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Building Out Your 2021 MSP Product Stack: MSP Live Chat Recap

msp live chats msp product stack building 2021

What tools should absolutely be on your wishlist heading into next year?

In this MSP Live Chat, we teamed up with Ken Patterson, Director of Community at Pax8 to discuss how MSPs should consider adjusting their stacks and (re)packaging their services to stay competitive in 2021. Watch the replay below to see us debate the latest trends and biggest growth opportunities, with an emphasis on:

  • Advice for keeping up with and managing increasingly complex stacks
  • Factors that should go into your purchasing decisions
  • What you actually need security-wise, and what you don’t
  • Tips for standardizing your offerings and improving your profitability
  • And more…

What are MSP Live Chats?

We launched the MSP Live Chats series to give our partners a forum to connect directly with each other and top experts in the channel. These sessions aren’t about being talked at or presented to — they’re fully interactive and built around active participation. So come join the discussion!

You can see the full list of past chats and upcoming ones here.


Hosts and Guests

me circle
Jonathan Crowe
Director of Content and Community at NinjaOne


tom watson circle

Tom Watson

Channel Chief Advisor at NinjaOne


ken patterson circle

Ken Patterson
Director of Community at Pax8




  • Ken gives an overview of the incredible Channel Strong tour
  • Results of our “what’s in your stack?” survey
  • Ken on how you should really be talking to your clients about security (hint: they don’t care about the same things you do)
  • Jonathan’s ridiculous (but kind of interesting!) “You can only keep 3” polls

  • Ken and Tom on picking a lane with your stack and sticking to it (instead of chasing shiny objects and customers who aren’t a good fit)
  • Defender for AV? Microsoft Security Score. Is Dark Web Monitoring played out?

Bonus materials



Jonathan: All right. Hey, everybody, welcome back to another MSP Live Chat. I’m Jonathan Crowe. I’m director of Content & Community here at NinjaOne. I’ve got with me Tom Watson he is our chief channel advisor. Hi, Tom.

Tom: Hi, how are you doing?

Jonathan: And we got Ken Patterson from Pax8, you’re director of community at Pax8, right, Ken?

Ken: Absolutely. How’s everybody doing?

Jonathan: I think it’s probably safe to say people can chime in on the chat. We’re all well-rested everyone’s relaxed, there’s no anxiety or high tensions. We’re ready to go I think we’re ready to roll right?

Ken: Absolutely.

Jonathan: All right, yeah. So today, thanks, everybody, for taking the time, especially today of all days. We’ve got a great lineup of discussion and great to see people who are returning to this session who are familiar faces we’ve seen from a lot of the previous ones. We got, Kelvin, Kristin, great to see you guys. And people are still coming in so that’s great to see, too. So just as a reminder, for anyone who this is your first time with us for this MSP Live Chat, it’s gonna be a pretty informal conversation we want you guys to drive a lot of it. So feel free to jump in the chat please do that. If you have a question if you look down at the bottom there of the screen, there’s a place where you can ask a question separately. If you do that in the chat or make it last. So if you have something you really want us to pay attention to please put that there.

I’m also gonna be launching a few polls a little bit later on that are pretty cool. So I’ll give you a heads up when I do that. But in the meantime, Ken, tell us before we dive into the topic which is, of course, everybody getting really thinking about the next year, changes to their stacks, how they’re evaluating things. You’ve been up to…I mean, this year has been insanely different for everybody. At Pax8, you guys are huge in the community, you’re super active. This has of course changed the way that you do things too in terms of events. I wanted to bring up the fact that you’ve been…still find a way to get out on the road and do some cool things, do you wanna talk about that a little bit?

How Pax8 adjusted their community and events strategy + inside the Channel Strong Tour

Ken: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, things have changed just a little bit I’d say. You know, last year, I was on the road, I’d say 90% of the year last year traveling around and talking to a whole lot of folks. And this year, that completely changed in March. And when everything hit March, the first thing I thought of is, what are we gonna do? Like where are the partners? What’s our community gonna do as a whole having to be stuck home having to look at screens? Yes, it’s great that we have the technology and we’re able to do it. But from a mentality standpoint, what is it gonna look like? We’re definitely gonna have our own little mental breakdowns having to do it that way. And so we did a few things, we launched a page where people could get together. But again, it’s screenshot, right, everybody was on a screen talking to each other, and doing that kind of stuff. So we did that. And then a couple of…you know, George Bardissi, which I know you guys know from bvoip. We were having a conversation on one of those chats and he was joking around about how “Hi listen if nobody wants to go to this event, the last event that might be open, let’s get an RV. Let’s go borrow Tom’s RV?” How about that one? Go borrow an RV drive down to the event, pick people up along the way, and still make it.”

Of course, that event finally canceled. It was the last one that canceled it was DataCon and we kept talking. We’re like, “Jeez, I wonder if we could do something.” Everybody kept saying to us, “Hey, we’d love to see you, you should stop by and see us.” So we created this tour the Channel Strong tour. And we did 17,000 miles that first trip three weeks.

Channel Strong Tour 2020

Obviously being our first trip, we weren’t very good at it doing 17,000 miles in three weeks was difficult but it was a lot of fun. But a couple of things we wanted to make sure we were doing was staying safe, doing it responsibly. We wanted to prove that we could still be in person but we can wear masks, we can be socially distanced, and still have the best part of what the events were right. You guys know this, the best part of the events was the social aspect, the happy hours, the lobby talk. Those were the best parts connecting with other MSPs was always the best part. So we wanted to take that out to the partners. Every vendor that was on this tour bus was told the same thing, “we’re not selling.” There was no selling on this trip. I legit made it so that we were just going there to have a good time. If people wanted to come up and ask a question, sure, you’re gonna answer it but there’s no sales push and that’s what I think made it special and different.

We also had a food drive so the admission to come to the event was two canned goods. We got so much food for the local food banks. I’ll tell you right now you might get me to shed a little tear here because it was pretty amazing seeing pallets of food and money being brought to the food banks. Our community just pulled together in such a great fashion. We did so good on the first one we decided to do a smaller one in a place that we feel like was missing events anyways and that was in the Rust Belt. We were doing, you know Ohio, Michigan, we did Kentucky, we did just the corner of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, and kind of did that 2,000 or 3,000-mile loop there and did the same thing. And we had just a great time doing it, delivering that message kind of just having something different than going around and trying to sell. It just worked very well. The communication was great, had a lot of great conversations with MSP, and learned a lot of what’s going on through COVID right now.

Jonathan: Yeah, I mean, that’s incredible that you guys were able to think outside the box there and not let everything stop, you find a way to get out there and do it. And then also do all that good work too really hats off to you guys. Well, speaking of that, though, in terms of learning, kind of talking to people on the ground, figuring out what’s going on. What have you been hearing? And maybe you can do that…you can start general but maybe through the end of this discussion today too about people stack and the kind of plans for next year?

