June 19, 2020
Partner Perspectives: Gerald Meyer-Heinrich, Webcom Solutions
Over 14 years ago, Gerald Meyer-Heinrich started Webcom Solutions, a small business offering web and computer solutions. What began as a side hustle has grown to be a full-time career. We interviewed Gerald to learn more about his experience as an MSP with Datto. We also asked him to share insights on what it's like to be a solopreneur and how he is transitioning from a break fix to a managed service provider business model.
What are some challenges you've faced while growing your business?
For one, I'm the only IT support person in the business at the moment. Sometimes it's nice to have someone else to bounce ideas off. I've worked for MSPs in the past; I know the benefits of the platform. It's just hard doing everything by myself. I want to lay a solid platform to grow so I can slowly get off the tools and move to strategy, after nearly 30 years of end-user support. My goal is to run the business, not work in it. I've paid my dues crawling under desks.
My wife is a web developer and is involved in the business. Her expertise allows us to provide web design and digital marketing to some of our IT clients as well as clients who are only looking for web services. One challenge is developing a ticketing system in Autotask PSA that works for that side of the company, but we're committed to working through it and perfecting it.
Shifting to MSP is enabling me to target more prominent clients and hire staff. You can only bill so many hours per week as a solopreneur. To prosper, you need to have a solid base. Quality systems can enable this, and my experience with Datto's platforms and support has been great.
How long have you been a Datto Partner, and how did you decide to go with Datto?
I have been a Datto partner for three months now. I chose Datto because of their competitive prices and the sheer scale of what you get for your money. The RMM and PSA solutions offer a ton of value, and the MarketNow application was a bonus. I can now efficiently run marketing campaigns with a small team. I also liked the fact that the Datto hardware is easy to install, configure, and maintain.
In terms of selling the value of those solutions to clients? I find the words "Business Continuity" to be a great selling point. The fact that I can keep their business up and running with less stress is a massive feather in my cap.
Has Datto helped your business as you transition from Break Fix to MSP?
Datto has provided a lot of support in implementing their software, and this training has been vital. When you first log on, the sheer scope of PSA can be overwhelming. The implementation training and portal has made the transition easier. I'm still making mistakes, but I know where to look to fix them now.
Also, Datto has helped me communicate the value of my services to my clients, allowing me to transition three of my biggest clients to a Managed Services model and a monthly maintenance agreement. We still have a way to go with automation, but I'm enjoying the challenge.
As an MSP, how do you want your clients to feel about your business? What do you want their experience with you to be?
I want my business to be professional and have the tools and look of the channel's big players. The Datto platform has enabled me to start this journey. To grow, I have transitioned my clients from communicating via phone and text, reaching me through the PSA platform. This visibility gives my clients a greater appreciation of all the work I do for them as they can see every task done in their portal and on their invoice.
Has COVID-19 affected your business, and if so, how?
Yes. I've probably lost 50% of my business. However, with my three largest clients on an MSP contract, I have guaranteed income coming in that I didn't before. Some of my clients are using the downtime to perform much-needed network upgrades, which has been positive for them and me.
The web development side of the business is crazy busy with clients hastily launching eCommerce platforms in response to the current global health crisis.
What advice can you share for other individuals looking to start a business as a solopreneur?
My most significant piece of advice is to find a mentor. Someone who has been successful in business and can point you in the right direction. Who isn't afraid to tell you that a decision you have made is the wrong one and will keep you motivated when times get tough. Because running your own business isn't all plain sailing.