As a small business owner, you may be wondering what a “Managed IT Service Provider” (or MSP for short) even is, or what we do.
A good MSP effectively functions as a business owner’s Swiss Army knife. Using technology to solve problems both current and future, and greasing the wheels of daily operations. By taking away all the miscellaneous and unnecessary complications; the ones you never thought about back when your business was just a dream, a business owner is able to better focus on growing their business.
To understand how we do this, and why it’s important, we first need to talk about what it takes to run a business.
Let’s talk about running a business…
Let’s imagine for a moment that you have a small business. You have been running the business for a couple of years and things are going well! Like most businesses, yours has a couple of key electronic components that function as the cornerstone of everything else.
For a doctor, this could be an X-ray machine and the database used to store the X-rays.
For an accountant, it is undoubtedly the computers you use for an accounting program such as Quickbooks, as well as a network where ledgers can be stored, shared and manipulated in tandem.
For a bakery, this is probably the system you use to keep track of inventory, sales orders, and shipping information.
In today’s advanced age of technology, almost every business will have SOME reliance on systems and networks. This probably isn’t news to anyone, but what’s important is understanding why.
The reason people who run small businesses usually rely on some form of technology is because technology is efficient. The technologies are commonplace because it is common sense that you would use a machine to do things (things that it often does in fractions of a second) that would otherwise constitute hours, days, or even weeks of work.
So naturally, people who wish to get things done gravitate towards solutions that make sense in the context of efficiency. Any successful medium-sized business owner can tell you that efficiency is one of the heaviest hitters when it comes to being profitable.
The formula is something along the lines of:
How much money making product/service can be provided (and be provided well) within the scope of the resources currently accumulated.
Naturally, you would work this formula for as long as you can before deciding to scale up. Again, the things we’ve said might not be news to any business owner. It is, after all, how you grow a business.
But there is another level to the application of efficiency in the business growing concept. It may sound a little silly, but you can actually apply efficiency to the act of applying efficiency.
How does that work?
Well, it has to do with how you scale up. If you are going to spend your money, then you want to spend it as effectively as possible, right? You want to have as many current and potential issues covered as possible with your budget.
This is where an MSP like Tech Hero comes in. The companies that provide software and hardware for the purpose of supporting businesses. Everything you could ever possibly need can certainly be provided for, but there are a couple of problems that need to be solved first.
The very first problem you will run into while trying to spend your money effectively is the “out of sight, out of mind” problem. What do you actually need? You need to take inventory of all the things you wish you could extricate yourself from having to do to keep your business running.
A good MSP can help with that. In our case, we would send out a skilled technician who would be able to walk through everything with you. By asking the right questions and hearing your thoughts, they would then come up with some ideas about what would be the most effective way to apply some new technology, smoothing out your daily operations.
The second problem you will run into is figuring out who you need to provide what.
The list of potential solutions for problems a business might have is practically endless. Almost every solution has multiple companies that provide for it, each with their own ideas and pricing. It could take a single person months to try to dig up all that information on their own. Again, the keyword is efficiency.
A good MSP can save the day here. With all of these resources already compiled and available to us, and are able to quickly sift through the list you and our technician come up with to find the short-list of solutions providers appropriate for your unique situation. Once you have that list, you are over the second hurdle.
The third problem is likely the most time consuming for someone trying to do these things by themselves.
Price. It’s only a “short-list” because it’s shorter than the full one. There will still be many different products from many different companies that will be applicable to any situation, and, as we mentioned before, they will each have their own idea of what it should cost. If efficiency is what you are after, then you would have to try and get comparable information from each company to compare against the rest.
There is nothing efficient about trying to do all of that by yourself.
Let an MSP like Tech Hero deal with this for you. Not only will a good MSP be able to make the comparisons for you, but if they are like us, their relationships with suppliers will get you even better deals than you would get from them directly. Imagine that. Paying less for something because you had somebody do something for you.
That could quite literally be the definition of the word Efficient.
Retro-active Problem Solving?
Since we’ve talked a little bit about why an MSP is useful in the context of improving and scaling your business, now is probably a good time to mention another word. A word that is undoubtedly as important to the continuity of a successful business as the word efficiency.
Efficiency is important for obvious reasons, and the process for attaining it is relatively straightforward. Find problems, fix problems. Security on the other hand, is a little more ephemeral. So to understand why security is important, we should look at cause and effect, but in reverse.
Let’s set the scene:
You own a business and it’s doing pretty well. Your margins have been looking good and you’ve built up a nice little fund to set aside for emergencies. After all, you never know when disaster might strike……and it does.
You wake up one morning and head to the office. You open up your computer, and are greeted by a strange message. You try to close the message, but you can’t. A timer counts down on the screen in red numbers as you continue to fiddle with the keyboard. When you finally stop to read the message, it all clicks into place.
You’ve been hacked.
You’ve probably heard about this on the news before. Companies getting the entirety of their electronic systems completely locked up and held for ransom by hackers demanding obscene sums of money, and threatening to delete all of it if they aren’t paid in 48 hours.
The effect of having all of your files, data, and electronic records deleted is essentially a death sentence for a business of any size that isn’t properly protected. In the scene, you have some money set aside for emergencies.
But do you have $200,000?
A study last year found that in 2021, 66% of all small businesses were the target of cyberattacks. That same study also found that the average cost of a successful cyberattack for a small business was over $200,000. A number like that is enough to turn any small business owner pale.
You can’t afford to have your data erased, and you can’t afford to pay the hacker in the hopes that he releases your files. So what do you do?
You get in front of it. The story we just told you is a true story experienced by business owners every single day. It’s a story about how a single lack of foresight into the cyber-security of your business is the kind of mistake you don’t get a chance to learn from. An MSP can help with all the things you need for the security side as well.
We will go further into the specifics of what improving your cyber-security entails in a future post.
The journey to reach true efficiency and maximizing your capabilities as a business is not a simple task. Neither is protecting your business and customers going into the future. There are many things that need to be taken into account, and you are almost certainly going to need some help. So make sure the help comes from someone you can trust to do the job right and have your best interests in mind.
Here at Tech Hero, we can say with confidence that the kind of someone you should be looking for in an MSP includes us.
We hope this has helped to generally answer some of the questions you may have about what a Managed IT Service Provider actually does and what to expect when working with one, look forward to working with you!