I get calls all the time about how to start up a cybersecurity practice. Cybersecurity is fast becoming one of the biggest areas in the startup scene, and it’s no wonder why – the cybersecurity market is thriving, and by 2022 it’s expected to grow to $224.48 billion in revenue.
There are varying degrees of what a cybersecurity business does. Some of our clients have been doing this for years, and they’re now taking their businesses to the next level. What it all comes down to is what you can provide, like firewalls, anti-virus, Dark-Web scanning, alien-vault devices, monitoring log management, etc. In my opinion, you need all the tools you can afford.
A critical element when starting any business is the investment in your team and your tools. You must know your limitations. Do your research to determine what cybersecurity solutions your clients need today and in the future. It’s essential that you know your target audience and their requirements before you set up shop. Like anything else, the more you spend on security solutions, the less likely your clients will experience a breach. You have to weigh this against what you can afford to provide.
Too few start-ups truly understand their market and head in the wrong direction. You must develop a business plan explaining what problems you’ll be solving and who it is you’ll be solving them for. Only then can you develop the team and tools you need to get going. Furthermore, you must know who you’ll be marketing to, what’s expected and what you can provide.
Determine what you can and cannot provide, how you’re going to build your services and what your cybersecurity business will look like at the end of the year. Just like anything else, there’s a cost for this. You can’t afford everything. You need to realize that you won’t be able to stop every attack or breach, but that you can mitigate the damage. According to Gartner Analyst Earl Perkins, you should take some of the money that you’re spending on prevention solutions and use it on solutions for detection and response. I often hear MSPs say, “But my small customers don’t need all that”. I tell them to “stop cheapening your client”. It’s better to have security measures in place they don’t need right now because, with cybercrime, you just don’t know what’s coming down the road. Look at what your clients need today and take it to the next level, so they’ll be protected against whatever threats may come.
What will my clients expect in the end? Peace of mind. You know you can’t provide guarantees, but this is what they’ll expect – that nothing will happen to their data. Unfortunately, you’ll have to explain to them that there are no guarantees. If you don’t, something will get through, and you’ll be to blame. No matter how great security solutions are, sometimes they fail. What you can do is be honest and tell them if they want a higher level of security, they’ll have to pay for it. They may not like this, but it’s the truth. When it comes to cybersecurity, credibility is so important. Trust is also essential in this equation – but, trust goes both ways. Make sure you offer security awareness training and education for your clients’ employees. If they aren’t trained to recognize phishing attempts and cybersecurity threats, all your efforts can be defeated. If you offer training and they don’t accept it, you can’t be entirely at fault if they’re breached.
What about marketing a cybersecurity business? Stop selling and build relationships. Once you do, the sale will come. You can do this without spending money by using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I know I’ve always told my MSP clients that they must think of themselves as a “Marketing Company That Specializes in Tech”. This is true, but today, using media to market is so important that I’m going to change this to a “Media Company that Specializes in Tech”. Reach out and educate your prospects about cybersecurity with media like videos, webinars, blogs, etc. Provide them easy-to-use cybersecurity tips to promote your services. This will help you stand out from other MSPs. Email them one tip per week, provide them with downloadable cybersecurity reports via email or your website, hold cybersecurity webinars or live seminars in your local area. When spending money on social media, a Facebook ad campaign will give you the best return today. All of this will promote you as a cybersecurity expert and build that sense of trust that’s so necessary in order to succeed in this business. It will also help you get a foot in the door.
How do I better leverage my webinar series? Once you have a webinar, you can use it for a multitude of things. Share it wherever you can. For example, if you have a company you’d like to reach out to, email them and offer to send your webinar for free. This way their employees can watch it when they have the time. With your name on the webinar, you’re building trust and brand recognition. Share information on secure passwords, how to recognize phishing emails and practical how-to tips that help a company’s employees contribute to a strong cybersecurity posture. Your prospect might not need you now, but when they do, they’ll remember you. You’re now a partner with them because you’ve helped them overcome a pain point, and as a result, you’ll be their go-to cybersecurity business. (Check out Ulistic’s Webinar as a Service product. We’re your go-to experts for MSP Marketing.)
What other vehicles can we use to promote our business? Go to Chamber of Commerce and other local events. Scope out who your influencers are and build relationships with them. Hold educational seminars and invite local businesses. Remember, it’s all about building relationships. Once you do this, you can ask them to introduce you to their networks. Find the people in your community who can help you make a difference. Once you have that relationship established, email them your webinars, send them interesting articles that you know they’ll appreciate and keep “selling” without actually “selling”. If they know what you do, and when they need it, they’ll come to you first. Relationship building for some people comes naturally. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to work at it or hire someone to do it for you.
Where can I find a small budget answer? Check out our Marketing in a Box. Below are some of the services we provide for only $97 per month. For a small investment of money and a little time on your part, we guarantee that you’ll get results! Email me, and I’ll tell you more.
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL and Fort Erie, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.