1 MSP Business Plan - Overview There are two parts to the MSP Business plan, a spreadsheet to demonstrate the financial implications of a MSP model, and this document detailing all of the considerations in establishing an MSP business model as per the business plan. The spreadsheet is readily available to all to demonstrate the viability of the MSP model; this document is available as a part of the Kaseya MSP program. This document provides an overview for the Business Plan spreadsheet to assess it s viability for your circumstances before committing to this business approach. You can only receive this full Business Plan document on joining the Kaseya MSP program. The MSP Business Plan assumes you are starting from scratch. While this may be true in some cases, for many this will not be the case. This does not rule out the usefulness of the model. There are a number of reasons why this approach is taken: 1) It s impossible to allow for all existing types of business. 2) In most cases the MSP business is far enough removed from the existing business model that it is not unlike starting a new business or division. 3) For the move from old style ad-hoc business to the new MSP model requires a complete change in thinking, this can not be done by mixing it with any old style model, the move needs to be complete, very like starting a new business. 4) You can add early sales into the model to allow for swapping some customers from old models onto the new, hence benefiting from existing business to launch the new business. 5) You can add allowance for miscellaneous sales of supplies, peripherals etc as per historical data into the Historical Sales section on sheet 6 Financial Summary. This adds in your previous business into the new model. Remember this means you would need to continue to get this business on top of getting the new sales outlined in the plan. Neither of these documents constitutes any kind of guarantee from Kaseya of the usefulness of any of the recommendations, nor does Kaseya accept any responsibility for any of the information contained in either.
2 The Financial Plan Overview The MSP Business Plan spreadsheet is an accompanying document to the MSP Business Plan document, but on it s own it can be used to explore the financial relationship between sales, margins, personnel and profit for delivering outsourced support services to SME s. The business plan comes with basic pre-set values for 100, 500 and thereafter 1000 seat breaks up to 5000 seats. Use the model which is closest to what you think is realistic for your business, and make changes it as you see fit. Work through each sheet in the plan in order and look for the notes in the cells in each page. The notes are marked by a small red triangle area in the top right hand corner of a cell. Hovering over the cell will display a box with the notes, explaining what the cell, row or column is for, and in some cases how it can be adjusted, and what effect that has on the plan. To be useful the document needs to make a number of assumptions about how such a plan would be implemented, and to keep the document simple. Information about years two and three in the plan use a very simple formula to continue sales at exactly the same rate as in year 1 and year 2 consecutively, and that all existing customers continue to pay the same monthly payments. It would be usual to expect that sales would continue to grow in year two and three, so only expecting the same sales as the previous is in fact quite conservative, and makes up for the fact that it implies one hundred percent customer retention which is unlikely however good your customer service is - customers move location, go out of business, or genuinely move to competition. Following is further explanation of what each sheet is covering, and how to get the best out of the plan and use it to meet our business needs.
3 1 Prices The price list gives a number of example services that can be provided to small businesses. These make up the core offerings that any small business would need to receive from an MSP in order for the service to be complete. It also gives examples of a number of service areas of critical concern for small businesses such as , backup etc. For further explanation of the services, hover over the notes for each service at the beginning of the row inside the spreadsheet. The headings of each column reflect the different ways each service can be charged for. For example, an Internet connection is a standard monthly change, irrespective of the numbers of PC s, where as the service is based on the number of PC s. It is prudent to also have a setup fee for each of the services, that is in keeping with the amount of effort involved in setting each up. This is a one-off setup fee that also helps cover the cost of acquiring the customer, and gives some measure of buy-in to the service. For some of the services this is an allowance based on hours, for others it is a direct charge. In the case of for example, this can be to cover the cost of having to transfer a company s domain name, or the purchase of a domain name if they don t already have one. The guide prices that appear in the spreadsheet by default have been established by researching similar types of high quality services that can be easily procured on the market, only services aimed at SME s and that are low maintenance for the MSP have been taken into account. Obviously if the cost of maintaining a support contract is higher, the associated cost goes up, for example; it would be very expensive for the MSP to try and provide every customer with their own Exchange server - this inevitably leads to down time, high overhead and customer dissatisfaction, but also means they have to charge more for the service. Think about what is best for the customer, and not what necessarily ticks the most technical cool boxes. SME s need cost-effective, reliable services, not the latest and greatest wow-factor. Leave the bleeding edge for the companies who can afford the risk and expense with which it is associated. This doesn t mean don t offer modern up to date services and systems, it means finding the right balance that works for your customers. So the price comparisons have been chosen from offerings that do not try to offer high maintenance solutions, but effective well thought out ones. In the case of the managed support services, the prices are based on existing MSP s who are already trading today with similar types of services. Of course the pricing has to fit the kinds of customers you expect to have buying your service. By default the Business Plan should show 35 per PC for managed support. This is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive price for these kinds of services. The idea is that as an independant MSP offering this kind of service, you should offer a high quality personal service that is above the average customers would receive if they went to a faceless giant such as IBM or EDS. Offering a premium service gives you a unique edge against large competition who will try to compete on price. You can of course lower the prices for the services in the spreadsheet if you wish, but just remember, this means you need to sell more of the same service in order to stay profitable, and it also lowers your margins, which increases your risk, so take these aspects into account when changing the price structure.