Ken: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the one common theme was…listen, nobody’s doing…they’re not all off the charts, right, blowing it up. And they’re not all getting completely wiped out, right, there’s a middle ground. The common theme was they’re all doing pretty positive. There’s different ways of that right, a lot of them are losing project work, but they’re also making it up with this new work from home, how to secure that work from home, and that type of business. So they were getting a bit creative. A lot of the partners that are still in good shape, the one common theme between all of them was they were already driving to the cloud, right. So they already were doing that and moving in that direction and this sped this up on the other side. But it also made it so that they weren’t so shocked when they had to move their whole entire workforce home and do things from home. They could already do it because they were working in that direction.

The other common theme was education and marketing, or marketing with education was a big helper to most of these businesses. When March hit, a lot of people were saying, “What am I gonna cut? How am I gonna cut back?” And the common theme between the guys and girls that were proactive were that they doubled down on marketing and they took sales away from it and made it educational. So it’s all education, how do you use teams? How do you work from home? How do you use Zoom even? All these things. And when they started doing that back in March, what happened was a lot of these businesses that realized their IT departments or their IT people may have been failing, were like, “What’s happening? What am I doing?” And they’re seeing this. And now more C level, people were paying attention to these types of educational marketing pieces, and we’re reaching out and actually attending their events. And now that things were opening up a little bit, they were getting RFPs like crazy on the stuff that they were pushing out there. “Need to learn more about teams, need to know more about this work from home. Our team failed us we don’t know what to do, we need help, right.” And that kind of moved that along got like a new burst of business for them just from doing the education back in March.

So those were the big common things. The main thing is that the MSPs that were already focused on the cloud are surviving more than the ones that aren’t. Not to say that the ones that aren’t didn’t push through and you know, got to that next level or started to because they realize they had to. But that was the common theme between what I saw. The people that were really succeeding through this still feeling some pain, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of pain projects getting pushed off, don’t help anybody. But they found ways to get…are getting through it. And they really all say the same thing a light at the end of the tunnel is real and it’s not a train this time, they feel pretty good about coming out the other side of this.

Jonathan: Nice. Well, thank you for that. And before we go too much further, I wanted to drop a link to our agenda doc for this session. So this is just a Google Doc, we do things very fancy around here. So this is a Google Doc we put together that has some information about how you can get in touch with me and Tom, we got Ken here too. And then we also are gonna have links here that we drop in about any resources we talk about. I’ll update this even after the chat is over. So if you guys mentioned any good resources, or if Ken does, I can add things in there. I’ve populated it with a couple of things already. The first one is…you may have seen this in our email invite. Everyone who’s attended, feel free to grab a copy of our 2020 MSP Software Guide. We can talk about this a little bit more further on. But this is a guide we put together where we look at, I think it’s over 90 different MSP software products, which goes into our discussion today, right? I mean, just trying to figure out what goes into your stack and seeing all the options out there there’s a ton of options. So 90-some products split in some different categories RMMS, PSAs, remote access, ticketing, documentation, all sorts of stuff.

And it looks at G2 data and Capture data. And for those who don’t know these are review sites. And so it kind of collects all that data into one place so you can check that out.

Best MSP Software Guide

And then we also have a MSP cost calculator and this is something that for return people you may have seen Tom talk about this. A couple of sessions ago he shared it. This is a calculator that he actually used when he was an MSP owner to help him figure out his margins, what his pricing needed to be to be profitable.

msp pricing calculator download cta

So I think we have some other opportunities to dive back into that too as we get into the discussion.

Results of our “what’s in your stack?” survey

Let me bring up something here. In prep for this, we wanted to get a big feel for, “Okay, what’s everybody got in their stack right now? What’s some of the things they are thinking about?” And we launched a survey, right. You guys probably got the emails. A lot of you took the survey, and we have a $50 gift card that we’re gonna be giving out to someone. I’m going to announce it in just a little bit. But I wanted to share some of the stuff that we saw. So this first chart that I’m showing you, this is actually three different questions since visualizing three different sets of answers here. But we basically asked you guys, “How do you feel about your stack right now?” And this first column that we see is basically satisfaction. And you’ll see that the scale here was from one to five. It’s like, “Oh, my God, my stack is the worst, it’s awful,” all the way up to, “My stack is the best thing ever since sliced bread.” And the news here is that people on the whole feeling pretty good about their stack, which is good to hear.

But this is kind of interesting. And Tom, and Ken I want your thoughts on this and everyone in the chat too. Maybe if this is ringing true to you guys chime in. But we also asked about, “Okay, that’s how you feel about your stack in terms of satisfaction, what about utilization? How fully do you feel like you’re actually using the tools that you have?” And here we have about 50% of folks who don’t feel that great about that. Maybe they’re not using the tools they have to the full extent. And that kind of gets mirrored over here when we asked about ROI. Again, roughly 50% are not feeling as good as maybe they’d like to in terms of that. So I mean, this came up in discussion with Ken, you, me, and Tom, leading up to this. Maybe reflect some of the challenges when it comes to figuring out what tools should we be using and how are we actually getting the most out of these things?

Ken: Yeah, I mean, I would say from a utilization standpoint, there’s a question here, right? Is the utilization…the reason why they’re saying utilization is not so great is it because there’s just too much to use there, right? We talked about that a little bit. Some of these RMM tools have so many tools and crazy stuff and a lot of it MSPs don’t even use. So is it because of that, or is it because we as MSPs don’t have enough education around what we can use in there or educated enough on the tools that are part of that the RMM the PSA? And that could be the question. So it kind of goes two ways there utilization from a standpoint of “Holy crap, I would never be able to use all this stuff. So yeah, no, I’m not using it all.” Or is it because, “I just don’t know about all of the things that I do need, and how am I going to apply that?” I mean, Tom, I don’t know how you feel about that.

Tom: Yeah, or to me, is it did you invest the time when you got the tool, and have enough people at your company invest time as well and dedicate to actually utilizing it? As in, you know, with RMM did you put enough conditions in there that things actually happened to take advantage of the level of automation? Or, you know, are you with a vendor that doesn’t provide adequate onboarding or support or makes you pay for that in some way? There’s a lot of factors that lead into this.

Ken: Yeah, I agree. And I also think that part of that responsibility lies on us the MSP, right, we have to push for that stuff. Now if they don’t have it, or they’re not giving it that’s a different question. But you should definitely be saying, “Look, this is what I need for my business, these are the checkboxes I need to have and know about to run my business.” And then if you’re not getting them from them, then yeah, you have a valid complaint. But I do believe that some of that onus falls on us as MSPs. As I was an MSP for 20 plus years as well and I’ll admit, I didn’t always follow that. And I learned over the years how to follow that. And I do agree, to Brian’s point in the chat that yes, tools are shiny object syndrome there’s no question about that.

Jonathan: We can look at some other interesting findings from the survey. We asked, “Okay, what’s the biggest challenge when it comes to making changes to your stack?”

