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Documentation is a critical but often overlooked source of competitive advantage. When you have good documentation practices in place, that means you’ve documented the ins and outs of your clients’ organizations, and you have all the proof of your processes. So when it comes time to sit down with your clients for the quarterly business review (QBR), your documentation has everything you need in order to deliver productive, transparent, and insightful conversations that strengthen your customer relationships. Service level agreements (SLAs) Did you reach your service level agreements during the past quarter? Whether you hit all of your SLAs or fell short on a ...
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It all starts with an idea. The idea grows into a plan, then a business. Somewhere along the way, the budding business owner picks a business entity. It may all come down to whether he or she should form an S corporation or a C corporation. Formation All corporations are required to file formation documents with their state government. By default,   all   corporations are C corporations. A corporation must file an election to go from “C” to “S.”  According to the IRS, corporations that meet the following criteria can qualify as S corporations: Be a domestic corporation, Consist of shareholders that are individuals, certain types of trusts, and ...
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For a managed service provider (MSP), providing the most exceptional IT services to clients takes the first priority. However, sales are just as important as your services, and should not slip to the bottom of your priority list. There’s a common formula that many business owners use after a sales meeting in which a sales forecast is given: “Whatever the forecast, cut that by 50% and then subtract 20%.” I find that we do this very often because we don’t trust the numbers given by our sales forecasters. Most of the time, we wonder how accurate the numbers are, and that’s where the formula comes in—to keep us on the safe side. It seems that this is the quandary ...
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The biggest shift in the transition from the break-fix business model to managed service provider (MSP), comes down to your pricing and operations. In other words, how much are you going to charge for your services, and how are you actually going to operate in order to provide these services. Consider the following. Choosing the right pricing model Break-fix businesses tend to rely on an activity-based revenue model. Your clients come to you with a problem, and they’re charged based on that circumstance. As an MSP, you’re likely going to shift towards focusing on your monthly recurring revenue (MRR), and thus be charging on a monthly basis. The key to ...
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In December of 2018, the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio decided an important case involving following corporate formalities.  At the center of controversy in this case was the control of an Ohio Mosque.  The Mosque had developed various factions and competing multiple boards of directors were elected.  Because of these issues, the Mosque faced a dissolution of the corporation proceeding.  The action was initiated by the Attorney General and also dealt with the freezing of approximately $500,000 of various assets. The action claimed three violations of corporate governance: failure to maintain a record of its members; failure to maintain complete minutes; ...
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Annual Guide Recognizes the IT Channel’s Top Partner Programs San Diego, CA, 1 April 2019 : LANtelligence, Inc., a Master Solutions Provider announced today that CRN® , a brand of The Channel Company , has recognized LANtelligence, Inc in its 2019 Partner Program Guide. This annual guide identifies the strongest and most successful partner programs in the channel today, offered by the top technology suppliers for IT products and services. To assemble the guide, The Channel Company’s research team assessed each supplier’s partner program based on investments in program offerings, partner profitability, partner training, education and support, marketing ...
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Updating Your MSA

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Master service providers, or MSPs, manage the IT infrastructure and end-user systems that keep their clients’ companies humming. What keeps your MSP-client relationship running without a hitch? A good master service agreement (MSA)! Just like you need to keep your client’s software and operating systems current, it’s important to keep your MSA up-to-date. In fact, if you are an MSP, updating your MSA should be a priority ticket in your job queue. MSA Basics An MSA is a document that memorializes the agreement negotiated between an MSP and its client. A statement of work (SOW) is not the same as an MSA. The SOW covers a specific project while the MSA ...
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How to get more online reviews for your IT business We have a great tip for MSP companies that want to attract new business online but struggle with limited marketing resources. The easiest way to improve your visibility online and get more leads is to get online reviews from your happy customers! Fortunately, one doesn’t need to be a marketing pro to do this. How online reviews can help an MSP’s marketing An online review is essentially a testimonial, only it gets more trust online since it’s posted on independent web resources by real people. In one of our previous posts , we mentioned online reviews as one of the tips to improve your SEO, but that’s ...
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Trusts are common, powerful estate planning tools. People can transfer various kinds of assets to various types of trusts for a number of reasons. Business owners, however, may stop short when thinking of transferring business interests to a trust. Will it mean a loss of control? Is the truly the best way to manage and transfer business assets? Reasons to Transfer Business Interests to a Trust To fund a trust, you need to transfer assets from your ownership to the trust. Assets that may be transferred include personal property, real estate, and business interests. As you might imagine, business interests may be a little more difficult to move. However, ...
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As a successful business owner, you’ve worked hard to get where you are. You know all about sweat equity and sleepless nights. So, doesn’t it make sense to want your business to continue after your participation in it ends through retirement, incapacity, or death? Having a good business succession plan in place could keep your business on track. Without a business succession plan in place, however, your business could quickly derail. What is a business succession plan? Your company may be able to survive and thrive even without you, but it needs help. That’s where the business succession plan comes in.  In order to have the succession plan work fluidly, ...
