Hi, my name’s Paul Green. I don’t own an MSP / IT support business. This is a strength not a weakness, as it gives me the power of perspective. Yet I do understand the sheer joy (and pure hell) of owning and running a business. In fact, over a decade I grew, then sold a successful B2B marketing company.
I started it in 2005 after having an ‘entrepreneurial seizure’ and quitting my job in the media (I worked in newspapers and radio for 13 years. Great fun). But the story really begins at 6.15pm on Sunday 18th July 2010.
It was a hot Sunday afternoon. And with just one hour’s warning, my wife went into labour and gave birth to our only child, Tilda.
She was an incredible 15 weeks’ premature. And the Special Care Baby Unit doctors warned us she might not survive the night. I’d been a business owner for five years at that point. It was doing OK – I was making a living – but the personal price I was paying was way too high.
I was working stupid hours, 6 days a week, to try to grow the business. I had two staff. But it seemed like nothing really happened unless I personally did it. I had to market the business. Sell to clients. Lead the delivery. Worry about cash flow. The staff got paid before I did (sometimes I went months without pay). Work/life balance was way out of whack.
Sound familiar? It’s a position many business owners find themselves in. But in the long-term it’s not healthy.
Understand this: You’re not going to get to the end of your life, look back, and wish you’d spent more time fixing computers…
Instead, you’ll wish you’d spent more time with your children. Or other half. Or just having more fun – hang gliding; golf; whatever your thing is.
For three months after Tilda’s birth, I focused on my family. I kept in contact with the business, but I wasn’t there – mentally or physically.
Tilda amazed the doctors with her progress, and today is a happy healthy hilarious 7-year-old.
Back to 2010. The day I returned to work after a 3 month break, I was dreading it. Would there be a viable business to return to? Or would it have taken a massive step backwards?
Actually, it was the complete opposite. My two staff had stepped up to the mark, and had replaced me! They were keeping the marketing going, selling to clients and delivering. And do you know what… the business was running more efficiently than when I had been there for 12 hours a day.
I remember feeling a little hurt at first. After all, as business owners, our identity is tied up with our business, right? But I quickly realised how exciting this was.
Because now I had space. To stand back, and work ON the business, rather than IN it.
I stopped going into the office so much, and started working from McDonalds, Costa and Starbucks (anywhere I could get power and Wi-Fi became my office).
I took more time off. I went on more holidays, including a two week cruise with zero internet or phone contact (bliss). In 2012, we moved to a new home an hour away from the office. And I started only going in on Thursday mornings.
Suddenly, I had a business that was there for me. Rather than the other way around. And the growth was impressive every year. From 2010 to 2011 the business grew its turnover by 47%. The year after it grew by 67%.
On the 24th March 2016 I sold the business to a fast growing digital marketing agency for an undisclosed sum.
So what did I actually do to grow the business to the point it could be sold as a profitable, ongoing concern? That’s simple. I focused all my attention on systemising effective marketing, sales and delivery. That’s it.
Now I work with the owners and managers of IT support and IT consultancy companies in the UK. Who want to grow turnover and net profits. And at the same time have a dramatically better work/life balance.
I ‘get’ IT support and love it. When I first started in business, I worked with several MSPs on their marketing. And I believe the opportunity open to you today is unique to this sector.
CRN sales & marketing awards judge
I was a judge for the 2017 CRN sales & marketing awards. It took a vveeerrrryyyy long time to read all of the entries.
My articles on MSP news websites
Every now and then I have an article published on various MSP news websites. Here’s a selection of the most recent articles.
I am a member of CIPR, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
This means I technically have letters after my name. Means nothing to me, but makes my mum proud.
I’m also a member of the FSB. That’s the small business association, not the Russian KGB.