We asked people to answer one, pick one thing. And having the time to just research and evaluate everything probably not surprised that was the biggest challenge. You guys have jobs you gotta do, right, you got other things going on. Maybe you’re also today refreshing election results, but yeah, you got other things that you have to do. So the challenge is like, trying to build the car as it’s going down the highway, right? And then, of course, all of the above all these things can be a challenge. Some of the other things, information, time and training, kind of going back to your point, Tom. About some tools requiring a lot of heavy lifting, at least early on, and maybe some folks have not been fully prepared for that.

Let’s go to one other thing. So this one just to kind of give you a high-level overview. What’s the percentage of folks who are actually thinking about making a change? How often do people wanna change their stack?

Probably not surprised anyone who’s active on Reddit, or some of these groups like MSPs R Us, or IT Pool Party. People are changing all the time or at least thinking about it. And so we asked people, “Making any changes in the next 12 months.?” And we had, “Yes, we’re considering new additions. Yes, we’re considering moving or consolidating.” A big chunk saying yes, one of those two things. And a much smaller chunk of people saying, “I’m not sure,” or, “No, we’re not gonna do anything right now.”

Last thing, in terms of these fancy charts, so we asked you, “Okay, well, what is in your current stack right now? And we’d love to hear from the chat how reflective this is from you.”

Some surprising things I think, Ken, Tom, and I were pointing out that the PSA adoption is pretty surprising. But to give you some more context, this was a survey that we got around 180 responses, I think, so pretty sizable survey. And I mean, some of these are not a surprise at all. But Tom, looking at this list, was there anything that kind of like jumps out with you or anything you wanna talk about in terms of your time as an MSP?

Tom: Yeah, well, I mean, we see a big emphasis that kind of reflects the time here. This emphasis on remote access, remote monitoring, management. And then, you know, I think as we evolve as MSPs, we start looking to things more on the backend, such as PSA and ticketing to help us wrap something around all of this. Where the tools feed into, the information, we can build time against agreements. So I kind of look at it is that it’s kind of very appropriate for the time and you know, our audience on here. And maybe we can also get someone to chime in who’s in the chat here as well.

Jonathan: And I saw in the chat too, that you’re bringing up the MSA and I can certainly pull up a link for those who haven’t gotten that yet. We have a free MSA template that we’re happy to share with anybody. Let’s look at the wishlist. So we also asked people, okay, that’s what your current stack is what are you thinking about adding in terms of next year? So for the folks who didn’t have the PSA, that’s obviously gonna be on their list that was the top thing. But now the next one, mobile device management. Ken, any thoughts about this? So we got mobile device management, another one infrastructure as a service or cloud infrastructure. Is this kind of jiving with some of the things that you’re seeing on your guys, end?

Ken: It’s a little bit. I mean, obviously, everybody wants to get into infrastructure, right, especially now that the shift is on for a number of different things that go on that way. I’m surprised that a lot of people have quoting and invoicing as almost the number one, right that was the largest wishlist item.

Jonathan: I think quoting and invoicing is actually…no, it’s PSA…

Ken: Oh, PSA, right. The PSA, one we talked about a number of times too. How PSA could be, you know, that far up there. I think a PSA should be the number one thing on their wishlist. It’s something you should be putting in place. Because if you can’t track those tickets, your efficiencies, and all the things…there are so many things you can do at your PSA tool, regardless of which one it is. You need to have your efficiencies in place, and it rolls back to the conversation we had the other day about deciding what you wanna do when you grow up, right? What are we going to do? What is our business gonna look like? And a lot of times and I’ve been in this boat, too. We’re IT people we know technology so we feel like we can just jump into the business. But we missed the whole point of what is that business going to do? What are we gonna target? How are we gonna work? What’s our identity? Who are we? And then we put the stack around that. That leads to not having a PSA which I truly believe is something you should start right out with no matter the size. There are some smaller ones that can do the trick. So I get that part too when you’re starting out small and you can gradually work your way up or stay with it if it works for you.

But deciding what you’re gonna do, and then picking the tools that work for you. I think sometimes we get too caught up with people saying “I’m the expert and you need to do this, this and this. And that’s it.” And that doesn’t work in this world. In the MSP world, there’s no silver bullet. You know what your business is, decide what you wanna do, and then pick the tools that fit that. And that’s really where I come from with all this. I don’t try to be the expert. I’m not an expert, but I try to throw out some ideas. And then you as the owner of the business owner, the creator should know where you wanna go and then pick those tools that compliment that.

Jonathan: Absolutely. Tom, can you speak to that a little bit, maybe going back to your time. I know that you’ve talked about on previous sessions you had some specific verticals that you ended up kind of focusing on more than others. Law firms was one of them. Did that impact how you were building out your stack at all? Or what was your journey like when you were starting out and then getting up to the point where you were kind of running full steam in terms of building out your stack?

Tom: I mean, In terms of build-out my stack I was kind of….because we gotta go back. My MSP started in 1999. So PSAs weren’t kind of really hitting the market and becoming a big thing until…you know, I found out about them in 2008. And that was if you look, we’ve got Kaseya before that, but that’s when ConnectWise starts to make their big splash that’s what I had. And that’s when I really found out about it. Before that, I was using a myriad of tools. And then I was looking to consolidate because I had information in all these different disparate toolsets and I was looking to bring that together. The big thing for me was, I was making a big move to agreement based managed services. And I wanted something…the most important thing to me was, I wanted everything to build time, underneath an agreement. So that I could look back and have the metrics and analytics on that. So that kind of drove starting in 2008, 2009, when I shifted everything to managed services that kind of drove the whole adoption of what tools I was gonna choose. Did they propel me more towards being able to scale in terms of adding on clients, having a defined stack of products for everyone and services? And did it allow me to build time effectively, and build those products and still make money under managed service agreement?

Ken on security, MSSPs, + how MSPs should really talk to their clients about it

Jonathan: Well one area that I think we can really kind of tee off on and get a lot of discussion going around is security because we hear about security all the time. It should rightly be at the top of everyone’s mind. But what you actually need for security, what should be in your stack, what’s for you internally versus what you’re selling to your clients? What type of clients are gonna actually be able to afford some of the bigger security solutions out there? A lot of movement in this space, right, and a lot of questions. So maybe we can dive into that a little bit because going back to this wishlist it’s kind of interesting we see if you go back to the current stack I listed just SOC-as-a-service. So I’m thinking about companies like Perch, or Skout, or RocketCyber. There’s a lot of places I mean, there’s just more people providing SOC-as-a-service, providing, SIM as a service, providing NVR now help using EDR tools, all sorts of stuff, it’s pretty confusing. A low percentage of people actually having that in terms of the folks who answered our survey. But then pretty high on the wishlist. So security, Ken, what have you been seeing, what are the questions? Do you have any advice for people as they try to think about…you know, they hear all the time, “Security is the big opportunity, you should be trying to be an MSSP.” What are your thoughts on that?

