timeframe that is far enough in the future to allow for setbacks and short enough for you to set accurate goals. Your targets should get you in a position to reach your 10-year vision.
- Plan: A one-year plan is the first step to achieving your three-year targets. Now that you have a strong vision and three-year targets, you can decide what your priorities need to be over the next year.
- Action: You are ready to complete your quarterly action plan. Your action plan considers your current business environment and allows you to make progress now rather than waiting for things to change first.
I have lived by my quarterly action plan for many years. I have shared this MSP business plan template with business owners, and their feedback is always the same. When you accomplish a few of the most important priorities each quarter, the results are truly amazing. By implementing these few simple items you can achieve goals that you never dreamed were possible.
I have developed a simple business planning process specifically for MSPs. Join me along with Intronis on April 8 for the 2015 MSP Business Planning webinar.
Gary Pica is a pioneer in the managed services field. His company, Dynamic Digital Services, was 'early to market' in the MSP arena and quickly became one of the fastest growing MSPs in the country, with over 7,000 endpoints under management. Now, as President of TruMethods, Gary Pica shares the key ingredients that revolutionized his business and helps IT solution providers reach their full potential.