Who should your first 3 hires be when starting an MSP?

Illustration: Ram Prasath


Startups live and die by the people working for them.

Hiring is more than posting a few hiring ads or interviewing a few people to see if they can recite how to troubleshoot a DNS server backward.

Hiring mistakes are costly. Especially when it’s your early hires. They set the stage for what your business is set out to become in the future. As an MSP, you’re probably a technician switching between managing your client environments, marketing your services, looking after your finances, and finding clients to grow your business.

Your hiring goal is probably to get an expert technician so you can hand over the day-to-day and move on to high-value work. For someone else, it could be hiring a marketer or a salesperson because they feel they lack the expertise.

You don’t want to pay an accountant $60000 a year when you have not crossed $60000 a year in turnover. Nor don’t you want to hire for sales when you don’t have enough techs to manage the clients they’ll bring in. 

Who you want to hire first depends on the gaps you want to fill, your skills that need complementing, and what your immediate business needs are.

We talk to MSPs and IT service providers like you day in and day out, and most of them hire for these three roles when starting out. 

Help desk technician tier I / Help desk technician tier II

You know what it’s like to answer client questions, do field visits, set up their infrastructure, and ensure correct bookkeeping all by yourself. Everything probably went well until you saw yourself burning out, all over the place, looking for a way out. You need extra hands. Whether you manage one endpoint or a thousand. You’re not a technician anymore, but a business owner. 

The more time you spend doing tactical work, the less time you have to spend on strategies that will take your business forward. It’s time you fired yourself from the day-to-day of your business. Most MSPs have had success with hiring a mid-level or senior-level technician as their first employee. They need minimal handholding, can cover for you, and most importantly, leave little for you to pick up after. They assess, jump in, and just go at it.

Once the groundwork is set up, you can hire a slightly junior technician who can take up the smaller tasks as your senior tech shifts their focus from task-based work to efficiency-based work.

Field technician

“So I can send my in-house technician on a few field trips here and there. Won’t I save a lot this way?” Not in the long run. Establishing client relationships and traveling for a major part of the day isn’t for everyone. Moreover, you might end up covering for them when they’re not at the office, defeating the whole purpose of hiring someone. 

Your field technicians give a voice to the face of your business. You can also pull them in for attending community events and partnership-building exercises as they have lots of experience interacting with clients.

More techs/ Marketing/ Sales/ Admin/ Finance/

Hear me out. Once you have your bases covered, i.e., someone to provide support to clients and solve issues, you have to move on to hiring for what your business needs the most. Do you have a growth plan in mind? A predictable sales engine is all you need? Hire a sales guy.

Many MSPs don’t hire for sales or marketing until they’ve crossed a sizeable revenue. But there’s no formula to it. A tip that always works is, to hire contract employees for roles you’re not sure of hiring. Run a few ideas by them. See if the roles have a business impact, and when you’re confident, you can either convert them into full-time employees or hire new people.

But most importantly, what do you hate the most?

This can never go wrong. When confused, ask yourself, what part of your business do you hate the most? What eats up most of your time?

There you go, that’s whom you hire first.  

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