Ken: Well, let’s roll that one. Let’s get rid of that myth right out of the gate. And again, I’m no expert this is my point of view. If you look at it MSSP is a whole other level. MSSP help MSPs. To get to the MSSP level is not just buying some tools and saying you’re an MSSP. So be careful with that, make sure you do your research, there’s a lot required to be an MSSP. There are MSSPs out there that their whole entire thing they do is help MSPs get to that next level of security. But my thing is for a goal for a smaller MSP someone that’s coming out now, your whole thing should be, “We’re a security-first company.” And the good news is, it’s getting a little bit easier to do that. You mentioned RocketCyber and Skout, those guys are starting to come into the range of what the smaller MSP can afford to do and put in place to get that SOC, SIEM. But remember, not every company requires that. Make sure you know what the requirements are of the customers that you’re going after before you start searching out all these tools. You don’t wanna spend on tools that you’re not gonna need.

Find out what you’re gonna target. If you’re gonna target folks that don’t have that level of security don’t have that need, then don’t worry about the tools. If you wanna go for higher value, customers that value what you do and respect what you tell them to do and need that, then go after that, and then pick those tools. Just make sure it matches up to the people that you’re approaching and you’re selling to. I think that’s the main thing. But the good news is they are coming down. I just noticed RocketCyber and some of the pricing that they have lines up very well with the smaller MSP and will plug right in. I know that scouts very good. There’s a lot of really good products coming into the fold that are going to be a bit more palatable for the smaller MSP to add into their stack. And you can still do that as a separate level, right? You can have your stack be, “This is what’s required you need all this. But if you need this level of security, we also offer this,” and you plug that into your pricing. But I think you have to know who you’re selling to first before you start going around and saying, “You should have this you should have that.” Know your partners, know the people you’re approaching, and then buy your tools based on that. You know you’re gonna be profitable because you built your business around that.

Tom: Ken, I think that’s a great point. I focused…I’ve talked about certain verticals. I had a lot of law firms, a lot of associations and nonprofits, and government contractors but I really tried to focus on where I could. Law firms, I had about 40% to 50% at any given time. And I liked them because they made their money at their desk, at their computer. And that was my focus. And so I built my toolset around that. You know, they were building a lot of money out per hour so they wanted very quick services, they felt like they were losing time. So I built it out over remote access to their machines, I built it over security concerns that government contractors had. I picked my tools as you were saying based around where I was very strong in my verticals.

Ken: I just wanna add, Brian just added a really good point in the chat there. I just wanna throw out there. No, the client…

What we call security, and what the client calls security are two totally different things. Security to us, is those shiny tools, all the toys, and the bells and whistles. Security to them is, “Can I sleep tonight? Is my business gonna open tomorrow? Is someone gonna steal everything from me overnight?” It’s a whole different thing. The definition of security is split in two. Talk to IT folks it’s one thing, you talk to customers, it’s another, and that’s why everything you do with them should be about business not about technology.

ken patterson circle


Ken Patterson, Director of Community at Pax8


When you start talking technology to them it sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher, right? And Paul Redding says that all the time from Compliancy Group, I’m not gonna steal his line. But it’s true they don’t understand the technology nor do they want to. What they wanna know is, “These are my business problems and I’m gonna use some gadgets and gadgets back here to take care of that problem, right?” Business problems solved by technology. So you approach it from a business perspective then you don’t have to worry about…Security to them is, “Yes, you’re gonna sleep at night because I get a set of tools that’s gonna take care of your business problem.”

Jonathan: That kind of brings up a question that I think a lot of people have talked about this before. But I mean, customers, should they need to know what’s in your stack?

Ken: Listen, if you’re doing co-managed sometimes you will, right because those are larger clients, and they’re just renting your toolset and they’re renting…and they wanna know all about it right? And you’re gonna take care of them that’s one set. If you’re a smaller MSP, you should not be talking about your products, you should be talking about your solutions, right? When you talk about products, you’re digging a hole in a number of different ways. How about you tell them about this great AV product. For three months, you’re talking them into this great AV product then the product gets bought out or something bad happens. Now you gotta go back and explain to them why you the expert just talked them into something that went out a month later. Whereas if you’re just selling a solution, and they know that you’re covered on the backend, you could say, “Hey, this weekend, we’re doing an update.” And you just change out the AV product behind the scenes there’s no nothing to worry about. So it becomes very problematic to talk about the gadgets and gadgets, products as well. Sell the solution, not the product.

Jonathan: Tom, does that line up with kind of what your experience was? Did you have anything that was not like that?

Tom: Well, I was relatively transparent on what I was offering my stack without often getting too specific. So for example, I would say I’m offering hosted email, and it’d be hosted exchange. But I might choose on the scenario, whether it was some intermediate or it was Office 365. I might put like some explanation of RMM that I had in there, backup, I would make it general so that I could swap out the backup as needed. And also because I didn’t want them…as Ken was saying I didn’t want them kind of shopping that around and discussing “Well, they have this vendor and you have this one, I read about this.” I didn’t want that to happen. But at the same time, as you mentioned, co-managed IT, which I did do quite a bit of, I was even more transparent at that point because I was kind of managing those tools along with another group.

Jonathan: We’ve got a question here in the chat and I wanna go back to it. This is from Dennis. Ken, this is probably right up your alley. What about managing SaaS applications beyond 365, or cloud backup? Like managing customers well, in this case, you’re saying Box, QuickBooks, WebEx, etc. SaaS apps, I think you might be able to talk about that?

Ken: A little bit. It’s coming it’s not there yet, right. And that’s where…we had the conversation the other day as well, where, you know, some people like, “Oh, my God, is RMM gonna be needed anymore?” Well, we’re still gonna have devices. So you’re gonna need RMM, you’re gonna need these tools to manage it. But what do we do about having something like an RMM to manage those SaaS apps? There are some products out there now pushing in that direction. I will not hold Pax8 but we have some ideas around this as well. But right now there’s nothing that really can do like pulling things like Box. And it’s more about Box than it is about any product being able to do it, right. Because you have to have access to products behind the scenes to be able to say, “This is how we’re gonna manage this, what’s going on with each one of these SaaS applications.” Listen it’s still products that sit on someone else’s server at the end of the day, right, there’s not a magical place called the cloud that it floats around and does its thing. But getting access to that in a secure way to be able to manage those. That’s where some of the problems will come in when you’re reaching to products like Box and outside products that aren’t maybe not directly connected like Microsoft is.

Jonathan: I see in the chat too some people…feel free use this time to not just listen to us, yap on but like, connect with each other ask questions like, “Hey, what are you guys using for x, y, or z?” Definitely take the chance to do that. I mean, there’s obviously Reddit and other places too but you’ve got a good audience of about 100 MSPs right now, so definitely feel free to ask peers here what they’re using for various things. So I…

Ken: Jonathan just real quick, sorry, I don’t mean to cut you off here and take over. But you just brought up a really big point that these guys should all know. You guys should always be falling on each other for help, everybody, the community. Don’t be afraid to talk to other MSPs in an open way even if they’re in your backyard that’s where you gonna learn the most about your business. And maybe ways you can help each other out. It’s how I grew my business, well businesses over the years. So just keep that in mind when you’re doing that. And also, just because I’m a Pax8 guy doesn’t mean I won’t help you reach out I don’t have a problem helping people. My whole role and community doesn’t just mean Pax8’s community, it’s the whole community. We help all ships rise, right that’s what we wanna do together. I mean, same with NinjaOne, right they’re out here, just helping anybody who’s willing to jump on and do this. That’s a great thing. These guys are community leaders, make sure you’re reaching out to your community leaders for help. You never know where you’re gonna find a solution to a problem that you have. So sorry, Jonathan. I just wanted to throw that out.

