5 Things to Consider to Start 2023 Off Strong

We are a few weeks into 2023. Here are a few action items to complete to ensure this year is filled with positivity and growth.

Sales

Have a direct conversation with the prospects in your pipeline. Ask them if they’re going to buy. “Hey, we’ve been talking for a few months. Are you planning to move forward as we start 2023?” Also, review all the prospects that didn’t buy from you last year. Touch base with them, and you’ll find at least one opportunity.

Service delivery

Be sure to schedule any projects you can complete at the beginning of the year or before the end of Q1.

People

Make your employees a priority. If you planned on doing year-end reviews and still need to complete them, set aside time to do them in Q1. Communication with employees is vital to success in the new year.

Planning

Look at your 2022 plan and see how you did against your annual initiatives and goals. At this point, you should already have your 2023 business plan completed or close to completion. Don’t wait to start in February or March.

Time blocking

Now is a great time to use a time-blocking technique for your business and personal commitments. Look at your to-do list — both business and professional — and the remaining days, and block your time accordingly.

Let’s go people! Let’s start 2023 off strong.

Taking Stock: Control What You Can Control

Now is an excellent time of the year to do what I call “taking stock.”

Taking stock means assessing your career, life, health, relationships, financial state, and overall mindset.

Here’s the thing: Life is like a wheel, and that wheel has spokes, many of which you’re familiar with, including physical, emotional, financial, career, family, and spiritual. When a spoke breaks, the wheel starts to wobble. If two spokes break, the ride gets rough. And if another spoke weakens, we tend to ride into a ditch.

We’ve all been in that place where things pile up and affect each other. If you stay in the ditch, that’s called depression. Many things in life that are out of our control impact our wheel. My mom used to say, “No one gets through this life unscathed.”

When taking stock, look closely at the things you can control. For example, my career has been a consistently solid spoke in my wheel, which I’ve protected from other spokes that inevitably failed from time to time.

This time of the year, I like to think about what I can do to strengthen my wheel — and you should do the same. Of course, be realistic.

Like a business plan, you can only change a few things at a time, so I’d recommend picking one or two. Focus on something outside your career that could make a big difference and keep your wheel from veering you off the road.

Taking stock can make all the difference in the new year, so ask yourself, “What can I do in 2023 to stay on track successfully?”

7 Must-Read Blog Posts to Empower Your Business Mind in 2023

It’s true — you’re in the technology business, but what business isn’t a technology company these days? The only way to grow and generate more monthly recurring revenue (MRR) at the right price in the new year isn’t by focusing solely on technology; it’s by understanding how you can be a better business owner for your customers and also your employees.

If I had to guess, you started as a technician, not a business owner. With no business experience, you’ve had to learn a lot. But what matters is you stay curious about what it takes to be the best business owner you can be.

Here are seven must-read blog posts to empower your business mind in 2023.

Does Mindset Really Matter?
Sometimes, we think nothing can be done. It’s even harder to believe that just changing your mindset could be the catalyst for change. However, it’s true.

Are You Prioritizing Mental Health?
We usually — and unfortunately — overlook mental health when running our businesses. Instead of caring for ourselves and our employees’ mental well-being, we tend to focus more on day-to-day operations and generating new revenue streams. While this is the norm, it’s not sustainable in the long run.

If Nothing Changes, What Will Change?
My dad said, “If nothing changes, then what will change?” Too often in business and life, we fool ourselves by thinking that our results will change if our intentions change.

Employee Burnout: What You Should Know
There’s been a lot of talk about employee burnout recently. With the labor shortage not improving, employers are demanding more from their employees, negatively impacting employee morale and productivity. Identifying employee burnout and preventing it from happening in the first place can make all the difference.

5 Things to Consider When Creating Your Business Plan
Do you have a business plan? If so, do you have one that’s making you do something differently? If not, success will be out of reach. An effective business plan is actionable. It provides you with steps to achieving your goals. It also provides a way for you to achieve not only your personal financial goals but also your company’s financial goals. There are several things to consider when building your business plan.

MSPs, Here’s Your Reality Check
Please think back to before the pandemic began in March 2020. How have your customers’ needs changed? What are you doing for them today that you weren’t doing then? What tools have you added to your stack? What security process and governance have you added?

