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The 6-step guide to launching a successful MSP business

Unlock the ultimate blueprint for building your MSP business from the ground up.

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Last updated on: May 14, 2024

Starting an MSP business can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Just like any journey, the first step is often the most important and daunting. A Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, once said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." With the right preparation and guidance, anyone can make sure that first step is the right step, and start off their journey right to succeeding as an MSP business owner.

The MSP industry is estimated to be worth USD 275.5 billion today, and seeing the increasing demand for outsourced IT services, the managed services market is projected to reach USD 372.6 billion by 2028. In order to succeed in this industry, you should carefully consider all aspects before starting your business.

In this article, we will explore six essential steps to help you get started on this exciting venture:

  • Building a robust business plan
  • Acquiring the required licenses and permits
  • Building your MSP service portfolio and pricing structure
  • Building your MSP workforce with a strong focus on customer service
  • Developing your MSP marketing strategy
  • Investing in the right tools and technology

Building a robust business plan

MSP business plan

Before starting an MSP business, it is important to conduct thorough research into the industry, market trends, and competitive landscape in the region. Identify a specific area to focus on that aligns with your business model and objectives, understand the services you can offer, the clients you want to target, and the resources you need.

Creating a business model canvas (a blueprint) of your business can help you understand the intricacies and details of the venture. For an example, have a look at the sample we have created specifically for a generic MSP business:

Key partnerships

Key activities

Value propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

  • Remote monitoring and management partner
  • Other service delivery tool providers
  • Marketplace vendors
  • Traditional IT vendors, value added resellers (VARs)
  • Disaster and recovery management services
  • Back up management services
  • Basic IT security tools and services
  • Service desk (onsite and remote)
  • Projects
  • Resell, cross-sell, upsell
  • Outsourced IT team
  • Provide and manage IT infrastructure
  • Efficiency and cost savings
  • Expertise and proactive management
  • Scalability and agility
  • Business transformation and growth
  • Service desk
  • Account management
  • Small and medium enterprises

Key resources


  • Key employees
  • Client relationships
  • Technical expertise
  • Implemented IT service management frameworks
  • Trade events
  • Workshops
  • Inbound marketing
  • Referrals
  • Digital marketing
  • Networking

Cost structure

Revenue streams

  • IT tools (hardware and software stack)
  • Consumables
  • HR
  • Infrastructure
  • Travel
  • Resource-based recurring revenue
  • Resource-based project revenue
  • Recurring marketplace commission
  • Third-party project revenue
  • Implementation revenue

Table 1: Business model canvas for a generic managed service provider

The business model canvas is a very important tool to provide a visual representation of the key components of a business model. For budding MSPs, the business model canvas is especially important, as it provides a framework for creating a comprehensive business plan that can be used to attract investors and customers.


Acquiring the required licenses and permits

MSP licenses

Your next step is obtaining the necessary licenses and permits. It is essential for operating your business in compliance with the law. The specific prerequisites may differ depending on your geographical location. Here's a breakdown of some common types of licenses and permits required based on different geographical locations:

General business licenses

Commercial/business registration

A basic registration as a business entity, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, is a common requirement for any country.

Tax registration

Registration for relevant taxes, including income tax, sales tax, and payroll taxes, will be required and might vary according to different countries.

Industry-specific licenses

IT services license

Thisi s a specific licenses for businesses offering IT services like remote monitoring and management.

Data protection license

A license under data protection regulations like the GDPR (EU) or the CCPA (California) may be required if you handle sensitive data like personal information.

Cybersecurity license

Cybersecurity licenses for companies handling critical infrastructure data will be required for some regions (e.g., Singapore).

Telecom license

A telecom license may be required if your services involve managing VoIP or other telecommunications systems.

Additional permits and registrations

Business permits

Additional permits may be required by MSPs to run their business in jurisdiction of certain localities.

Environmental permits

Environmental permits may be necessary if your operations involve specific materials or processes.

Software vendor licenses

Vendor licenses may need to be obtained for commercial purposes depending on the software utilized to provide services.

Regional requirements


The licensing requirements differ from state to state, and certain states may not require specific licenses for MSPs.


Each EU member state has its own regulations for MSPs, so navigating through this requires specialized guidance.


IT services and data handling have been regulated through licensing systems in countries such as India and Singapore.

Table 2: Licenses and permits required for starting an MSP business

Beyond these, you will need to set up a business account, get insurance to protect your business from potential risks, and get legal and compliance advice from a lawyer and accountant to ensure you haven't missed anything.


Building your MSP service portfolio and pricing structure

MSP services

The pricing structure for your MSP business should be customized based on the following factors:

  • Size of the customer's business: The bigger the business gets, the higher the costs associated with running it. It is crucial to select a pricing model that offers flexibility and scalability.
  • Range of the services: The total scope of your services that you're planning to offer is a major factor in deciding the pricing model. If you're offering a lot of services together, you can go with a subscription-based pricing model such as tiered or flat-rate. If you want to offer more affordable options, then you can go with the a la carte, or per-device, or per user pricing model.
  • Type of industry: Your choice of industry can be another deciding factor. For instance, for the healthcare industry, you'll need a pricing model that offers fixed and predictable costs, whereas for industries such as retail, you'll need a model that offers more flexibility and is more user focused.
  • Geographical location: If you are considering offering your services abroad, you need to factor in the cost of living in different parts of the world and the prices offered by your competitors in your clients' regions when deciding upon pricing models.