4 2 Sales Probably the single most important aspect of running a business is sales. Sales are the life-blood of the business, without sales you don t have customers, without customers, you don t have a business. Sales and marketing are interrelated, and marketing can be seen as the little brother to sales. Marketing can help to find sales, and so can be an important investment; however money spent on elaborate marketing when you haven t clearly identified how to sell to your potential customers is wasted. Don t start marketing until you already know how to sell your services. Think long and hard about who your customers are. What type of business do they run, why would they want to use your service, when do they try to find a service provider, and where do they look to find one. You need to be there at the time they decide to start looking. That does mean investing in some kind of marketing getting in front of potential customers and telling them about your services. Just don t do it until your really ready to close business. By making your offering more focused to a particular type of business, you make it easier to both find you, and for you to bring on board customers. The task of finding customers is always a challenging prospect, but one that should take up a large chunk of the business time. The process of finding potential target clients is called prospecting, and you need to do it however you can. You can pick up the phone and call everyone in your area, send mail-outs, advertise on the web, or in the paper. Do it however you can, but don t ever stop doing it. Make it a part of your daily and weekly routine to make sure it gets done. You don t have to enjoy it, but you do have to do it. One of the more common methods of being there at the point of pain, is to offer a charge per minute premium phone line. This can be advertised regularly in local advertising, and can be used by anyone to get an immediate support service. The idea being that once they have made contact you now have a target customer. This means it is VERY important to capture all the details when anyone calls this type of line for support. These prospects can then be followed up afterward and offered your ongoing support service. Remember: Sales are the life-blood of the business, without sales you don t have customers, without customers, you don t have a business. Make sure you have a proper way of recording possible prospects and keeping track of a sales process once you have found an interested party. Invest in a CRM system however simple and make sure you use it religiously, e.g. https://www.salesforce.com/uk/products/team.jsp Sales is all about giving your prospect the confidence to both invest their money in your business, but also hand over an important aspect of their business into your care. Building the confidence to take this leap is absolutely key, and starts from the very first time you make contact. If you have someone who s telephone manner isn t their strongest point, don t have them making initial contact with your customers!
5 It also continues on through every action you take with both prospects, and your biggest marketing engine existing customers. Word of mouth is still the main way of gaining new business for any small business today so what would your customers tell their friends about your service? Think long and hard about this. Remember: Sales are the life-blood of the business, without sales you don t have customers, without customers, you don t have a business. Gaining a prospects confidence is also involves them being able to understand what you are offering. Make sure you can explain your offering in very simple nontechnical terms, and explain very clearly the costs involved. Keeping it simple is very important so the customer can think how your offering fits into their budget and business, otherwise it all starts to look like too much effort for them, and they will be put off, or labour a very long time over a decision. Have clear leaflets and web pages that outline each of your offerings, and have a clear price list ready to include with brochures or hand out (make sure these are printed on a separate sheet, as prices do change). Having printed material is very important so invest in a decent printer (or finding a good local print service can be more economical) and get some professional looking, but simple colour leaflets made up to mail and hand out to prospects. Use them judiciously, only to interested parties, but don t leave them piled up in the office, they are only any use if someone out there is reading them. Once you have thought seriously about all of these things, start putting realistic figures into the spreadsheet about how much of each product you can sell. Remember, it s you who will have to make these numbers happen. Just remember: Sales are the life-blood of the business, without sales you don t have customers, without customers, you don t have a business.