Is Time Your Friend?
I’ve mentioned this before, but I like to archive all the notes from my audio messages. I’ve been doing this since I started recording weekly audio messages for TruMethods members in 2009. At the beginning of this year, I decided to time travel.

Three Awesome Q&As With TruMethods’ Members From 2022

Whether on the road or in my office, I make it a point to speak with as many managed service providers (MSPs) as possible. By doing this, I get a better grasp of what they’re struggling with, what TruMethods and its peer groups can do better to assist them with overcoming those challenges and how the industry can adapt to changing times.

Sometimes, we at TruMethods even interview our members for the TruMethods blog. Many of the interviews have received overwhelmingly positive responses from our members.

Here are the top three TruMethods member Q&As you may have missed in 2022.

TruMethods Member Q&A: Peer groups help MSPs “work smarter, not harder”

MSPs are usually hesitant about joining peer groups. They question the value, the time commitment and the time requirements. We are at a pivotal time in the MSP industry. Things are changing fast, and business leaders need more knowledge and perspective. Now is a great time to consider joining an industry peer group. In this interview, Adam M. Casgar, president of Coastal Computer Consulting, LLC, a Brunswick, Georgia-based MSP, shared why MSPs should join peer groups if they want to work smarter, not harder, and why peers are the furthest thing from multilevel marketing (MLM).

TruMethods Member Q&A: “TruPeer means opportunity and growth”

While TruPeer may mean something different to each one of its members, those who get the most out of TruMethods’ most popular peer group find they’re strategically aligned with TruPeer. During this conversation, Ed Lukacs, CEO of 2Fifteen Tech, a Salt Lake City-based MSP, revealed how his business has benefitted from TruPeer, how it is different than other peer groups in the industry and what he’s learned from fellow TruPeer members.

TruMethods Member Q&A: Why TruPeer is like a gym membership

“What you put into life is what you get out of it.” — The same can be said about gym memberships, music lessons and TruPeer. In this interview, Roger Michelson, CEO of BNMC, a Woburn, MA-based MSP and TruMethods member, explained how TruMethods and its TruPeer program have helped him overcome business challenges, what MSPs should know about Smart Numbers and the importance of proper business planning.

Top 6 TruMethods Sales Blogs Posted in 2022

By now, you’re wrapping up another year of selling. So, how did you do? Be honest with yourself.

Did you generate new monthly recurring revenue (MRR) at the right price every month? Did you hit your quarterly sales goals? Did you diversify your customer base? How does your sales pipeline look for 2023?

Now, even if you surpassed your expectations for this year, there’s always room for improvement. Before heading into 2023, take this month to review how you can amp up your sales efforts.

To help, here are six sales blog posts you may have missed in 2022.

No More “Goose Eggs”

One of our mottos in TruPeer is “no goose eggs.” We use the term “goose egg” to refer to a company that goes an entire quarter without adding new monthly recurring revenue sales. In other words, no new customers at the right price. There is no reason for any MSP that works with TruMethods to ever have a goose egg.

Are You Sure You’re Ready to Hire an MSP Salesperson?

Our target markets have improved in every way. The sweet spots for the number of users in our target customers are rising. (Even our seat prices are increasing!). More targets willing to pay more for our services is an excellent market to be in — but how do we capitalize on this?

Are All Your Eggs in One MSP Basket?

Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good strategy. It’s always best to diversify most aspects of your business, especially your customer base. Most of us have been there before. We score a big customer and tout it as a big win, which is a significant milestone for your business. Landing a whale can completely change your business, although not always for the better.

Struggling With MSP Sales? It May Be Time to Reevaluate Your Go-to-Market Strategy

Most MSPs struggle with sales, specifically the ability to add new monthly recurring revenue at the right price. The root cause of MSP sales struggles is a weak go-to-market strategy. Our business model is, as you know, very forgiving. It forgives many sins because we sell recurring revenue, and the average lifetime value of our customers is high. However, as our industry matures, your go-to-market motion must also mature.

Cybersecurity Sales: Which MSP Are You?

