At my MSP Mastermind a few weeks ago, one of my clients was talking about the three week break he'd recently taken from his business.
His trip abroad was a combined holiday / working trip. What was really impressive was how he had set up the business to make sure he wasn't interrupted while away.
He replied to a few emails once a day. But didn't have any support calls, or any disruptive calls from the office.
You see, he - like most other MSP owners I deal with - is working hard to remove himself from the day to day clutter.
Sure, someone needs to do first line support. But it doesn't have to be you. I recommend you pick up this mantra and live by it:
You should only do, what only you can do
Assuming your business is mature (3+ years old), that means getting other people to do all the first line support, probably the 2nd line, all the admin, etc etc.
So you can focus on marketing, sales, growing the business - and having an epic life.
Back to the MSP Mastermind. For the benefit of the room, I quizzed my client on exactly what he had done to prepare his business to survive and thrive without him. These were the three key items.
1) It was resourced correctly
After years as an MSP owner, he knows pretty much how much work there is in an average week. And he made sure there was enough resource to handle this comfortably.
If you're a key part of the support team and you go away for a few weeks without covering yourself; you're setting your team up for failure.
Especially because as the business owner, you can do more things and operate at a higher level (for longer) than any of your team can. It's the business's owner's great asset and worst curse.
His team had sufficient resources to get themselves through the break, including some senior technical advice on tap from a non-competing partner MSP, for the situations where they needed a fresh pair of eyes.
2) Clear systems were set up
80% of what happens in your business today will happen tomorrow. And the next day.
So why allow it to continue create chaos and stress? Your goal should be to create as many systems, checklists and standard operating procedures as possible, to remove the headaches of chaos.
After all, SYSTEM is an acronym:
Saves You Stress Time Energy and Money.
My client put in place clear systems to set out the behaviours and actions he expected for most predictable situations.
Combined with a bit of senior help on tap when needed, this was a good mix to allow a competent team to just get on with it, mostly drama-free.
Suggested reading on this: The E-Myth Revisited, and The Checklist Manifesto. My full recommended book list is here.
3) He had clear visiblility
Of course, having a long holiday without being interrupted by your staff isn't just about the way they work.
it's as much about what you do. And how you have set up your holiday.
I once went on a 3 week cruise with no phone and no email. It was bliss. But there were odd moments of immense anxiety where I ran through in my head all the ways the staff could be destroying my business, while I sipped cocktails.
My client uses AutoTask or ConnectWise (I forget which). And because he had ensured the business put every little piece of work into the system, he had full visibility what they were working on.
And you know what? That made him more relaxed than if he'd been in the dark. Because it removed the anxiety that can be created in a void of information.
A pleasant post-script
This experience has taught my client a very valuable lesson: He doesn't need to be there every second, in order for the business to run well.
This is a major mindset shift. I had a similar leap myself in, my last business, around about 2010. I can track back our subsequent growth and ultimate exit right back to that moment of realisation.
You see, I fully expect my client now to spend less time distracted by the daily clutter, and more time working ON the business.
I will be delighted - although not surprised - if he dramatically accelerates his rate of growth in the next 12-18 months.
Because he has created himself:
- Space to think
- Time to Get Things Done
- A business that will ultimately be more enjoyable. Which means he will retain his passion for it
I believe the purpose of any business is to be there for you, and not the other way round. This is a giant leap towards that goal.