6 3 Margins It s all very well selling lots of something, but if you don t make any profit on it, your business won t survive for long. In case you didn t know: margin is the difference between what you have to pay your supplier for a product, and what you can, in turn, charge your customer. If you buy a product from your supplier for 5 pounds and then sell it for 10 pounds, your margin is 5 pounds, or 100% (5 pounds being 100% of the original value you paid). This is sometimes also referred to as profit margin. The key is that there must be sufficient margin in a product to make it worth you selling it. If the margin is very low, for example 1%, even if you sell 10,000 pounds worth of the product, you will only make 100 pounds. Unless it s very easy to sell lots of a low margin product, it s not worth the time it takes you. Do make sure that you take plenty of time to research the products and services you are going to sell thoroughly and work out exactly how much you have to pay your supplier to source them, and most importantly - how much your market will be willing to pay for it. If you are going to have a given product as one of your offerings, try and find a supplier who you feel you can work with, and that will recognise the fact that you will be bringing them extra business. Perhaps not initially, but certainly once you have established a history of sales, you should be able to negotiate a discount to increase your margin. The margin for your own services is 100%, as you get all of the money from the sale of the service as revenue. Of course you still have to pay to run your business, but they are running costs, and not money being paid to a supplier. The running costs are covered later in the financial summary.
7 4 Revenue In the MSP business plan, the Revenue sheet is just a summary to show what income you can expect from the sales you re forecasting. Revenue does not equate to profit. Revenue is usually a measure of all income from sales before any associated costs, but in this case, it s been shown less the margin you have to pay your supplier. This is done to simplify the model, and so that you can see how much money you will actually make from the sale of each type of product. This allows you to see which products make you the most money over time, and which are worth investing the most time in as a business. This is more like Gross Profit. For further information on revenue, profit and their meanings and how they effect your business, take a look at the Business Link site. 5- Personnel After the customers, the most important part of a business is the personnel. They are the people who will interface with your most valued possession your customers. They are also responsible for the quality of the services you deliver. This means making sure you can afford the right type of people to suit your business. This is of course always a personal choice, and comes down to how you want to run your business. There are a number of different aspects to the right kind of personnel, from their personal disposition to their location. For the purposes of the MSP Business plan we are most concerned with the roles that they fill, and the amount that will be required to find the right person. Depending on whether you are an existing business and the staff you are modelling are already in place, or you are starting a new business or business unit, you will need to ensure you have sufficient funds to cover these staffing needs. By thinking clearly about the roles you need to fill in the business, you can then work out how much you will need to allow for each of these positions. The roles outlined in the MSP Business plan are based on research across a number of MSP s delivering support services as a core offering into the SME market. Although not exhaustive they cover the 3 main areas that are needed to meet the needs of the business, remote services, onsite service and management/sales. To further explain each of the different types allowed for, further detail is covered below.
8 Per PC Allowance In the Business Plan spreadsheet there is an allowance per PC of hours for a year. This seems like quite a low number initially, but when you add it up across all PC s and across all the different types of staff you should see a realistic number, e.g. across a customer with 10 PC s there would 10 x IT Support Consultant allowance of 3 hours, 10 x Engineer allowance of 2 hours, 10 X Manager/Sales allowance of 2 hours, giving a total of 70 hours a year, or roughly 6 hours a month. This of course will vary from month to month as some will be busy and some will be quiet. It is important to track this. Create a field in the ticketing for hours worked and try and religiously time how long you spend on each ticket, this will allow you to add up the time across the PC s over a month. Buy a nice big timer for each engineer s desk and make sure they are used religiously - at least until the automatic time measurement is built into the ticketing! Continually monitoring the time spent on customers and managing the relationship between great service and realistic profit is key to success, so make sure this is an aspect that gets much thought, and is built in to the business process you use every day, month, week and year. IT Support Consultant The IT support Consultant is designated here as a remote specialist that never visits a local site and should be able to diagnose and fix all faults to a very high level. Only on-sight issues or those that are passed onto 3 rd parties won t be dealt with by the IT Support Consultant. It is expected that 90% of issues should be able to be dealt with remotely, so there should always be far more IT Support consultants that onsite engineers. This is affected however by the amount of face time that you want to provide your customers. There is a balance between keeping onsite time to a minimum and providing a friendly service, this is up to you to decide, but this does effect your profitability. An IT Support Consultant needs an exceptionally good manner with customers, and needs to understand the need for great service above all. Making the customer happy should be their main aim in life. Central to this is keeping in contact with the customer. The customer should always know where their issue is up to, what is happening with it, what the next action is, and who is dealing with it. It is the job of the IT Support Consultant to ensure this is happening. So apart from fixing problems the IT Support Consultant is also a customer relations facilitator and problem manager.