It is essential to contemplate the value you bring, what your competitors are offering, and what it takes for you to deliver your services. While there are many MSP pricing models available, we have listed some widely used pricing models and their pros and cons for you to evaluate:

Pricing model

Pros and cons


A flat-fee billed per device, per month


  • Costs are predictable each billing cycle.
  • Expenses and budgets are easy to forecast for your clients.
  • It's easy to charge more as customers increase the number of devices.
  • Small businesses will prefer this due to the lower number of devices.


  • If no more devices are added, raising price becomes hard for MSPs.
  • The complexity of different devices isn't taken into account.
  • Changing user needs isn't taken into account.
  • BYOD and remote work increases the complexity of service delivery.
  • As the number of devices increases, it can become quite costly for growing businesses in the long term.


A flat-fee billed per user, per month


  • This model is scalable and accommodates businesses with multiple devices per user.
  • It's easy to manage and track.
  • It's easy to charge more as customers increase the number of end users.


  • It might not cover costs of managing complex devices or high-maintenance users.
  • Changing user needs isn't taken into account.
  • It doesn't incentivize resource optimization.


Offerings are divided into different tiers based on cost and services involved in each tier


  • Tiered plans are offered by most new-age MSPs.
  • These plans offer flexibility for clients with different needs and budgets.
  • They can generate higher revenue from larger clients.


  • They can be complex to administer and explain to clients.
  • There's a risk of under-selling or over-selling services.
  • They don't incentivize resource optimization.

All-you-can-eat (AYCE)

A fixed price for a complete range of services


  • AYCE offers consistency and predictability for both MSPs and clients.
  • Clients appreciate the simplicity of budgeting to prevent unexpected changes in billing.


  • AYCE fails to account for usage variations, leading to potential billing inefficiencies for MSPs.
  • It doesn't incentivize growth or optimization.

A la carte

A designated fee for each type of services


  • This model aligns costs with actual service usage.
  • It encourages efficient resource management.
  • Increasing client activity can lead to higher profitability.


  • It requires complex metering and billing systems.
  • Clients often don't like unpredictable costs.
  • There's a risk of client dissatisfaction if usage spikes.

Value based

Charges based on the value of services offered


  • This plan focuses on the value delivered to clients, leading to higher perceived value and willingness to pay.
  • It builds strong client relationships.


  • It can be challenging to quantify value and set prices.
  • It requires strong sales skills and client education.

Table 3: MSP pricing models and their pros and cons

The pricing models you choose should meet the requirements of your customers. By utilizing a suitable pricing strategy, you can guarantee that you are delivering the best possible value for your services while also maximizing your profits.

After choosing an apt pricing model, the next step is to create a bundle of service offerings, or a service portfolio. To create your service portfolio, you can categorize your services based on various models that cater to different types of customers. For instance, an MSP service portfolio could include:

1. Core services: Start with essential offerings like IT service desk, endpoint management, and network monitoring.

2. Value-added services: Differentiate yourself with specialized services (like cloud migration, disaster recovery planning, or business continuity strategies).

3. Tiered packages: Offer different service levels (like bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) to cater to diverse customer needs and budgets.


Building your MSP workforce with a strong focus on customer service

MSP workforce

To succeed as an MSP, your workforce is the key. You'll need a team of skilled technicians to provide quality IT support to your customers. If you're looking to start small, you can start with hiring just two to three techs and scale as you grow. For instance, if you're simply looking to offer help desk and service desk support, two to three techs will easily be able to handle customers with the right set of tools. However, some services may be more frequently used and would require a slightly bigger team to deal with the same number of customers.

Hiring a team

Hiring employees or outsourcing services are both viable options for building a team. On average, MSP help desk technicians earn around $55K annually, so it's important to make sure personnel are paid well to reduce attrition, which is getting quite high (40-50%) in start-ups. Alternatively, if you're looking to start your MSP business as a partnership with a group of people (minimum of three) with knowledge in different facets of this industry, you may be able to start without hiring any technicians in the initial stage.

Making customer service a priority

It is essential for technicians to be properly trained and possess the required skills to complete their assigned tasks and projects. Clear direction and expectations should be provided as well as feedback and recognition for a job well done. Additionally, having the right tools and resources available is critical to ensure technicians can complete their tasks on time and avoid SLA violations. Above all, a workforce that prioritizes customer service is crucial for achieving success as an MSP.

Developing your MSP marketing strategy

Creating an efficient marketing strategy for your MSP business is very important for achieving success. It should encompass a clear-cut approach to effectively reach your target audience, incorporating a combination of online and offline marketing techniques.

