An Interview with Paul Croker
Paul Croker is the founder of 18IT. Paul describes his business as doing IT differently, with a cup of tea and some rock and roll. He is a Pax8 partner, and explains how they support MSP growth.
He aims to make the complex simple, and seeks to help small and medium sized enterprises protect what is important to them, and to their clients.
The Transition From Corporate IT to Business Owner
Paul says the biggest challenge to becoming a business owner was no longer being part of a big team. “There were around 200 people in my team and we’d talk daily. Moving to being a solo person meant there was nobody to bounce ideas off.
“I had nobody to help me decide how to do things, and if things go wrong there’s nobody to call. You don’t know how to move things forward, but it’s on you so you have to make it work. MSP growth is slower on your own.”
The Tools Paul uses for MSP Growth
18IT use a range of tools; some fairly standard, such as CSP with Microsoft. The business supports Apple, Mac and PC products, which each require different tools. They use ConnectWise for remote management and other areas. Paul adds that:
“We rely on our vendors to give us the right tools to be able to do the job that we need. It takes a lot of time for us to research all the options to see if a product will add value to our business.
“Our clients need certain tools that do certain things. It’s important for me to partner with the right suppliers. I work hard on building partner relationships, because I think they’re key to my business.”
Paul’s Working Relationship with Pax8
Paul explains that his relationship with Pax8 is very different to any he’s had with other vendors. They know that he’s knowledgeable about the tech he and his clients need. They don’t sell to him, but they do support him.
“They’ve got the right products, which makes it easier to utilise. They know time is restricted for us, so they present invoices with clear breakdowns. We can see who’s had what over the previous month.”
Plus, the team have a lot of technical expertise, so customer support is excellent. Paul engages with the support department regularly. “It’s like having other people on your team. There can be an ‘us and them’ culture between MSPs and vendors. But being inclusive and breaking barriers down is a good thing.”
How Pax8 Help Paul with MSP Growth
Paul says Pax8 do a lot to help him, but he attributes much of it to the relationship they’ve built together. He asked lots of questions about the platform right at the beginning, and Pax8 responded positively. They asked how they could help 18IT and support MSP growth.
“I showed interest in what they offered, so they were interested in me. They looked at what they could do to help the business do more. They want their MSP partners to do well, and to be part of that success.”
The Biggest Challenge in Running an IT Business
The biggest challenge was going from a standing start, says Paul. “I had a vision; I knew what to do. But how do I start? There aren’t obvious steps to follow that take you straight to being successful.
“It’s taken time to get going, build traction and find my voice. It’s not easy to get going and be a fully functional MSP. How do you stand out from the competition? MSP growth takes time too, but it’s getting there.”
Paul’s Favourite Thing About Running an IT Business
“The IT industry is very diverse. In the corporate world, there’s a clear and defined roadmap. The toolset, budget and activities are all planned out for the year ahead. It’s straightforward.
“When you run your own business, every day is a school day. There’s always something happening that you didn’t anticipate. You’re always putting out fires and working out how to fix problems. And thinking how to stop it happening again. Solutions like Pax8 really help.”
Who Inspires Paul to MSP Growth
Paul is inspired and supported by Mike Breeze and Phylip Morgan at Pax8, and says Simon Rosemeyer has been helpful. “I’ve got people outside the IT industry as well. I’ve connected virtually with Timothy Hughes. He’s done a lot of marketing and social marketing books. I use his knowledge and information quite a lot.
“Andy Bounds is another inspiration. I’ve read some of his books and subscribe to his newsletters. They’re all fantastic and add value in their own way. My dad used to say ‘Be a sponge and absorb information from people who already know things. Then you can add your own value.’”
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Mentioned in This Episode
- The Tech Tribe
- Simon Rosemeyer
- Timothy Hughes
- Andy Bounds