Jonathan: Well, I’m glad you did. No, that’s great to bring up and, you know, especially…I mean, this year more than the others when we don’t have those events, you know, we don’t have all those collaboration opportunities. I think having things like this, leaning into all the discussion groups, IT Pool Party, MSPs R Us, Reddit (r/msp), but having all those places I mean, it’s been great for me, personally, and I think a lot of people probably feel the same way. So, yes, it’s great to see.

Ken: Brian wants to know what Pax8 is, I can give him a quick little blurb. Brian, I’m not a sales guy, sometimes I sound like a sales guy because I believe in what I do. I don’t back things that are gonna bite me in the butt by saying they do what they don’t. Pax8 is one of the…is a cloud distributor, not your typical distributor. We do deal directly with cloud-only, we don’t do hardware. And we’re kind of…think of us as the Amazon of the cloud software world except for we have exceptional support in many other ways. We educate our partners on a regular basis, which is why I’m here doing this. I love educating and helping as much as I can the MSP community. So that’s on its most basic level is what we are Pax8. And it’s something you can join for free, there’s no charge for doing it. Once you become a partner, you get access to all the education, all the things that we do. It allows you…one of the biggest things we distribute is Microsoft licenses and we are direct with Microsoft. So it just gives you extra benefits. Thanks, guys just wanted to answer the question.

Jonathan’s ridiculous (but kind of interesting!) “You can only keep 3” polls

Jonathan: Absolutely. Thank you, Brian you’re a great plant for Ken that’s great. Okay, so I’ve got a couple of polls here. And okay, keep in mind, these are basically just conversation starters, okay, this is not like a necessarily a real-world thing here. But I’m going to go ahead and make all of these visible. So if you go down to the bottom of the screen, there’s some polls. And basically, I just want you guys to think in these strangely hypothetical scenarios. We got a few different polls here, there’s four choices for all of them, you only get to keep three, which one thing gets cut? And some of these things are kind of silly, like the first one Remote Access, RMM backup, PSA, of course, you’re gonna wanna have all those things.

But in some of these cases, like if we go down to the second one, mobile device management, cloud infrastructure, SOC-as-a-service, security awareness training, those are the top four things that were on the wishlist that I pulled up earlier. So just kind of curious, like, can we start thinking about prioritization and I’m just kind of interested to see what people say with this.

rmm remote access backup psa

mdm iaas soc security awareness

documentation asset management crm qbr

And then going over to the other side of house, Tom, I would love your thoughts on this. So when you think about stack, obviously, you could break it down in a couple of ways. There’s the tools that allow you to service your clients or I guess, I should say that they’re almost like the client-facing things like AV, backup. And then you have like your back of the house stuff, documentation platforms, your CRM. QBR reporting, I guess could fall on either boat. But Tom, when you were building out your business, I guess some of the…this is a while ago, so some things weren’t available. But were there some core kinda like back of the house tools that you went to first before others?

Tom: Well, I mean, you’ve, of course, got your accounting tool, that’s gonna take, you know, center court for most people, and that is what you’re gonna probably start doing your invoicing from. So as many MSPs that was QuickBooks. But then I’m trying to figure out…One of the key things became important was I decided that I wanted to sell hardware, and I needed to get proficient at quoting and invoicing hardware and getting paid for it. So those two things, what became important was a quoting tool, and then the ability to get paid digitally on those quotes.

av email dns password management

Jonathan: All right, got you. Looking at the results coming in here, password management, get it out of there in terms of security. I think this is just kind of interesting again, like, obviously, you’re gonna wanna have all these things. But I’m just trying to make a point…And maybe Ken, tell me what you think here. But like, if in some cases, you’re not able to get all these things all in one day or maybe you are. I mean, especially on the security side of things like, I guess, do you have any advice in terms of how much you should be driving your customer’s decisions versus letting, their, maybe hesitancy to pay a lot guide what you’re doing?

Ken: It’s a tough one, you put some…you like to be push the envelope on these, Jonathan I mean, really. I mean, honestly…listen, like I said, there’s no right direct way to say, “Hey, you know, you gotta do it this way.” But password management right now is one of the two most important tools you can have. You know, 90% of the attacks that came out you know, even before COVID going into COVID, your two most important tools were password management and your MFA. If those two things were implemented on 90% of those attacks, they wouldn’t have happened, right? If those layers would have stopped that from happening, not to say that you’re 100% protected by that right. But those are your two most important tools. Now, do I think every small MSP has an easy way to get MFA implemented and make their customers happy? No, it’s difficult, it’s hard. But trying to find a, create a plan to get there is important. And whether you start out with two FA and find some ways to make it, you know, a little bit more secure. Getting tricky with you know, some of the ways you set it up. That and password management they’re not super…password management is definitely not super expensive. So I get what you did here, right you said, “Pick one and dump it right?”

And yeah, you’re not gonna get rid of your email security or DNS filtering, even your endpoint security. Although I find it…I’d love to know the answer to, did you say endpoint security because you feel like some of the stuff built in is good enough with all these other products wrapped around it [inaudible 00:37:52] you know, I’m saying? I don’t know…

Jonathan: We’re gonna get into it now.

Ken and Tom on picking a lane with your stack and sticking to it instead of chasing shiny objects and customers who aren’t a good fit

Ken: Yeah, man. I don’t know if that’s one of the reasons why, because a lot of people are starting to ask that question. But it’s all about layers and again, just to roll back, if you could do…the bigger question is, did you determine what your customer base is gonna look like? Who you’re gonna target? The biggest thing I say is, “Look, there’s room for everybody. I know people like to break it up and say, “Oh, you’re break/fix, you’re this, you’re that.” There’s room for everybody decide what you wanna do and do it. But don’t say you’re gonna do one thing and then try to dive into something else because that’s where you’re gonna get caught, that’s where you’re gonna be chasing these tools, right? Figure out what you wanna do and then determine what that cost is gonna be, what you need to sell it at, and be firm with it, go at it, go find the customers. When I did it, like Tom, Tom has a great plan, which is why he was successful and he got to where he is now. Similar plan with me but also I had the expectation set upfront, “This is what we’re gonna do and hey, not everybody is a fit.” And it was hard to do at first because Tom can attest. And early on, you wanna take everything that comes your way, right? “Oh, you have a computer, I’m your guy, right.” But you can’t do that as you’re growing and you’re trying to expand. That’s where this tool sprawl is gonna go all over the place.

