The Pain of Not Growing
By Dave Cava, Executive Coach

Growing an MSP is hard.  There will be guaranteed growing pains for most.  Bad hires.  Client attrition.  Losing good employees.  Collections.  Lawyers. Taxes.  Screaming clients.  Managing difficult people.  Firing people you’d rather not.  As Mr. T said in Rocky III, “The prediction?  Pain.”  The good news is that growing an MSP can be like a tough workout or passing a kidney stone – there can be health and the opportunity to thrive and prosper on the other side of the pain.

Trust me, growing pains are the kind of pain you want.  Growing pains can lead to more revenue, more profit, more valuation, more notoriety, more self-esteem, and even more free time and lifestyle flexibility.  The rewards of owning a growing business can be great.

Growing pains are far preferrable to “not growing pains”.

On a regularly basis I speak with owners of businesses that have never really scaled.  Some of them have had their business for decades.  They are proud to own a business and they’ve put in a lot of hard work.  They like the idea of not having a boss.  But their lives look like they have a terrible boss: they are overworked and underpaid and never truly off from work.  Some can’t even vacation with their families.  Every significant problem in the business falls squarely on their shoulders.  If they are truly able to delegate anything at all, they are one step away from those tasks falling right back into their lap.  Most of them eventually become burnt out and feel trapped.

Sometimes fear holds them back.  Fear of asking clients to standardize their technology or pay more money.  Fear of hiring someone and being responsible for their salary.  Fear that sales and marketing efforts will come up empty.  Fear of anything that could result in the them taking home one dollar less.

What they should be most afraid of is fear of any or all of those things keeping them from growing.  They should fear becoming that trapped, burnt out, stuck person.

There are a number of other things that can stunt growth.  Some owners like being Superman – they derive much of their personal worth from personally servicing clients and being “the man” (or woman).  They fool themselves into thinking that their clients are hiring a company, but in reality they are hiring a person.  Some can’t face the fact that they are actually in love with technology and not with running a business or building a team.  Some just can’t let go of anything.  Some won’t listen to advice and just despise any kind of truly strategic planning.  All of these ways of thinking will catch up with them, because the pain of not growing comes for everyone who doesn’t figure out how to grow a team that will share in the responsibilities of the company.

Entrepreneurship is not for the timid.  It is not for those who are afraid to fail.  It is for those who view failure as a speedbump, not a cliff.  MSPs are not meant to be one person shows.  If you’re not planning on growing your MSP, don’t start one.  Get some paying gigs or take a job.  You’ll be happier.