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Transitioning from the break-fix business model to managed services might feel like an entirely different ball game. That’s because it likely is. But now that you have the right   MSP mindset   in place, it’s time to address the sales and marketing components. For managed service providers (MSPs), having a sales and marketing strategy isn’t optional. It’s critical. Both your sales and marketing help build brand awareness, facilitate long-term customer relationships, and drive growth in your business. Let’s take a deeper look. Differentiation Your sales and marketing strategies depend largely on understanding what differentiates you from other MSPs. In ...
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Every business has a structure or an entity type. So, one business might be a professional corporation, another might be a sole proprietorship. When it comes time to choose the structure your business will use, it’s important to distinguish between entity types. After all, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. One of the most common business entities is the limited liability company or LLC. Another is the corporation. Though similar, there are some important distinctions that we’ll discuss in this article.  Books have been written dealing with the distinctions between these entity types so this article is only intended to start a conversation.  ...
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Right of First Offer vs. Right of First Refusal, which generates a more fair result. By Thomas M. Fafinski   Most of us are familiar with the right of first refusal ("ROFR") but not with the right of first offer ("ROFO").  Generally, a ROFR is advantageous to the purchaser and the ROFO is advantageous to the seller.     With a ROFR, prior to selling your interest to another, you must first allow an existing partner (or other person holding the right of first refusal) the opportunity to match the offer.  Ordinarily, there is a notice component and an obligation to allow the holder of the right to match the offer for a period of time.  The problem with ...
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Protecting Against Ransomware Attacks Cyberattacks are on the rise. In addition to hacking, managed service providers and their clients must now be on guard against evolving cyber-risks, including ransomware is becoming more prevalent. In 2017,   ransomware payments   totaled about $2 billion, which was about twice the 2016 figure. As Managed Service Providers (MSPs) provide management of IT systems, they may need to include proactive defense against cyberattacks to protect their clients and reduce their own liability. How Ransomware Works. Understanding how ransomware works is key to stopping it. An entity gains access to a user’s computer system. ...
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By Thomas M. Fafinski There was a split between several of the Federal Appellate Circuits regarding the registration requirement of copyright infringement suits.  Last week, the United States Supreme Court resolved the split and will likely impact the number of applications being made with the U.S. Copyright Office.  Importantly for MSPs, there is an opportunity to increase your leverage in settlement discussions involving former employees using your protected information. Pursuant to the Copyright Act, copyright protection attaches to original works, i.e. literary, musical, and dramatic works which are “fixed in any tangible medium of ...
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Practical Lead Generation with Limited Marketing Resources In the previous post , we talked about the starting points for your lead generation program. As we said before, you must assess your current situation and make sure your sales team is ready to pick up the game from marketing before lead generation occurs. Now let’s talk about specific marketing techniques. In this post, we share some strategies we recommend you try and others we recommend you don’t. Both lists are not limited and will evolve over time with your marketing maturity and business growth. If some things you try don’t work for you, then cancel them, make a note for yourself and try something ...
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Many professional service companies use master service agreements with their clients. A master service agreement contains important agreements that have been negotiated with the client. Being clear about the goals of your master service agreements could prevent problems later in your business relationship. What Can a Master Service Agreement Do for Me? Getting your agreements in writing provides a number of benefits for both parties: Manages Risks . All MSAs contain concrete details, in writing, of the parties’ agreements. Limitations of liability are common in MSAs, which could reduce the risk of litigation. There’s less possibility that a project ...
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Gone are the days of simply fixing your clients’ tech and waiting for the next frantic phone call. Organizations today are entirely dependent on technology, so your clients can’t afford even a hint of downtime. For many businesses, this means that the break-fix model is no longer a viable solution for providing the necessary level of consistency and reliability customers need. Managed service providers (MSPs), on the other hand, are all about that consistency. Before you take the plunge and get into the nitty-gritty of transitioning into your own MSP business though, you need to start with a shift in your mindset. Running an MSP has a lot of differences in ...
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Does your organization have meetings two or three times a week? Are the problems brought up in your meetings solved in the end, or are they rehashed over and over, week after week? By Joe Schiavone @LANtelligence From what I’ve found in my travels, most managed service providers’ (MSP) meetings last a minimum of four hours a week—when they really should only take about one hour. If this is the issue your organization is often facing, it’s time to improve the effectiveness of your meetings, because frequent, long-lasting meetings increase the cost of your company’s production and revenue. The great CEO of GE, Jack Welch, once wrote that if a meeting lasted ...
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Author: Thomas M. Fafinski, Attorney/Partner, VIRTUS LAW, PLLC   Most managed service providers ("MSPs") exert their efforts on their offense.  Little attention is spent on defense.  The illustration above depicts an unbalanced approach which sacrifices defense (depicted in red) in exchange for sales/offense (depicted in green).  The barriers to entry in the marketplace are very low and generally deal with technical knowledge.  If you have the technical knowledge, then you have little difficulty entering the market, normally starting as a consultant.  The start-up MSP is pre-occupied with creating an offense - trying to find streams of revenue to allow ...
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