If you know what you’re doing, you know what you’re selling, and you stick to it, you become more of the doctor and they don’t question what you’re doing anymore. You’re not just the computer guy that’s coming and trying to sell them something and they pick it apart. You’re able to say, “Look, this is what we need to fix it and we’re gonna do, if not, we’re not a fit, and that’s okay.” I think that that has to happen early on or find a way to switch to it.

Jonathan: Go ahead, Tom.

Tom: Ken hit on something really important and that’s right. When you start out early years, you wanna take on every client you can, and you just wanna fill your days, fill your time, and bill as much as you can. And then the evolution of an MSP is you create this stack. And a lot of times you’re getting these prices on things in your stack based on the numbers so you need to apply that to everyone. And then you have to go to another level where understanding that stack doesn’t work for everyone. It’s not gonna work for every client and that’s fine you seek out clients that it does work for. And so my thing was, I had to…you know, I first ended up with these multiple different plans, you know, gold, silver, bronze, and then I would make variations of that. But of course, that was confusing on the back end, because it wasn’t just me at that time, it was now technicians. And so they didn’t know what the stack was applied to each client. So then I had to go another direction of okay, I’m mainly gonna do one plan that’s unlimited, and one plan that has set hours. And the stack is only gonna vary in terms of unlimited hours, or limited hours for a certain number per month.

But everything else in that stack is the same, the DNS filtering, the antivirus, the email, the support, the backup, the RMM, all of those things. And then I had to decide, okay, if the stack does not fit a client, what is the option? Well, the option for me, was they’re not a good fit because this stack doesn’t apply to them, or they can’t see the light that this stack does work for them. And they do need almost everything on this list. But no one uses everything on this list. It’s not that way.


My option was the way I grew [my business] was, if you didn’t understand the stack, and you couldn’t come around to my way of thinking I had one other option for you. You can buy prepaid hours and we’ll just take care of you on that basis. And maybe we’ll invoice you for something else like some backup and some antivirus. But we’re not going to have that full relationship.

tom watson circle


Tom Watson, Channel Chief Advisor at NinjaOne


Which actually can be nice because I’m also not tying my company to a set of expectations with you because I didn’t sign you to a contract. So I looked at it from…I became very black and white, either you understand stack and you bought into my way of doing business or you don’t and you can get some hours from me.

Jonathan: I mean, it goes back to…Ron has an interesting question. And he brings up Mac and of course this is this something that a lot of people run into right? I mean, Ninja can be…to put on Macs, but I mean, most people find themselves going to Addigy or Jamf, right find another solution. I think that’s across the board [inaudible 00:41:54]. And so in pointing out the fact of working with this stack and you know, we all hear the best practice advice of standardization, standardization for everybody. But then when you hit the real world, kind of goes back to what you guys are saying. I know in our conversation last week too our prep call for this Ken, you were talking about, okay, it’s one thing to think about this, think about, you know, your perfect stack where you wanna go. It’s important to have that kind of in mind and maybe that does involve you ramping up your prices and finding clients who are willing to pay, you know, 200, 250 bucks, whatever, like your ideal scenario. But getting between where you are now and there…often when I’m having conversations with people and hearing people talk about this, it does seem like a challenge, right? I mean, that doesn’t just happen overnight.

Ken: Yeah, it’s not simple but there are books written about it that are pretty good Pumpkin Plan is one of them. It’s about you know, getting to the point where you have everything set where you want to go, you’re not dumping everybody, right. Because like I mentioned…and again, Tom can attest. We take everything in over a period of time but then you get to a point where you realize some of those clients are costing you more money than what you’re actually, you know, you’re charging them. And you get to the point where you’re not realizing that’s killing your business in the bottom end. So when you start to build up this other side, you then go to a plan, a stack, build out that pricing. And when you get to a good position, you go to that bottom half of your customer base, the ones that are definitely have been on a plan for however many years at that lower rate, and you hit them with it. “Hey, guys, you know, we’ve been letting you guys do this because you were a client for so long, but we have to get up to the regular pricing, it’s gonna be a 40% hike,” whatever it may be. And the good news is sometimes they’ll go, “Boy, I got them for like three, four years of this pricing, I’m gonna stay on and I’m gonna work with you guys.” Or they’ll leave. And either scenario is good for your business because you’re breaking off that bottom piece.

I’ve had other MSPs that I’ve talked to that have done plan where for every two new customers they bring in at the new rate you know, at the new stack the way that they’re headed, they can go to one of the existing ones that haven’t been put on the plan yet and they can do the same thing. “Guys, look, we have to put it on this new plan, we’re going in a different direction if you wanna come along, that’s great but if not, we’ll help you find somebody.” And they’ll even find a break/fix or a smaller company that will take that business and now everybody is happy. So there are some ways to do it where everybody looks good and you’re kind of slowly inching into it. I agree with you, you definitely don’t wanna just say, “Okay, I’m firing all these clients that aren’t gonna pay me where I wanna go.” So there has to be a plan to get there.

Defender for AV? Microsoft Security Score. Is Dark Web Monitoring played out?

Jonathan: I wanna go back to security for just a second because you did bring up…and people are responding in the chat too. We got Mike saying, “Defender, good enough, just needs the management, right.” And this is something…I mean, we see this come up more and more often. I worked for an endpoint security startup before Ninja and I even back then, I mean, that was three years ago at this point. But I can see Defender getting better and it’s just continued to improve. I mean that the big thing that kills me is Microsoft keeping some of these really awesome security controls. I’m thinking of like the attack surface reduction rules, some of this stuff with Credential Guard and other things. And they’re keeping it locked behind enterprise plans which really blocks out a lot of people who could really use that. But I mean, as these things filter downstream into cheaper plans, it’s gonna be interesting.

Ken: Yeah, I think M365 is the first right the first piece. You can get into M365 and get pretty decent plans and still get a lot included with it. Some of the Intune pieces and management and now you’re getting some of that multi-tenancy that’s getting added in there. That’s where things are gonna grow a little bit, you’re gonna be able to add some security. And what people don’t understand and I’ve seen a lot of it, some will say to me, “Yeah, I don’t want that I don’t need x, y, and z. I don’t need these things so I don’t wanna buy all that.” It’s the same price. You don’t have to implement it all at once that’s the beauty of some of that stuff. So you buy M365, you can turn some stuff on and then the stuff that’s off, create a roadmap. So now you’re getting a little more sticky with the customer because you have a plan down the line. Like you can plug in certain things and then say…three months down the line, they say, “Oh, you know, we really wanted to talk about that MDM, again, what can we do with that?” Oh, it’s included, you already own it, we just have to implement it.” Now you’re getting projects over time to kind of piece that together. So if you do your homework on some of this stuff and get the education, you can learn how to get these things to work to your point, and actually, even have something a step above Defender with the stuff that’s included with M365.

Jonathan: Yeah, curious if anyone in the chat wants to chime in on this or anyone has experience using…what is it called? The security scorecards, you know that something that…Ken, maybe you can talk about since you’re nodding. But basically, it’s Microsoft’s own internal assessment basically. And it’s something that…I’ve seen a lot of MSPs talk about using as a sales tool.