9 Engineer It is inevitable that some time will be needed on site, and the staff that do site visits in this model are know as Engineers. Not all of an Engineer s allowed time is necessarily spent on site. Given the ratio between the IT Support Consultant allotted time vs. Engineer time is set at 3:2 in the plan, but onsite vs. remote time is expected to be more like 10:1. This means that over 50% of an Engineers time will still be spent doing remote support. When not on onsite visits (or even sometimes when on an onsite visit) the Engineers are expected to be available on a PC to pick up support calls. They will need to look through the call stack and assign problems to themselves that they can fix. The main difference being that while the engineer can still be allocated problems to fix, they never take the initial incoming requests from customers, and are not customer facing specialists like the IT Support Consultant. Of course when they are on site they will still be dealing with customers, so they need to be polite and courteous, however this is not their main role. Rather than get into conversations with the customers, they should refer customers to an IT Support Specialist, or the Sales Person dealing with the account. This model also leaves room open for onsite work to be passed to a 3 rd party rather than delivered internally. In fact it over-allows, as it allows this time against and Engineer, but it also leaves enough margin in the Ad-hoc charges to pay someone else to do the work! So the model does in fact allow for both paying the 3 rd party and paying an engineer. If you expect a large proportion of your onsite work to be done by 3 rd parties, you could lower the Per PC Allowance figure for engineers. Conversely, if you expect to do most of your own onsite work, you can go into the 3 Margins sheet at put the margin for Ad Hoc work up to 100%. As it stands in the default model by leaving in both, it allows a lot of room for movement in the model, and covers you against having to spend a lot of time onsite with customers. This doesn t mean this is expected; it s merely being conservative with the model and planning for worst case rather than best case scenario. This should give you added confidence that the model is very strong and can easily succeed. Manager/Sales This is the most important role for the business. A salesperson is responsible for finding customers and keeping customers onboard. If you are only going to have one person for this position initially, then they will need to spend the larger portion of their time on sales than management. This should fit the business anyway, as the first few people involved in the business should be reasonably self sufficient and shouldn t need managing. Make sure you outsource as much of the business management as possible to free up more time for sales, e.g. a good accountant to do the books every month, payroll etc.
10 If you are starting as both the sales person and manager then you will need to think ahead to when you will need to bring on someone else to help with sales, look ahead and plan when that will need to happen, and what their role will need to be. If you are finding you are good at sales, bring on a manager so you can concentrate on sales, otherwise start looking for a salesperson ASAP. If this is going to be the first sales person that you take on, you will need to be very careful in your selection. A sales person can be a large financial burden, as you can expect to have to pay well to get a good salesperson, but also it can be some time before a salesperson can start to bring in sales. This means you have to plan to be able to pay the cost of a salesperson for up to 6 months without them bringing in any new sales. Obviously this is very unlikely to be the case, but it can be 6 months before they will be fully up an running. If you can find a sales person who can bring a few customers with them, that can be a huge benefit, but it will no doubt cost you more. Sales people are motivated by commission. Make sure to take plenty of time to consider how their getting a customer is going to be rewarded. By making sure they get a decent amount of commission on each sale you will ensure they are always hungry for the next sale. This needs to be sufficient to be motivational, but not too much so they get along too easily on a few sales, you need them to always be pushing for the next sale. Sales people get paid based on an OTE, On Target Earnings. This means they need a target. One of the most important aspects of filling in the Customer numbers in the MSP Business Plan spreadsheet is to outline what you expect to achieve in terms of sales, and to use this to base the targets on for salespeople. This will require a lot of thought, and the more information you have to make this as realistic as possible, will help you in attracting good salespeople. They will need to know that the targets you come up with are both realistic and achievable. It will be up to you to prove this is the case. The salespeople will usually get a base salary (or possible a retainer) - what they get paid every month with no sales. They need this to survive, as it can take between 3-6 months to build a sufficient pipeline. This does not mean they get to sit around doing nothing, quite the opposite a huge amount of work is needed initially to start the process. It just means that this initial pipeline building may not necessarily result in immediate upfront sales. Try not to set too many expectations with salespeople either way. If you expect to little upfront they may not try to close any short term business, if you push too hard, they may become de-motivated if they feel they are not achieving. By not setting an expectation either way, you can evaluate the position as you go, and encourage short and long term sales growth as it appears realistic. Try to bargain with the basic vs commission wages. To lower your risk, you can offer a lower base salary, but give a higher percentage per sale. This allows you to bring on board a good sales person at a lower cost. Be very suspicious of a salesperson who isn t interested in a good commission package. They main thing of importance should be the OTE, how much money they can make if they achieve good sales. The trick is finding the right relationship between base and commission as a percentage. An
