I'm throwing around the idea of starting a Tech business



  • I'm looking at starting a side business. I know there are a lot of MSPs on here that do a little bit of everything. I really want to concentrate on AD, Exchange, and WSUS, and other Microsoft products. I have a ton of experience doing Microsoft setups for different environments.

    Since MSPs are a dime a dozen and their skill sets vary as you can see on SW (not here). What can I do to really show my experience in my field. I don't plan to be the cheapest around because really take pride in my work and I feel my clients should pay for my experience.

    I thought I knew a lot a couple years ago but posting on SW and manolassi daily has really honed my skills.

    I am not looking to work a ton of hours. I would rather work with a few clients and give them the quality work they deserve. I believe documentation is so key. If you follow me SW you will see that. I want my clients to be proud of my work and documentation.

    My question is this can I throw a small net (MS skills) and go for a few big fish or do I have to throw a large net and go for numbers? Most people do the second option and learn as they go. Is there a market for a MSP with a niche?



  • Nearly all MSPs focus on a single skill set. Doing broad skills is almost unheard of, at NTG we never run into competitors with our breadth, it just doesn't happen. It takes a large staff and a lot of resources to support a lot of different things. We also find that large geographic support areas and around the clock support are rare. We put all three together... hence our slogan Embracing Every Business. Every Technology. Everywhere.

    How most MSPs are successful is focusing on a small technology range in a mostly local area. It is extremely costly to attempt anything else.



  • @scottalanmiller what is the most effective way to get your name out there?

    What type of business would you recommend as my target group? I am a thinking 50-200 nodes. In my experience and seeing a bunch of really small business posts on SW, it seems that companies that less have less than 50 nodes are not generally IT minded and only spend the minimum amount of money they can



  • Maybe this is a better question, if you were in my shoes and wanted to pick up a few hours a night, who would be your target customers?



  • @IRJ said:

    if you were in my shoes and wanted to pick up a few hours a night,?

    Why would someone want to hire you when you're only available a few hours a night? Especially if you are an MSP for them? They are probably going to want 4 hour response.. and demand day time hours.



  • @IRJ said:

    @scottalanmiller what is the most effective way to get your name out there?

    What type of business would you recommend as my target group? I am a thinking 50-200 nodes. In my experience and seeing a bunch of really small business posts on SW, it seems that companies that less have less than 50 nodes are not generally IT minded and only spend the minimum amount of money they can

    There is no good one. Companies that need MSPs have no idea how to find them. You are correct, there is no money to be made attempting to convince tiny companies to do the right thing. They have no interest in it nor do they have any great needs. If you only have ten people, it is trivial to make do with whatever.



  • @IRJ said:

    Maybe this is a better question, if you were in my shoes and wanted to pick up a few hours a night, who would be your target customers?

    I wouldn't. Sorry, but that would be the answer. A few hours at night means you are stuck with tiny customers and will have a horrible time retaining them. Who can hire IT only at night? No real business. Maybe you will get lucky and find someone who can pass you a little work and doesn't need you to be on call or available during business hours, but that is very rare.



  • @Dashrender said:

    @IRJ said:

    if you were in my shoes and wanted to pick up a few hours a night,?

    Why would someone want to hire you when you're only available a few hours a night? Especially if you are an MSP for them? They are probably going to want 4 hour response.. and demand day time hours.

    Yes, daytime hours are the most important ones. Anyone's IT "friend" will do after hours work for them, it's the full time daytime stuff that they struggle to hire. The market is saturated with off hours work.



  • Keep in mind that supporting Microsoft as a "specialty" does not differentiate you. It makes you a commodity. Now, in the SMB market, nearly everything is commodity, so that isn't as horrible as it sounds. But be aware that you will be exactly like everyone else. Windows, AD, Exchange... this is the support list for every MSP I've ever heard of.



  • Perhaps just picking up some off-hours contract work for server maintenance may be a decent way to go? You'd get exposure to other environments, likely bigger ones, and get paid to do it. You'd also be free to work your day job without being impeded by your side work. You could also sign up with Onforce and keep an eye out for evening jobs.



  • I'd be interested in ad-hoc consultancy on a pay by the hour basis. I don't see how you can offer a fully managed service only out of hours though.

    I'm not sure it would work for us with you living on a different continent though :(. If I was looking for remote support from overseas, I assume I'd better off looking at India rather than US for cost reasons. But you never know.



  • @alexntg said:

    Perhaps just picking up some off-hours contract work for server maintenance may be a decent way to go? You'd get exposure to other environments, likely bigger ones, and get paid to do it. You'd also be free to work your day job without being impeded by your side work. You could also sign up with Onforce and keep an eye out for evening jobs.