Ken: Yeah, absolutely. The scorecards are pretty cool, you can definitely do some amazing things. You can run it as a prospect, right. You go walk into a prospect, and you just say, “Hey, we just wanna run this quick little thing for you to show you where you’re at.” And some people will be completely shocked to see, “Holy crap, I have an IT guy, or you know, I have someone taking care of this.” And you’re just showing them the holes…much like efficient simulation, right? You go into a place you say, “I’d love to just check to make sure you’re okay.” If you come in from that approach of “Hey, I’m not trying to sell you anything, I just wanna make sure you’re protected and do the scorecard, do a phishing attack, whatever it may be.” And then come back and say, “Yeah, here’s some places where you need some help. You know, I could write up a thing for you maybe and do something that way. Or, if you wanna have us come in and clean some of this up, we can definitely do that for you.” Especially a phishing attack when you say, “Hey, Sally, and Tom will pretty much click on just about anything and they had no idea that was going on at all.” So yeah, tools like that are great, especially when you’re walking into a prospect. And you’re trying to show them what value you bring to the table as, “Hey, I just wanna educate you if you’re all good here, it won’t matter it’ll be just a, you know, small window your time.

Jonathan: What about…any thoughts about dark web monitoring? This is something obviously…I think it’s kind of…you know, it was a hot thing, maybe a year, a couple years ago or something. It seems like it’s kind of cooled off a little bit. But I mean, I still see it brought up a lot. I think I got some opinions about it but.

Ken: It’s still there. I mean, let’s face it there’s a bunch of technical people on here, right so every single one of them are gonna be like, “I can kind of do the same thing just by going to the [inaudible 00:48:35],” right? [inaudible 00:48:37] see that, you’re not gonna get the reporting. I do believe there’s a place for all these guys doing dark web monitoring, because…for instance, I wouldn’t lay a piece of paper from have I been pawned on someone’s desk and say, “Check this out, right?” It’s scary, but it doesn’t have all that clean look to it, plus, you can’t scale it back. One thing I did back in the day with dark web…and I would still do it now if we could go in person, but when I was an MSP I would do seminars, free seminars for cybersecurity. Sometimes my customers would come sometimes they wouldn’t, whoever would show up. And I would put a document on each one of the desks personalized to them, of their dark web scan with just the initial scan, right? So before I even started talking about anything scary everybody in the room had this paper in front of and they’re going. And just looking at me like, “Holy crap, my CEO is on here.” And that would lead to them at the end of the conversation when I’m talking about credential stuffing and all the things that are going on in the world ,now they’re like, “Crap, I need to talk to this guy.”

So yes, I think they definitely work, you just have to find the right way to get them in front of them so that they can see, “Oh, wow, I need some help I just need to talk to this guy.” Now you have your opportunity for a call to action, when you can show them, “Yes, this is what’s going on. By the way, this is how I can help you.”

Jonathan: Tom conventions, you know it’s something that he would use now, and we’ve talked about before. You’ve talked about how you like it on the vendor side now. But if you were…if you get the crazy itch and you’re gonna throw your hat back in the ring, if you’re gonna do it, how would you go about thinking about your stack?

Tom: I mean, the first thing, I’m probably gonna center it around, it’s gonna be my PSA and RMM. Then I’m gonna look at…because the main thing I wanna do is I wanna center everything around agreement management and automation. So as much as I can get out of that because that’s where my scalability lies. The next thing I’m gonna look for is a really solid quoting tool and the ability to receive payments in as many ways as possible. I don’t wanna…it’s interesting thing I touched on it a little bit. I talk to a lot of MSPs and I hear all these restrictions on how they allow clients to pay. And I’ll tell you what, I don’t care what credit card you have, or what it is, I’m gonna find a way to make it easy as it can be for you to pay me. I’m not gonna tell them “Yes, I would love to do ACH with everyone,” but that doesn’t work for everyone. So I’m gonna tie to those things like I said, the automation, the scalability of my business, agreement management, time entries, and then I’m gonna look at quoting and ease of payment. After that, I’m gonna go after security. And you know, my usual other offerings for things like office 365, and stuff like that, which of course Ken, I’m going to Pax8 for, because I’m gonna simplify. And I don’t just say that because Ken’s on. But I’m gonna simplify getting multiple tools from a single place if possible. I’m gonna try to consolidate that under one company that can provide me a number of these different things that I’m gonna distribute underneath myself to my clients.

Ken: And I even joke about that not even a plug either, because like I said I believe in what I say. One of the reasons why I left doing the MSP for so many years to come to someone like Pax8 is because I believed in what they do. And I say the same thing I talk about it all the time, maybe we should talk about this Tom, I don’t know. But I say, now is a good time to actually throw your hat back in the ring, because you can start from scratch, and you can build it from the ground up. This is what I wanna do, this is who I wanna support, these are the companies that I know will work, plug it right in, and often running. So I think that’s the key. Now I know it’s tougher when you’ve hung a shingle, you know, 2 or 3 or 5 or 10 years ago, and you’re already in the mix of it, it’s much tougher when you’re in the weeds. So don’t make me…please, don’t think I’m telling you, it’s super easy. It’s not when you’re already in the weeds and you’re busy doing all the work. But you have to start making a plan now to get out of the weeds so that eventually you’re not doing this for 20 years in the same spot. I do believe that.

You have make some plans, get hardcore, some things in place that you can take steps to get to the next level. And whatever that level is, again, you can be 20 people, you can be five people wherever you wanna go and get to, there has to be a plan. And that all starts with all the stuff Tom was talking about. You have to get your business in order, what you wanna do. And then what I was talking about of what’s your target, who are you gonna sell to?

Jonathan: Absolutely. I think some topics that we hit on in the past too, and then we’re gonna hit on for our next chat. I’m gonna drop a quick plug for that before we start wrapping up here. So November 18th, is a couple Wednesdays from now, we’re gonna have another live chat and it’s gonna be back at the time of 1 p.m. Eastern it’s a little bit earlier in the day. We’re gonna have Chris Wiser from the Wiser Agency on. And he and Tom are gonna basically do what he and Ken have been doing here talking about their experiences as owners with a focus on what should you be giving away for free, and what should you not be giving away for free. In addition to that, looking at how can you adjust kind of your workloads to pull yourself out of the weeds, so you have more time in order to make some of these bigger strategic decisions? For sure. But you know, just…

Ken: [crosstalk 00:53:45.774] Jonathan, it’s almost like you planned it that [inaudible 00:53:48] kind of goes on and that’s perfect.

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing. So we got about five minutes left I wanna make sure that everybody gets to ask questions. Again, anything…we got Dennis asking about Apple asking peers here. Take these couple minutes to ask people if there’s something that you’re really thinking about you’re trying to choose between, feel free to use the chat, feel free to ask us the questions here too. Tom, before we jump off here…We got Alan saying, “We’re having major issues with AutoMate.” I can’t really speak to that. But if anyone wants to chime in on that, that’s good. Tom, anything else that you wanna hit on here to kind of leave people with?

