What is The 20?
The 20 is helping managed service providers all across North America solve the puzzle of growth. But what’s the story behind The 20 — where did it come from, and where’s it going?
The 20, like so many things, started out as an idea. It didn’t come to me all at once. It came in pieces, coalescing over time into a vision I just knew I had to make a reality.
But before we get into all of that, a little bit about me and my history in the IT space…
Two Decades of Struggle
I’ve always liked trying things. I learned at a very early age that if you want something, and it’s worth the effort, you go for it. You don’t hem and haw. You don’t let fear get in the way. You get moving.
In the early 90s, I saw an opportunity to make some real money in IT — the industry was clearly on the rise, and I wanted in on the action. So, I bought an IT company in 1992 and geared up to watch it take off.
That first year, things didn’t go as well as I’d been expecting. But I didn’t lose hope. I made adjustments — tweaking what needed tweaking, changing what needed changing — and geared up for a big year two.
But year two wasn’t much better. Growth remained slow. I wasn’t getting anywhere near my goal of breaking $1 million in annual revenue. I’ll be honest — it was a tough time!
Our service wasn’t the problem. When we did get a client, I knew we’d be able to provide them with top-notch service. The problem was getting that client in the first place. The problem was getting that phone to ring.
But I’m stubborn, and I wasn’t going to throw in the towel after a couple of hard years. In fact, I kept at it for eighteen years.
That’s right, I struggled to grow my company for almost two decades. And I’m not ashamed to admit it now — the reason I couldn’t crack $1 million for eighteen years wasn’t bad luck. It was ignorance. I knew IT, and I knew business. But I hadn’t consolidated my knowledge into a single framework for growing my IT business.
But in year eighteen, things changed. Instead of banging my head against the same brick wall, I discovered — well, “fell upon” might be closer to the truth — a better way of doing things. Because I was in the right place at the right time connecting with the right people, I was lucky enough to experience a radical shift in my perspective on how to grow a successful IT company.
The “better way of doing things” I came to embrace is now The 20 — a company that gives managed service providers (MSPs) the tools, knowledge and resources to grow faster and scale more easily.
The 20 represents my desire to help business owners skip the ‘decades of struggle’ I had to endure, and get straight to the fun part: growing like crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a lot to learn from struggle, but I also think that when there’s a faster, easier way to get from point A to point B, you take it! Besides, I’ve spent my life in IT, and it’s my privilege to give back to the industry that’s given me so much. I’ve made my money, and now I’m having a blast helping others make theirs.
That’s enough about me. Let’s talk about what The 20 actually is, and how it’s changing what’s possible for small and mid-sized MSPs.
Strength in Numbers
I mentioned that The 20 started as an idea — a simple “what if” that sparked my curiosity and relit the fire in my belly:
What if we joined forces?
The “we” here refers to separate MSPs, all working on our own separate islands, struggling to grow. After eighteen years of struggle, I stopped asking how I could grow my IT company, and started asking how we could grow our IT companies. This simple shift in perspective had profound consequences and led to the development of The 20’s revolutionary business model.
So, one way to answer the question “What is The 20?” is in terms of who’s in The 20:
The 20 is a group of MSPs who work together, sharing knowledge and resources, along with a US-based 24/7/365 Support Desk and National Footprint, to outsmart, outpace, and outGROW the competition.
A lot of people hear this and assume, given our company’s name, that there are twenty of us — that The 20 consists of twenty MSP members. So let me clear up the confusion…
The 20 has a lot more than twenty members; we’re currently at 180+ members, and we expect that number to hit 500 by 2025.
Bottom line — there’s plenty of room here at The 20! If there’s a ‘tipping point’ where adding new members is no longer conducive to our group’s success, we haven’t even begun to approach it. As The 20 grows, so too do its individual MSP members. The bigger we are, the bigger each one of us can be.
Why, then, are we called The 20, if not for the number of members in our group?
Our name comes from the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. It states that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. In business terms, 20% of the players in a given industry — the “vital few” — get the lion’s share, while everyone else fights over the scraps. “The 20” refers to our commitment to helping MSPs join the “vital few” — i.e., become elite MSPs that dominate the market.
But how does it actually work? How does being a part of The 20 help an MSP become “elite”?
3 Challenges MSPs Must Overcome
We defined The 20 in terms of who’s in it, but we can also define it in terms of what’s in it — the “secret sauce” we’ve distilled from the expertise of hundreds of IT experts and business owners.
Our MSP members are awesome, and it’s no coincidence — we choose to work with business owners with great attitudes and a desire to succeed. That said, you could, in theory, replace our MSP members with other MSPs, and those MSPs would find success the same way our current members have. Why’s that?