    That's kind of what I was aiming for. Maintaining WSUS, packages, and etc

    I am already talking to a potential client about doing an exchange upgrade. Which would need to be done after hours anyway.



  • @IRJ said:

    @alexntg said:

    Perhaps just picking up some off-hours contract work for server maintenance may be a decent way to go? You'd get exposure to other environments, likely bigger ones, and get paid to do it. You'd also be free to work your day job without being impeded by your side work. You could also sign up with Onforce and keep an eye out for evening jobs.

    That's kind of what I was aiming for. Maintaining WSUS, packages, and etc

    I am already talking to a potential client about doing an exchange upgrade. Which would need to be done after hours anyway.

    Just make sure to take a few days off from your day job for go-live.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'd be interested in ad-hoc consultancy on a pay by the hour basis. I don't see how you can offer a fully managed service only out of hours though.

    I'm not sure it would work for us with you living on a different continent though :(. If I was looking for remote support from overseas, I assume I'd better off looking at India rather than US for cost reasons. But you never know.

    US is cheaper than UK. A lot if companies outsource from UK to the US. Like the Canary Wharf firms who want the legal protection and skilled workers and communications skills of the US.

    You can always get a firm that is in all three and get a blend of needs. That's by far the best.



  • @IRJ said:

    @alexntg said:

    Perhaps just picking up some off-hours contract work for server maintenance may be a decent way to go? You'd get exposure to other environments, likely bigger ones, and get paid to do it. You'd also be free to work your day job without being impeded by your side work. You could also sign up with Onforce and keep an eye out for evening jobs.

    That's kind of what I was aiming for. Maintaining WSUS, packages, and etc

    I am already talking to a potential client about doing an exchange upgrade. Which would need to be done after hours anyway.

    Project work yes. Can happen. But the sales overhead of project work is insane.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'd be interested in ad-hoc consultancy on a pay by the hour basis. I don't see how you can offer a fully managed service only out of hours though.

    The Continuum RMM platform offers a full service desk which via remote takes care of the clients for you.



  • @technobabble said:

    @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'd be interested in ad-hoc consultancy on a pay by the hour basis. I don't see how you can offer a fully managed service only out of hours though.

    The Continuum RMM platform offers a full service desk which via remote takes care of the clients for you.

    Yes, it's like a built in offshoring solution. It's really for people who want to be business and sales people and don't want to be technical.



  • @scottalanmiller, Continuum had told me it uses only US staffing for service desk.



  • @technobabble said:

    @scottalanmiller, Continuum had told me it uses only US staffing for service desk.

    Maybe.... I've never tested them. But their business model makes it seem unlikely.



  • what's their pricing structure?



  • Desktops are between $12-$20 per month. $20 is for 24/7 support. Server is between $15 to $40. Choices are NOC messages you, NOC proactively addresses issues or assign tasks to NOC. Another cool thing is the ability to hire out Continuum for one time tasks.



  • that just seems like a revenue eater.



  • @Hubtech said:

    that just seems like a revenue eater.

    Depends on your goal. Are you an IT guy look for a way to work? Then it makes no sense because what you do and what they do overlap.

    Are you a business / sales guy who wants to own a business but don't want to do IT? Then you need a service like this.



  • @Hubtech said:

    that just seems like a revenue eater.

    It's a great option for businesses that specialize in engineering/project services, but also need to offer end-to-end support.



  • @Hubtech said:

    that just seems like a revenue eater.

    When they told me they offered this, I was but I do that. He said are you planning on hiring anyone? I said NO. He said at some point you will need this service if you don't hire employees. NOW that is cheaper than employees!



  • yeah, maybe true.



  • Anyone interested in a big Exchange Upgrade for a hospital? I have a contact there and I was told another MSP quoted around $9k for labor. I have the experience for doing the actual work. I just dont have a system in place yet. I would like to work with someone if anyone is interested.

    They are migrating from Exchange 2003 to 2010



  • We have the ability to do that.



  • How many mailboxes? Are they moving to O365 or another inhouse Exchange server?

    $9K could be a pretty good price depending on so many factors.



  • @Dashrender said:

    How many mailboxes? Are they moving to O365 or another inhouse Exchange server?

    $9K could be a pretty good price depending on so many factors.

    Right! It could also be way lowball. Being medical, there's encryption and DLP requirements to contend with, as well as message retention and granular message recovery. Also, if it's a 100-person hospital, or 20,000, not to mention if the contractor's doing the actual move, or if they're just doing setup and basic training.


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