11 average sales person may expect this to be 50/50, but a good sales person should be thinking more about 40/60. That being 40 percent of their wages will come from base salary, and 60 will come from commission. If you can find a salesperson willing to go further, to 30/70 then great, but they will expect higher commission percentages, and some proof that these targets are achievable. Use a version of the MSP Business Plan spreadsheet that includes commission allowance in the Cost of Sales in the Financial Plan. On a 50/50 plan with a salesperson you would only expect to pay perhaps a 10 percent commission. But as they amount of money the salesperson is paid from commission is increased, the percentage will need to increase as well to reward them for their increased risk. You will need to negotiate, but perhaps 15 percent for 40/60 and 20 percent for 30/70 might be a good place to start. You may need to change the sales pay in the plan to reflect this. Building sufficient pipeline is the key to sales. A pipeline is everything that a salesperson is working on, from initial contact through to negotiation. Often there can be a gap between the initial contact with a customer and when they actually sign up. This means having sufficient thing on the go to ensure there is sufficient business closing every month. New contacts need to be made to feed the pipeline, and regular contact with prospects to push the sales along. The final and most important part of the process is Closing. This whole effect and process is referred to as the pipeline. Closing is the most important skill of a salesperson. It is in fact this single thing that makes the difference between an average salesperson and a great salesperson. A salesperson that is a good closer is often referred to as a hunter. This means they are capable of ensuring that the highest possible percentage of prospects that can be turned into paying customers will be. This does not mean that all or even a large percentage of your salespeople need to be hunters. They can often be expensive, temperamental, and can burn-out very quickly. It may be better instead to begin with a good solid farmer. Farmers are usually account managers. That is they have a number of existing customers given to them, and look after and get more business out of these accounts. The main difference is that a Hunter can often make their own leads, but a Farmer may need to be given leads. So marketing is needed in conjunction, so that they can take the leads and work them through a pipeline to conclusion. As you can see there are a number of complexities to the aspect of sales, and you will need to give them much consideration to ensure the success of your business. Learn everything you can about sales, salespeople and all the jargon that goes along with it. More than anything this will ensure the success of your business. If you can t do this yourself, be clever admit you can t do it, and hire someone who can. Then spend all of your time learning from them, and understanding how sales fit into your business. Don t be afraid to do some serious research such as these 1 and 2. Expect to go through a number of salespeople. Most good salespeople are only effective selling one type of product or service for 1 to 3 years. After that if they are not bored and wanting to move on, you have to ask yourself if you have made them
12 too comfortable. Finding the right balance means understanding your salesperson very well. Take a lot of time to choose an effective salesperson that will work for your business and will relate well to the type of customers your business will attract. Have them spend a lot of time explaining their previous sales targets, and how they reached them. Have them explain how they will help find customers, and what techniques they can use to bring customers on board. Use your instincts with salespeople, and don t pick the flashy salesperson, but the one that understands and suits your business. If you are going to have separate salespeople to your management, then you will also need to consider who will make a successful manager for your business. That may be you, or perhaps you would rather have someone else looking after the detail so you can concentrate on the overall business. First and foremost a manger is there to look after the people. That s right a manager does stand around telling people off or telling them what to do. If you have the right staff they should know what to do. The manager is there to make sure they have everything they need to be successful, and to help them to all work together effectively as a team. A manager needs to be able to motivate, understand and reward all of your staff. A happy business is a successful business, and for a business to be happy it s people must be happy. That should be the goal of a good manager. This does not mean everyone should not have to