Because our model WORKS! Or, as we like to say, this sh*t is awesome! The reason The 20’s approach to MSP growth is so effective is that it helps MSPs solve their 3 biggest pain points:
- Lead Gen
Let’s talk about why each of these is so crucial to growing a successful MSP.
This is where it all starts — where all growth originates: generating leads for your MSP. If your phone (or medium of choice) isn’t ringing, you’re not going to have much success. That’s as certain as death and taxes. But how do you get leads?
Most MSPs rely on word of mouth. While there’s nothing wrong with word of mouth per se, as a primary means for lead generation, it’s not going to cut it. It’s too inconsistent, too difficult to control, and too reliant on your network’s reach. If you want the type of steady growth that will transform your growing IT company into a thriving enterprise, you need to adopt a systematic and scalable approach to lead gen. There’s just no way around it.
This is where The 20 comes in. We take our MSP members’ marketing to the next level using the latest and best strategies for lead gen. Yes, this means we use automation, but automation without a proven system is just a buzzword. Our mature marketing program is committed to not only producing leads for our MSP members, but cultivating those leads, and eventually, guiding them to the finish line.
Is it possible for an MSP owner to figure out all of this stuff on their own? Sure, it’s possible — but why not makes things easier on yourself? You’re busy running a business. Do you really have time to research and test different approaches to marketing and lead gen? By plugging into The 20’s elite marketing, your MSP can start seeing real and measurable results right away.
Lead gen without robust sales is like a great recipe without a cook: useless! If you want to grow your MSP, you need a proven sales process that takes leads and converts them into clients. The key word here is process: your sales efforts need to be systematic and repeatable (i.e., scalable) if you want to see real growth, because in today’s ultra-competitive IT industry, nothing less will suffice.
Remember, B2B sales, especially with technical services like those provided by an MSP, are much more complex than B2C sales. It can take anywhere from 12 to 16 touches just to get an appointment! At The 20, we help our MSP members take their sales to the next level using automation solutions to drive sales cadence. Plain English translation: We use automation to ensure that you interact with prospects frequently enough — and in the right way — to convert them into clients.
The final piece of the puzzle, scale is absolutely essential to MSP growth. Scalability refers to the ability to adjust operations — technical processes, sales, marketing, etc. — to meet greater or lesser demand. The more scalable your MSP’s operations are, the more quickly and easily you can adapt your services to take on more/larger or fewer/smaller clients.
Traditionally, your MSP can only scale up/down by following the ‘Field of Dreams’ method: If you build it, they will come. This approach involves building up your operational capacities by doing things like hiring technicians, and then hoping you’ll get enough clients to
vindicate the front end investment. But if you don’t get those clients, you’ll have — to stick with our baseball metaphor — an empty stadium. Luckily, there’s a better way…
The 20 allows MSPs to scale up and down much more easily; we give our MSP members access to resources like a US-based 24/7/365 Support Desk, which can be utilized on a consumption basis.
So, let’s say a potential client approaches your MSP, but they have way more endpoints than you’re used to dealing with, as well as several locations on the other side of the country. If you’re like most MSPs, you have to tell them, “Sorry, we can’t help you. We don’t have enough people or locations.”
But if you’re a part of The 20, you can tell them, “We got you covered”; your MSP can instantly scale up its operations by reaching into The 20 and pulling the resources you need to serve the larger client. Other MSPs in The 20 can ‘come to the rescue,’ and since MSPs in The 20 all share a single service delivery model, you don’t need to tell your ‘extended MSP family’ how you do business to bring them up to speed. That’s the beauty of The 20 model, and the key to our members’ unrivalled growth.
Future-Proof Your MSP with The 20’s Blueprint
It’s an exciting time to be an MSP. The market is expanding rapidly (one reputable study predicts that it will grow from $242.9 billion in 2021 to $354.8 billion by 2026). However, it’s also getting more competitive, and small and mid-sized MSPs will be left fighting over scraps unless they can figure out a way to compete with ‘the big boys’ (check out my Forbes article for a more technical breakdown of what’s happening in the MSP space).
The 20 can help your MSP be ‘bigger than it is,’ so that you can remain competitive in an increasingly crowded industry. When you become a member of The 20, you don’t give up your business, you just augment it with our powerful platform for growth and the collective expertise of our community of world-class MSPs.
Life’s too short to wait on greatness. So don’t be like me and wait until eighteen years have gone by to start working smarter. The 20’s blueprint doesn’t make sense for every MSP, but if it makes sense for yours, get in touch with us today and start your growth journey now.