Tips to ace MSP marketing for beginners

MSP buyer persona

Define a buyer persona for an MSP

A buyer persona is a detailed representation of your ideal customer, providing insight into their specific needs, desires, and behaviors. It helps you gain a deeper understanding of your target audience and effectively tailor your marketing efforts to meet their preferences.

Curate the website according to buyer persona

Understand the wants and needs of your ideal customer and craft content that speaks to them. Incorporate language and visuals that will be meaningful to your target audience, and ensure that your website is simple to navigate.

MSP website
MSP campaigns

Plan and execute the three key marketing campaigns

A successful marketing strategy for MSPs involves the right mix of these campaigns: content, email, and social media marketing.

Execution of these three campaigns are essential for reaching B2B customers and ensuring continuous inflow of organic traffic and lead generation.

Don't forget about SEO

SEO helps to increase your website's visibility to potential MSP customers when they search for the services you offer. It is the process of optimizing your website and content, using targeted keywords, creating backlinks, and more, so that your website ranks higher on search engine result pages.

MSP promotions

MSP marketing is not just about written content

Organize podcasts, webinars, and attend MSP-specific trade shows and events. These marketing activities will help with brand visibility, capture the mind-space of your potential customers, and ultimately work as a step in the direction of establishing you as a leader in your field.

Track numbers, review them, rework them, and repeat

It's the ultimate measure of any successful marketing strategy. It's always a number game; the more you track, the better you know what works and what doesn't. It will help you improvise, plan, and execute marketing strategies more effectively in future.

Marketing strategies

It is also important to develop a strong brand identity once you get going, as this will make your business more recognizable and memorable. Building a strong reputation for quality and reliability is also essential, as this will help you attract and retain clients.


Investing in the right tools and technology

MSP management tools

You'll need to invest in the right tools and technology to manage your business and provide services to your clients. Your MSP tech ecosystem needs to be comprised of the right combination of software and hardware tools (see images 5 and 6) in their arsenal.

MSP tools

Image 5: Software arsenal for MSPs

MSP tech stack

Image 6: Hardware arsenal for MSPs

However, choosing the right solutions can be overwhelming with the vast array of options available. To help you navigate this process, here are some key things you need to keep in mind:

Evaluate your requirements and budget

Before building your MSP tech stack, it's important to evaluate your requirements and budget. This involves focusing on your niche and determining your target client base and its specific needs, such as cybersecurity, cloud services, and network monitoring. These considerations will guide your technology choices. Additionally, it's important to prioritize core functionalities, such as PSA, ticketing, remote monitoring, patching, and reporting. Start with affordable, essential solutions and scale up as your business grows. When budgeting, consider both upfront costs and ongoing subscriptions.

Make investments in essential tools

When starting out as an MSP, it's crucial to prioritize the most essential tools. Here are some commonly required tools for MSPs to effectively kick-start their businesses:

  • Professional service automation (PSA): Manage accounts and resources, track projects, automate billing and invoicing, generate reports, and more.
  • Service desk solution: Streamline service delivery, ticketing, and changes and releases; keep up on client-specific knowledge bases; and oversee IT and non-IT assets, among other ITSM processes.
  • Service desk solution: Streamline service delivery, ticketing, and changes and releases; keep up on client-specific knowledge bases; and oversee IT and non-IT assets, among other ITSM processes.
  • Endpoint management and security: Secure client devices with antivirus solutions, anti-malware solutions, firewall solutions, and more.
  • Backup and disaster recovery: Protect data from accidental loss or cyberattacks.

...and don't forget

When choosing tools for your business, remember to consider security, scalability, integration, and training and support. Give priority to tools with robust security measures and the ability to adapt and expand with your client base. Additionally, select solutions that seamlessly integrate with each other and your current systems, and allocate resources for training your team to ensure a successful implementation.

What can ServiceDesk Plus MSP offer you?

ServiceDesk Plus MSP is a comprehensive service desk solution for MSPs, providing a comprehensive platform with PSA and ITSM capabilities in a single, secure, scalable, and flexible package. With its AI-powered predictive capabilities, extensive automation options, and data-driven insights, MSPs can quickly address customer issues, make better decisions, and stay ahead of the competition. Plus, its reports and dashboards provide invaluable data-driven insights to monitor productivity and make informed decisions for your business.



With these points in mind, you're now ready to take that first step towards building your MSP business. And since starting an MSP business can be a challenging experience, we have created a guide to running a successful managed services business. This will help provide you with the tools to build your business from ground up.

Here's to building a new MSP business and succeeding at it.


Aditya Oswal

Author's bio

Aditya Oswal is a product marketer at ManageEngine, A division of Zoho Corp., where he drives several marketing initiatives and contributes with marketing collaterals on all levels. He has authored guides on managed service providers (MSPs), PSA software, and field services management for MSPs in addition to managing various user education and thought leadership webinars addressing ITSM challenges experienced by enterprises worldwide. He specializes in organizing campaigns for product releases, user education programs, and more for ManageEngine's flagship ITSM products and shares a keen interest in managed services and the customer support industry.