How to become the best IT MSP

This article provides guidance for managed service providers (MSPs) that want to grow their business. It is also useful for any IT service provider looking to move from the break-fix model to managed IT services.

Today’s IT professionals know how quickly technology and the way it impacts everyday business functions can change. The role and requirements of being an IT provider have changed dramatically as technology has evolved, which has led to a learning curve for providers but also more opportunity. If you’re still working in the traditional IT provision model – offering clients services around the ‘break-fix’ model, i.e. you break it, we fix it for a fee – it may be time to evolve. 

Datto, a leading provider of IT solutions delivered through MSPs, published its annual ANZ State of the MSP Report which is comprised of research findings from nearly 200 managed service providers (MSPs) across Australia and New Zealand and reveals information about MSPs in the region and the main business challenges they face. The report found that more than 70 per cent of MSPs have been in business for 9 years or more while the greatest proportion, 44 per cent, have run their organisations for more than 16 years. The top challenges reported are marketing and sales, work/life balance, and growing their revenue.

These pain points are an indicator of why many providers are making the move from break-fix project work to managed services. The break-fix model can be a time-suck, as it requires MSPs to address problems on a rolling, unpredictable basis. With a managed services model, MSPs can focus on preventing problems rather than responding to them, and have more control over their schedules, by doing regular maintenance and upgrades rather than solving unpredictable issues as they occur. 

Luckily, there are many resources available to help overcome these issues. Datto offers clear advice for building a successful managed services business in its eBook How to Be an MSP: 7 Steps to Success

When it comes to marketing, the eBook advises there are some important fundamentals:      

  1. Ensure your website is outstanding and engaging and is aimed towards your target audience. 
  2. Outsource your website build to an agency if you don’t have the expertise yourself. 
  3. Ensure you’ve got a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy that will drive potential new clients to your site. 
  4. See if any of the vendors offer marketing development funds (MDFs) to help with your marketing, by supporting marketing campaigns, events, and helping you recruit customers. 

Another important – and, at times, tricky – area for MSPs to consider, according to the eBook, is pricing. MSPs should be offering their services at a price that is both affordable and attractive to clients but is also profitable for their business. To do so, it’s important to know the business’s operational costs and how much of a profit is needed to maintain a successful business. Once that’s established, it’s important to determine how to present these charges to clients.

Some MSPs allow clients to buy individual services, which gives them more choice and a lower price point (that hopefully leads them to buy more services or a bundle of services). Other MSPs bundle solutions and services into tiers, which gives clients a choice that is straightforward and easy to understand. The cost of basic services is clear and clients can then choose higher levels of complimentary services. Other MSPs offer an à la carte menu of services and bundles. 

Once you have worked out how to sell your services, the next step is to figure out your target market. In the eBook, Datto recommends businesses specialise for target markets. This is how some industry-leading MSPs stand out from the competition. 

Focusing on one market allows businesses to build expertise to match the needs of their clientele’s industry, which in turn builds loyalty and can give an organisation a competitive edge over its rivals. Identifying how to specialise and focus on one market can be as easy as considering these questions:

  1. What types of businesses thrive in your local area?
  2. What additional experience and training does your business have which would allow it to pitch to a particular industry? 
  3. Could you target creative industries thriving in Sydney, financial services companies in Melbourne or oil and gas companies in Perth?

For these and other key insights into how to make your MSP business successful, download the full eBook: How to be an MSP: 7 Steps to Success.


As the world’s leading provider of IT solutions delivered by Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Datto believes there is no limit to what small and medium businesses can achieve with the right technology. Datto offers business continuity and disaster recovery, networking, business management, and file backup and sync solutions, and has created a one-of-a-kind ecosystem of partners that provide Datto solutions to businesses across the globe. Since its founding in 2007, Datto continues to win awards each year for its rapid growth, product excellence, superior technical support, and for fostering an outstanding workplace. With global headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut, Datto has international offices in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Australia, China, and Singapore. Learn more at