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Rising Star III
Rising Star III

During the recent run of the Tate Talks podcast (Shameless plug - check it out here or your favorite podcast place) one theme kept recurring. Well, two, but we won’t be talking about the amateur hosting of the show on this blog. 

What I did notice though was that two of the guests mentioned the exact same thing when I asked for their top tips for MSPs: planning. 

More importantly, making the plan. So I thought I’d spend a few minutes today looking at MSP plans, why they are important to create, and why it’s just as important to communicate the plans with your team as it is to go and carry them out. 

Work On The Business

This next idea is not original thinking, it’s a path well-trodden in the MSP world, but it is important to call out when talking about the importance of making a plan: try to ensure you spend time working on your business rather than in your business. There are many books written about this. Perhaps the most well known is The E Myth Revisited. This is a great read for any MSP business owner and really stresses the importance of taking time to work on the business. But in short, the idea here is that, as a business leader, you should be focused on the activities that grow your business and make it bigger/stronger/sturdier rather than day-to-day activities like client management or book keeping.

Of course, if you’re running a growing MSP then it’s not possible to dedicate all of your time to the growth of the business. I’m sure you have lots of other tasks to do such as sales, deployment, accounting, and ensuring the coffee machine is working properly… but try to set some time aside to work on the business.  This is time for when you are working outside of the day-to-day activities and focusing on things such as strategic planning, analyzing the market, reviewing your product offerings and carrying out staff one-to-one meetings.

And there it is: building plans is an important task that helps build your business. It sets the path forward for your staff, provides them with an understanding of not just what you want to do, but why, and ensures that all activities at all levels can be measured effectively. And thus an important function of building a plan is goal setting. 

Simple Goals

The key to setting goals is that they don’t need to be complex. You don’t even need to think of a lot of them either. Think of three simple goals that are achievable. Write them down. These goals will be your north star for the next month or quarter (whichever time frame you work in). 

The type of goals to set are totally down to you, but consider using the SMART goals framework. Simply put, this means that goals need to be 

  • Specific - we will increase our MRR by 75%
  • Measurable - we will make “x” calls to new clients/day and “x” upsell calls to current clients/week, 
  • Achievable - we have reached this goal before and can do it again, 
  • Relevant - this is the goal we need to maintain current staffing levels
  • Time-bound - we will reach this goal by end of quarter. 

All of those are important, but being achievable within a certain time frame is really important.  Setting unrealistic goals with too short time frames can demoralize you and your team when you inevitably fail.

There is a very simple example of some goals for MSP at the bottom of this article.

Communicate the Plan

Having these goals in your head is a good start, but is of little use unless you have your whole team pulling in the same direction. Explain your goals, why you set them, and why they are important to your team. This kind of discussion will help you hone the objective so your SMART goals are even smarter. 

Your team can become your accountability partner and working together will help you hit your goals.

Measure Your Success

When you have your plan for achieving your goals in place, ensure you look at it on a regular basis and measure how you are doing. You may be way off in some areas, and this does happen of course, but at least you’ll know where you are. Are you on-track? Was the plan realistic? Thinking about this will allow you to refine the plan for next time. Course corrections are easier to accomplish early on. Nobody is perfect, failing to hit the targets in a plan is arguably better than having no plan at all.

The Chris Tate MSP Planning Sheet(patent pending)

You will be surprised to read that I didn’t go to Harvard when I show you the planning sheet I created. I guess I should have said I’m offering it to you for FREE when it’s actually worth $9999, but I didn’t. 

Here it is: 

  1. Write down the top three things you want to achieve this quarter.
  2. Explain it to your team.
  3. Come back to this at the beginning of the next quarter and update it. 

To make it even easier, I have borrowed some top tips from Chris Day (head of IT Glue and ScalePad fame) and inserted them into the planner for you.


Goal 1

Goal 2

Goal 3


Increase MRR 

Improve Client Retention

Deploy new services to my existing clients


Our current MRR is $x - Look to increase to $y

Our retention rate is good, but we can do better.  Aim to increase from 8% to y%

Our client/services adoption matrix shows where we are currently and we need to get our services into a higher percentage of our clients.

Achievable or Attainable

Work being done on marketing to recruit new clients makes this possible if the team pulls together.

With all the teams working together we can increase client satisfaction and hopefully increase retention.

We have a great solution stack that we know offers real business benefits for our clients - we need to speak to them all to ensure they appreciate the benefits.


MRR is a great metric for our business and if it’s increasing we will be hitting our aims.

Getting new clients is hard, so retaining the ones we have is a vital step in the process.

Having more of our clients using the same solution stack is not only great for our MRR, but it will also improve the lives of our support engineers as they will have a more standardized set of products to support.


The targets is to do this by the end of Q2 2023

This is a year long target, running until the end of 2023

We will aim to have the process complete for all current clients by the end of Q3 2023.


If you made it this far, then well done. Once again I cannot stress how important it is for you to make plans in your MSP and then execute it.

So, in the words of Colin Knox (of PassPortal and Gradient MSP fame) don’t say I’ll do it next month, or next year, or whatever. DO IT NOW!

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