do any work. People who understandf their responsibilities, have the resources the need and the motivation to succeed will want to work hard. The manager creates the conditions to ensure this can happen, and to notice when things aren t going right and fix it. A manager needs to be able to understand the business intrinsically, and should have a background in the business. Preferably they will come from a technical background, and then will have gone into sales. If they know both sales and technology, that is the best mix. These are the two main areas of the business to manage, and knowing how to balance them is extremely important. Managing the delivery side of the business means knowing how it works to a detailed level, and ensuring successful processes to ensure SLA s are meet, and a focus on customers and customer service. It also means being able to get the technicians onside and have their respect. They won t respect someone who doesn t understand the technology. It means being able to relate to the technicians and understand their needs. Managing the salespeople is about managing their emotions, as being a salesperson is a highly emotive job, with many ups and downs. A manager will need to understand this and find ways to encourage and motivate the Salesforce. Beating on salespeople s heads with targets, and berating them when they don t make target is the quickest way to de-motivate your Salesforce, and eventually destroy the business. Whoever is managing the salespeople needs to be a very positive person who can run the fine line between ensuring the sales people are driven to succeed, and motivated during trying times, as every salesperson will have.
13 Don t just make yourself manager because it s your business. Have the strength and wisdom to put the people with the right skill sets in the right positions, this is the skill of a good leader. So be very careful in selecting your salespeople and managers, and especially in looking after them once you have found them.
14 6 Financial Summary The financial summary contains a lot of information and it will take time to read through all the information and notes and ensure you are clear on the relationships between them. The most important aspect of the Financial Summary is the Net Profit Margin. This shows the actual profitability of the business, and gives an idea at a glance of how changes to the spreadsheet affect the profitability of the model. Always be sure to look at this figure first if you make any changes. It is not necessary for this to be positive in the first year, but it certainly helps. Make sure however that it does improve in the second and third years. Due to the simple nature of the formula for years 2 and 3, you may see it dip again in year 3, but this is just because the formulas are designed to be conservative. Take some time going through each of the expenses and setting amounts that reflect your business. These can be changed in the boxes down the left hand side with the grey figures. Try to be realistic, as underestimating can be fatal for the business, but also over estimating can be very off-putting as it looks as if the business will never make money simply not the case! It pays to try putting in some over and underestimated figures to watch the effect it has on the model. It costs money to start a business, and because the model allows for growth over time, of course the expenses will be higher than the profits until the sales have grown sufficiently. This means that either you must have money in the bank when you start, or already have some sales to help cover the cost of running the business. If you have money in the bank you can put this into the model by entering it into the Bank row at the bottom of the sheet, in the first box on the left in column B. This will help to cover outgoings while the business gets up and running. If you have existing sales or historically expect sales to come in based on previous months, then you can enter these into the plan. You can put these into row 4. You can put these in on a month by month basis as you may taper them off if you expect the new business to replace the old business model. Either of these aspects will help to cover the expense of running the business while it gets started on the new model. You will see the bank account will fall to a low level until the sales are sufficient to cover the outgoings. You will need to organise a sufficient overdraft with your bank to cover the lowest point in the deficit. Of course the more you have in the bank to start with, and the quicker you bring sales on board, the less overdraft you will need to cover the dip. The cost of Kaseya is included into the model automatically, based on the number of seats you will need over the course of the year outlined in the Sales sheet. This pricing is only to make an allowance, it is not guaranteed to be accurate, and you will need to get a proper quote from a Kaseya sales person. It is enough however to give you an idea of how Kaseya fits into the overall plan for running an MSP business.
15 Conclusion Hopefully this document will give you enough information to make use of the MSP Business Plan to see how it fits your business. This is designed to give you the confidence to move forwarding in implementing this kind of business model, and starting your journey on the road to MSP business success. By joining the Kaseya MSP program you will also have access to further documents that will help you to achieve success by being an MSP. Please contact your salesperson to discuss this plan and your needs further. Good luck in setting up your MSP!