MSPs are making cybersecurity sales harder than it needs to be. In fact, I hesitate to use the word “sales” because that is the center of the problem – customers feel like you’re trying to sell to them. You shouldn’t be selling customer security enhancements or projects. Instead, you should be taking your customers and prospects on their security journey. You need to develop a repeatable way of explaining the risks and opportunities that your customers will face.

Generating MSP Leads: Building Your Presence in Your Community

Marketing is still one of the top challenges managed services providers (MSPs) face today. When you’re a one-person shop, marketing sometimes falls by the wayside since there are typically urgent matters to tackle. However, if you don’t have a presence in your community, someone eventually will.

6 Cybersecurity Blogs You May Have Missed in 2022

Cybersecurity remains top-of-mind for many managed services providers (MSPs). According to a Kaseya survey, 50% of MSPs said their business is at greater risk of cybercrime than one year ago — an 11% increase from 2021’s data. However, cybersecurity is also a revenue driver for those same MSPs, and ignoring the opportunity to grow monthly recurring revenue (MRR) at the right price could prove disastrous.

While nobody can predict what the future has in store for the cybersecurity space, there are some trends to look out for in the new year, including the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), the expansion of attack surfaces and the growing need for cybersecurity services. Before tackling the issues of 2023, close out your year by reviewing the top cybersecurity concerns of 2022.

Here are six cybersecurity blogs you may have missed in 2022.

Mapping Your APIs Could Reduce Your Attack Surface
MSPs today have many more tools and technology than ever before. Most of these tools provide integrations to other tools, which are, of course, done through APIs. While integration can improve efficiency and make a technician’s job easier, it can also create additional security risks.

We’re Still Talking About Patching?
After 20 years, we’re still talking about patching. How is that possible? On The CyberCall, a weekly MSP cybersecurity podcast, we discussed common threats and breaches. An Incident Response (IR) expert said that the majority of breaches can be traced back to something being unpatched.

Russia Invades Ukraine: What’s the Impact on MSPs?
You’ve probably heard about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by now. This war is being fought on multiple fronts, one of which is cyber. Russian hackers are launching an all-out assault on key Ukrainian government, banking and infrastructure targets. Experts expect these attacks to escalate in Europe and the U.S. as well.

Cybersecurity Sales: Which MSP Are You?
MSPs are making cybersecurity sales harder than they need to be. You shouldn’t be selling customer security enhancements or projects. Instead, you should be taking your customers and prospects along on their security journey. You need to develop a repeatable way of explaining the risks and opportunities that your customers will face.

Cleaning House: Cybersecurity Hygiene for MSPs
Cybersecurity hygiene best practices require MSPs to not just implement technologies but also sustainable processes that can be relied on over time. Today, installing a piece of software and considering the job done will simply not suffice. After all, you can’t clean your house once and expect it to remain tidy and sanitary indefinitely, right? The same goes for cybersecurity — consider this a healthy living approach to security.

Protect Your Clients From Business Email Compromise Attacks
Business email compromise (BEC) attacks are some of the costliest cybercrimes companies face today. BEC attacks involve criminals impersonating a legitimate email account and using it to send messages that appear to come from a known source. Stopping these types of attacks requires a high level of visibility into email traffic and the ability to respond rapidly to suspicious activity.

No More “Goose Eggs”!

One of our mottos in TruPeer is “no goose eggs.” We use the term “goose egg” to refer to a company that goes an entire quarter without adding new monthly recurring revenue sales. In other words, no new customers at the right price.

Through the years, we’ve tried many ways to motivate our Peer members to avoid the dreaded goose egg. One of my ideas a few years ago was that anyone with a goose egg would get tasered at the next Peer meeting. As you may have guessed, legal shot that one down. At our most recent meeting in October, we came up with a stroke of genius. If you get a goose egg in a quarter, you must get a goose egg tattoo. Awesome, right? Then I thought, wait, even better, what if everyone in your company, the entire company, had to get a goose egg tattoo? Boom! No more goose eggs ever!

Listen, we have fun with this, but there’s some real truth here. And it’s this: There is no reason for any MSP that works with TruMethods to ever have a goose egg. If you go for three months or more with no new customers (a good customer that pays your price), you must take a step back.

You must be self-aware! Growing your company is not as much of a priority as you may be telling yourself, or you just don’t know what to do or are unwilling to do it to get results. All of this is fixable.

