How To Become A $100-Million MSP

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Since taking the helm at mindShift Technologies, a Waltham, Mass.-based MSP in 2003, CEO Paul Chisholm has made acquisitions and created a $100-million company. Along the way, he's learned a few things. He shared some of his experience of creating a "Super MSP" Friday at TruMethods' Schnizzfest conference in Philadelphia.

Chisholm was interviewed at the conference by Gary Pica, CEO of TruMethods and former head of Dynamic Digital Services, one of the companies that mindShift acquired. The following are excerpts from the session.

Many MSPs struggle with finding good talent. How do you find and develop strong employees?

It is tough to find good talent. First, don't hire a resume, hire people. Your first look should be at the individual. I meet all new employees within 30 days, which I think helps set the correct environment to excel. Don't rush them. There's a process to go through to train them. Take the time to do that. The second thing is give constant feedback to people. People like to hear how they're doing.

What are some of the operational challenges you face as you grow and how do you overcome them?

Organizationally, you may need to redo your structure. As you grow, new people will have new responsibilities. What happens is people get sorted into silos. You create all these little silos. Don't make the structure too tight or too big. But the process of reorganization is really a thing you have to do to get scale.

So you apply pure business principles to processes?

What customers don't want to do is rely on a person. A person can change. You have to do more convince them that the company is built upon processes, that there's a process that backs the person up. That will help you in selling process to the customer.

What metrics do you use to measure the company?

There are three kinds of metrics: financial, sales and operational. Break down each category. You can't have 500 metrics. In each one of those categories, what are 10 key metrics to drive business. Then the whole company can focus. What frustrates me is when someone says 'A spreadsheet said that number.' I can see that number. I want to know the logic behind the number. Get down to a unit-based system, like revenue per person, and it's easy to see trends in business.

You have twice as many employees as you did a couple years ago. How does that change the culture of the company?

The biggest thing I had to learn is I had to change the way I managed the business first. All of you know every little component of the business. The more people you find, the more you need to share responsibility. You have to rely on other people to break down the organization so they can have an individual focus at a local level.

Next: Looking Five Years Out

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