Starting a new business can be a daunting task, whether you’re a sole-proprietor or a VC-backed startup. If a new business owner asked me for my very best piece of advice it would be: Don’t try to do everything yourself. Unfortunately, younger me would not have heeded my advice. I suspect most business owners and operators come to this conclusion eventually, whether they are sole entrepreneurs or venture capital budgeteers. It’s important to let the experts shine.
One of your key business partners will be your IT Service provider, I guarantee you this. Establish a relationship with your favorite IT service provider or MSP as soon as possible at the outset. Things may start out simple, but before you know it your IT requirements will become overwhelming. Buying a domain name: Easy. Setting up DNS: OK, I can figure this out. Establishing data retention and data loss prevention strategies: Uh, ok, HELP!
You need an MSP and the full spectrum of services they offer: Virtual CIO; Help Desk; Systems Admin; Cybersecurity.
What Is An “MSP” and What Can They Do For Me?
Managed Service Providers, or MSPs, are IT support companies that are composed of a multitude of IT experts. Here’s how that stacks.
VCIO: At the top level of an MSP are IT Managers. These people have many years of experience to draw from and view your IT from the perspective of the VCIO (Virtual Chief Information Officer). They’re right there with you at the drawing table helping you develop your IT infrastructure, participating in planning meetings, and finding software solutions that meet your business needs. One of the jobs of the VCIO is to continuously assess your IT, because more than likely you don’t have time to do this. Another important function of the VCIO is as a 3rd party liaison.
Systems Administrator: This person directly manages machine configurations and reports to the VCIO and management at the client company. They perform recurring maintenance jobs, fulfill project milestones, and ensure business needs are translated into technology solutions.
Help Desk: This is your first line of contact. Whether you need VCIO or Sysadmin or just need someone to fix your computer, this is where you start. Help desk professionals immediately acknowledge your request and set it to resolve your stated problems. In almost all cases, someone at a higher level has oversight of the issue.
Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM): A good MSP has a dedicated 24/7 NOC (Network Operations Center) to oversee and monitor a mix of 3rd party services. These include endpoint management and endpoint security agents. The MSP installs software on your company computers which allows for centralized management, policy enforcement, service monitoring, uptime monitoring, cybersecurity monitoring.
Benefits of Partnering with an Managed Services Provider (MSP)
Working with an MSP will allow you to set a budget for IT solutions based on your requirements and available cash flow. The day to day management of your IT comes at a fixed monthly rate, typically well below the cost of hiring a single entry-level IT person internally. With an MSP, you get decades of experience and access to a bevy of talented people and other resources. You get a lot of bang for your buck!
Dedicated Support and Single Point of Contact
MSPs have dedicated support staff who can help solve the problems of your employees. Employees at your organization can contact them if they encounter a problem. You can expect faster response times from them with some MSPs offering 24x7 support. Your MSP will have access to your DNS provider, your Internet Provider, your Web provider, your Email provider, your hardware manufacturer, Microsoft, Google, AWS, Apple, and the vendor list goes on. The point is that you don’t have to figure out who to contact. You just contact your MSP Help Desk and the MSP takes it from there. They’re your IT department!
Managed service providers have long-standing working relationships with technology solution providers like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, and so on. We know where to find answers and who to ask for help.
Compliance and Cybersecurity
IT solutions providers can manage the compliance requirements of your startup. Many startups in New York must comply with PCI and/or the HIPAA Security Rule. This is a continuous cycle of assessment and remediation. Typically a third party will assess and ask the questions and MSP (IT Provider) will analyze and respond to the questions. Typically non-IT people do not know how to respond to these questions nor how to make changes that will satisfy security requirements.
Cybersecurity attacks can lead to loss of data - a violation of data privacy laws. IT solution providers can mitigate this problem by implementing hardware and software solutions like firewalls and multi-factor authentication to protect your systems from attacks and keep your client and user data protected.
A good MSP keeps informed of emerging threats in cybersecurity. You definitely want to fill this role in your new company.
In the initial phase of growth, the technology requirements of your organization can change very quickly. Your startup may have the need to migrate data to a new cloud system, improve compliance, offer new software solutions, grow teams, deploy satellite offices, and so on. Without professional support, it can be difficult to determine what IT solutions your company needs. An IT solutions provider can help create an IT roadmap for your startup. An IT roadmap is a strategic technology plan that shares the IT initiatives that need to be taken to meet the growing demands of your company.
There’s a lifecycle to all aspects of IT. There will be hardware upgrades and refreshes, software upgrades, transitions from one technology to another. All of this can be tracked, planned, and budgeted. A great MSP will provide this insight. This will be a continuous cycle of assessment, planning, recommendations, budgeting, purchasing, project management, and deployment. Again, it’s best to have an experienced IT partner from the get-go. Start the process early on, so you won’t be surprised when you hit that next growth phase.
Outsourcing IT helps alleviate you and your employees from the tedious task of managing IT operations. An MSP comes on board as a partner who can take ownership of IT and let your employees focus on creating strategies, managing relationships with clients and improving profits. This can contribute greatly to the success of your startup! Schedule a phone call with Mike and get a free assessment.