Planning and research
Take the time to scope out your competitors. By doing the research first, you can identify gaps in the market, and be in a good position to differentiate your offering. What needs are not being met? How could you do things better? Once you have a clear idea of what your offering will be, and you’re sure you have a market for it, you’ll be in a position to develop your business plan around this.
As an IT consultancy, you can be so much more than the IT guy who comes in to the office twice-monthly. But when starting out, avoid trying to do too many things. “If there’s something you know you want to do, don’t be afraid of sticking to it,” Paul of Maindec advises. “Don’t switch about too much, and don’t jump on the bandwagon of new fashions. If you start going down one path, stay focused on that. Stick to what you’re confident with. Don’t be distracted.”
First step in planning: decide on your speciality. Here are some starting points:
In addition to a basic helpdesk and field-visit package, why not complement existing in-house IT teams by offering user training and support? Actively identify user training requirements. You might provide IT infrastructure audits and reviews as well as designing services and putting them in place. Your expertise can be sold as a value-added deal.
The security pro
As well as offering a helpdesk, you could be the firewall to end all firewalls. If you can demonstrate that your service can minimise potential security threats, you’ll be every business’ best friend.
The remote in control
Your field engineers could have a much wider reach if they facilitated remote working for the networked generation. Your company might specialise in remote access methodologies for key workers.
The real-time king
Be the helpdesk with psychic powers. You could promise to fix the IT headache before it affects your clients. Offer monitoring and maybe even provide a time promise: “Our engineers will resolve your issue in 50 minutes or….”? You could even offer clients updates and real-time tracking of live support issues over an extranet.
Plan to do what you’re good at first, then build up a client base. Other things will follow. As Roger of Maindec says: “IT hardware support is the basic offering. What generally happens is once you start offering one thing, your clients like what they get and they ask for more. You end up having to provide more. If you’re good, then you’ll be able to carve a niche for yourself.”
Once you’ve got your niche, do your needs analysis…and plug all the gaps!