Tom: My big thing is on the stack. Like I said I will be trying to obtain as many things from fewer vendors as possible. If you’re spending more money with a particular vendor, you’ll get a better deal. So if a vendor has, you know, tools…I mean, I’m not here to pitch what we’re doing, obviously, but you know, we have backups. So I’ll be looking at backup along with my RMM. I’m gonna be looking at integrations between the tools, making sure I’m not picking disparate tools that don’t talk to me other. I’m also gonna look at distribution for picking up as many things as possible, especially if it’s stuff that I use a lot of and I need to apportion licenses often, I wanna simplify those processes. I wanna reduce the amount of time I spend managing those relationships and adding clients so that it’s simplified. And you know, what this often means and I and I consult on this with some people is that, yes, it’s nice to go pick best in breed for everything. But if those tools don’t talk, or it’s hard to acquire new licenses, or roll it out, you might be better off with a lesser tool that integrates with everything or come from a current vendor already. And so I’m putting everything around the scalability of my business and ability to add clients over everything else. And Ken, I thought you might have…as a former owner yourself, you might have some insight in that as well.

Ken: I was just gonna mic drop and walk out, Tom, that was beautiful. Seriously that’s so well said it ties right back to what we were talking about. Just because it’s best to breed doesn’t mean it’s best for you, right that’s what you have to look at it. Best of breed or best for me. What you’re doing…it has to match up to what you’re doing. So yeah, sure one product can be way up here and everybody talks about how great it is but it costs twice what you can afford and it does more than what you need, why are you doing that? Still a great product, but not for what you’re doing. So make sure the tools match what you’re doing. To Tom’s point and some of the things we talked about earlier, when you’re going out and building that stack, again, if you know your identity, you know what your clients look like, you know what they need, just make sure the products work, they have to do what they say they’re gonna do. Other than that, press beyond that best of breed, like Tom said, make sure it’s the best for you and your clients. It’s gonna do everything your clients need that’s more important than whether it’s considered the best because that may be a Gartner high quadrant that’s only for high-end MSPs. Well, of course, they’re all gonna be up there and say that that’s great. But they didn’t, you know, talk to the guys that are four or five people’s small shops that have this great product that works flawlessly for them, but it’s just not big enough and out there in that realm. So I agree with you 100% on that, Tom.

I would say from a stack perspective make sure you break some of this stuff off into buckets, and maybe not make it so cutthroat as Jonathan’s little testing. And I would look at, you know, what do you need for productivity? What do you need for continuity? What do you need for security, and even infrastructure should have its own bucket. But again, infrastructure is something that you can keep on the outside. That’s one of the things you can cut unless you’re finding businesses that need that Azure edge and then you need to, you know, pull that into the fold. But those would be, break them up into the buckets, and then decide which things are gonna fit in your stack. Next big thing identity management and make sure you do your homework technical, because there are companies out there claiming that they do identity, and it’s not full identity. So we have to make sure that that’s going to be the next big thing. Stop managing the devices and start managing the people no matter where they are.

Jonathan: And maybe…I know you don’t wanna name shop too many things. But any other details for that.?

Ken: There’s some coming. I don’t wanna say…like I said, I would never disparage or promote here, especially. But for the MSPs they can do some homework, there’s a couple out there touting that they do identity management, when I dug into it, it wasn’t a true identity management. So you have to be careful, that’s all. Wanna make sure that everybody looks at it, does their homework talks to the security folks. And by the way, this channel has a ton of really good security folks, I would reach out to Tom too and Jonathan and see what these guys have to say. They’ve been in the business a bit as well. But do your homework on it but that will be the next big thing managing the person, right? It’s identity management, it’s the next big thing.

Jonathan: That’s really interesting. And maybe a good point for us to end on is one more thing and that’s decision paralysis, right? Like I see…So we covered this topic we knew it was gonna be a popular one. I’m glad everyone showed up and we had a good active chat about it. We see these posts on Reddit like all the time, right people wanna know, they wanna get other people’s opinions on it. Because even after you’ve done your research, it just seems like sometimes you just wanna get another second opinion before you pull the trigger. But with all the options out there, and the lack of time and everything, it seems like at some point…like any advice for being able to actually just pull the trigger on something? When is enough enough?

Ken: I would say first things first, install it in-house first, we talked about this before, right? Eat your own dog food, drink your own champagne, whatever you want to call it, but it’s true put it in-house first. There’s a number of reasons for that. One, you’re gonna see it fail first before you put it out to your customers, that’s important. They don’t see it it’s much better. Two, your technicians are gonna know the product better. They’re not gonna go on-site or go work some…you know, connect up and say, “I’ve never seen this before we don’t use this.” If I was a customer, I’d be like “What you’re recommending it to me but you guys don’t use that?” My two points would be eat your own dog food, drink your own champagne, put it in-house first no matter what the product is get it in-house first. And then again make your mistakes quick and move on. To your point, don’t sit there and think about it too long because it’s gonna pass you by and then there’s gonna be another shiny tool.

Jonathan: Absolutely. And hopefully, I mean, the community that we’re building here, I mean, you guys in the chat, you know, feel free to connect with each other exchange contact info. Back to Ken’s point about leverage the community. Tom’s got great stories about becoming friends with his biggest competitor or maybe friend is a little bit too generous of a term. But yeah, I mean, leverage people and maybe find a couple of trusted like close-knit people that you can ask for their opinion on something and then go with it. But Tom, any other advice there as a closing note of how to actually pull the trigger on stuff?

Tom: Well, I think my big point when I made a change was I decided…I didn’t know I was gonna sell the business or not. But I decided…I’ve talked about before, the same things that make it so you can sell a business, later on, are the same things that will increase profitability now. And every decision you make, even though you know, we talked you see this shiny ball and this tool looks great, think about in terms of does this let my business scale? Does this make my business more valuable? Does this make it so I can add more contracts and it’s easier to manage? And make your decisions based on that. Does this make my business more profitable and worth more over the long run? And that will usually steer you towards the right tools, the right relationships. You know, like I said, finding distributors is very important. Trying to get more tools from one place if possible. Reducing the number of transactions you’re doing per month. And ultimately making so you can really scale that business up.

Jonathan: All right guys. Well, Ken, thank you so much for taking time today. And thanks, everybody, for joining in the chat, taking a break from the doom scrolling and the constant refreshing, and all that. Really appreciate it. Hopefully, this gave you a good distraction. Hopefully, you learned some things too. Feel free…we’ll have the recording available we’ll be sending out an email in a couple of days. But you can actually just keep this browser open as soon as we stop it. It’ll take about a minute or two tops, but then the recording will be available. I’m also gonna be updating that doc with some more things that we talked about so you’ll have that as well.

But thanks again, everybody for joining we’re gonna be back at it in two weeks with Chris Wiser talking about what to give away for free, what not to give away for free. And, guys, thanks again really appreciate it.

Ken: Thank you, thanks, guys.

Tom: Thanks.

Jonathan: All right, take care everybody. Stay safe.


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