The issue may be a level of accountability to get yourself moving in the right direction. If you spend time every week on a few basic actions for two or three months, it would be impossible to ever have a goose egg again.

Stay tuned for my next blog post to learn more about what you can do to avoid goose eggs.

Does Mindset Really Matter?

Sometimes, we think something can’t be done. It’s even harder to believe that just changing your mindset could be the catalyst for change. However, it’s true.

I see this happening with our TruMethods members all the time. For instance, one of our TruPeer members struggled with support desk ticket efficiency for years. This individual’s team would average 80 open tickets at the end of the day; eventually, this member held a team meeting, and all agreed to take on a one-touch close mindset. They agreed to do everything possible not to exit a ticket without closing it. It forced the team to think differently and make other small changes to accomplish this. The result is this — they now have just 16 tickets open at the end of the day.

From 80 to 16 — think about that.

I’m sure no one on that team thought that just a change in mindset could make such a dramatic change. It seems illogical if you don’t understand how a change in mindset allows you to change focus, accountability and results.

I hear so many examples of what MSPs think they can’t do. “I can’t sell new MRR.” “We can’t close that many tickets.” “We don’t bill that much in professional services.” “We can’t command those prices.” “We can’t reduce the number of tickets per seat.”

Think about an area of the business holding you back regarding growth and profitability, and then ask, “Can I change my mindset?”

Start Prioritizing the MSP Planning Process Today

Many business leaders finish their business planning too late. When you don’t prioritize the planning process, it impacts not only your bottom line but also the culture of your teams.

Instead, make a conscious effort to think about the planning process throughout the year. Ideally, devote at least one full day per quarter to planning, another to annual planning and a day each year to long-term planning.

Also, remember that business planning should trickle down to every person in the company. It’s not just for business owners. Department heads, team leads and individual contributors should also take part. Why? A company needs a plan, a department or delivery area requires a plan, and every team member needs a plan. For individuals, what are your goals for growth and training advancement? What key metrics do you need to be accountable for? Everyone needs to understand how their role impacts the business.

I’ll give you two examples. I was talking to a group of inside salespeople from MSPs, and I asked them, “How many of you know the annual MRR sales goal for the company?” Most didn’t know — think about that. These guys are sitting around all day and dialing phones, and they don’t even know why (What’s ironic is their bosses are the ones who are telling me how hard inside sales is.)

Here’s another example. Do your support desk people understand Picanomics? Have you explained the impact of support desk efficiency and what it means to the business model? All of this is critical! Tickets closed, seats managed and MRR per support resource are significant drivers.

Most importantly, if your team understands the model, they will find solutions you may never think of. They’ll also feel connected to the company, the team and the mission. If not, they’re closing endless tickets, just like the inside salesperson feels like they’re doing infinite dials.

Let’s go people! This is how a business plan can come alive and change a culture.

Are You Making the Most of Q4 2022?

Q4 is here once again! Can you believe it?

If there’s one quarter where you want to fully execute all your initiatives, it’s Q4. Now, I would prefer you execute for four quarters, of course, but if you make me pick one, I will always choose Q4.

First of all, Q4 is selling season. It’s our chance to add new monthly recurring revenue (MRR), meaning new customers and additional MRR to existing customers (this way we can recognize 100% of the revenue sold in Q4 in 2023). Q4 is also when we look at our annual plan and ensure we complete any remaining yearly priorities and initiatives. It’s also when we should work on our 2023 plan.

Your role in your business is probably the same as the first three quarters of this year. So, how do you do your full-time job, dedicate more time to sales, spend time planning and get the remaining annual initiatives done?

Here are a few suggestions. First, start today by blocking time on your schedule for the rest of the year for all the items I just mentioned. Next, figure out who else in your organization can help delegate and implement accountability. Then, as you plan 2023, start with defining your role in the company that you would like to build and delegate all tasks that are not in that new job description to other people. Finally, each morning before your workday starts, take an extra minute to set your attitude and intention for the day. You don’t need to have a great attitude every day of your life — just today.

Even though Q4 has just begun, the holiday season is quickly approaching and it’s the shortest quarter to do business. Don’t waste any time dragging your feet.

Start executing today, people!