and failure!  In my experience there are a few to think about.  See below.

I’m assuming that most small and medium sized IT companies are run by Technical people who’ve grown into the CEO/Managing Director role, much as I did myself.

Technical skills are a given then!  So, in order to be successful at the MSP game that leaves:

  • Operational Experience – how can you plug this gap?  Perhaps by following many of the MSP sites, accreditation’s, Yahoo news groups, etc.  From these you’ll find decent resources to tune and scale you technical operation …… to some degree.  Personally, I don’t particularly agree with the angle some of the software vendors take.
  • Marketing Skills – I think these are key.  There are a few MSP focused resources about like Robin Robins, etc.  But I think it’s worthwhile for guys running these companies to try, experience, learn and get a good understanding about how to market your IT company.  I worry about whether or not these highly mechanistic and occasionally fairly aggressive marketing ‘toolkits’ translate to Europe and indeed if they work at all.  Personally, I’m a keen devotee of the Seth Godin approach.
  • Sales Skills – Funnily enough, many technical guys, in my experience make excellent sales guys.  They are all solution builders by nature and fall naturally in to ‘consultative selling’.  I purposely used to play the technical guy first, sales guy second angle as you can fly in under the radar without your customer getting his ‘Salesman detector’ activated.
  • Leadership Skills – I learned some along the way.  I’ve only really got three things to say here:
    ◦ Take on the best people you can afford.  Best in terms of attitude first, skills second.
    ◦ Be honest at all times to staff, customers, suppliers, everyone.
    ◦ Read Gung Ho!