Monday, May 21, 2018

If I Were to Start an MSP Again . . . Richard Tubb Hosts a 3-Part Webinar Series

My good friend, fellow coach, and podcasting co-conspirator Richard Tubb has announced a cool three-part webinar series entitled If I were to start an MSP again: The 3 Steps Successful MSPs implement in Operations.

This webinar series is in association with Kaseya and kicks off tomorrow!

Tuesday
May 22nd
1500 BST

Which is like 10 AM Eastern
or maybe 7 AM Pacific

Note: Once you register, you should get a calendar note with the correct local time for you.

- - - - -

From Richard's Announcement:

It’s a series of three webinars that I’m *really* excited about and I hope you can join me for!

An intriguing question I’ve been asked by a lot of IT Solution Provider and Managed Service Provider (MSP) owners in the past few months is “If you were to start an MSP again, what would you do about…” operations/sales/marketing/working with partners/everything else!

I love answering the question, and so when, Kaseya, a market leader in IT management software, asked me if I’d be interested in joining them for a series of practical, MSP-focused webinars, Kaseya agreed that it would be a great topic to cover!

The 3 Steps Successful MSPs implement in Operations
The first webinar in our series will focus on making your MSP service desk run more efficiently and smoothly, or as I like to say, “How to run your Service Desk while retaining your sanity!”

All three of the webinars will be very interactive presentations containing practical, real-world, applicable tips on how you can run a great MSP business in today’s business environment.

I’m delighted to be joined by Jim Lippie, General Manager of Cloud Computing at Kaseya. Jim has helped hundreds of MSPs worldwide increase their sales and profitability. He’s the perfect host for this webinar!

If you were to start an MSP again, what would you do about Operations?

Register for the Webinar here: http://info.kaseya.com/richard-tubb-msp-operations.html

This series of webinars are free to attend, and even if you can’t make the live events, you should register to be sent details of the on-demand recording.

- - - - -

Note: You can always follow Richard at http://www.tubblog.co.uk - and you should!

Enjoy!
:-)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Deep Work - Stay Focused!

I'm about halfway through Deep Work by Cal Newport. Really great book.

I love the whole concept of Deep Work versus shallow work. Too many people no longer manage to work deeply. Deep Work refers to totally immersed, focused attention.

Of course this fits perfectly with my personal mission to avoid distractions. Our society (and especially our technology) are 100% geared toward distractions. We fool ourselves into thinking we are more productive when we divide our attention more and more.

Most people actually feel nervous and anxious if you force them to turn off their phone, turn off Facebook, turn off email, and so forth. All of those things can give us a dopamine buzz, but that just feels good - it's not productive!

Ten years ago, the common advice was that you should not leave your laptop plugged in all the time because the battery would wear out sooner (This is less true with newer technology.). What happened when you never let the battery wear down is that it developed a "memory" that it only needed to charge a little bit. So when you finally did unplug the laptop, the batter wore out fast because it never got a deep charge.

Your attention span is the same way. Sometimes you need to sit in a distraction free environment in order to let your brain learn how to operate without the distractions. But those distractions are counter-productive. Quiet and solitude are much more productive.

Many people self-diagnose themselves as ADD or ADHD because they can't stand doing nothing, or doing only one thing at a time. They like the feeling of bouncing from one thing to another. In most cases, this simply amounts to the fact that they have lost the ability to sit quietly because they haven't practiced that skill.

I can't count how many people have told me that they can't meditate or they can't sit quietly in a chair for ten minutes.

Being calm and focused takes practice. You are always going to bad at all the things you don't practice. I've taken music lessons and singing lessons. And on a good day I can find middle C on a piano. Basically, I've never put in the practice it takes to learn these things.

And this is not about being quiet for quiet's sake. Absolute high-level focus makes you more productive. It just does. Yes, it takes practice, but the rewards are spectacular. When you look at the most productive people you know, you'll find that they are experienced at turning off distractions and focusing on one thing at a time.

Note: This will irritate many of your friends. Why didn't you text me back? Are you ignoring me? I want 100% of your attention instantly at any time of the day or night.

. . . Seems kind of unreasonable when you put it that way. But it's true. The rest of the world is more interested in interrupting you all the time than they are in your success. Only you can control this. You have to set the limits. And you have to start developing the habits of reducing distractions and indulging in super-productive, super-focused work.

Comments welcome.

:-)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Help Your Clients with Facebook Breach

One of the things your clients look to you for is security - whatever form that takes.

I have a blog dedicated to end users. It's called Consultant or Amateur. It's designed to be a place that gives advice to end-users AND as a place you can point your clients and say, "See. This guy's telling you the same thing I'm telling you."



I just posted a click-by-click article on how to download and extract your data from Facebook. The idea is to help folks take this seriously - and clean up the stuff they don't want associated with their profile.

If you are not currently helping your clients manage their social media presence, you might consider that service. If nothing else, this breach should give you a new slide to put in your standard security presentation.

Use it as you see fit.

:-)


New Audio Download: Weed Your Client Garden

New Audio program:

Weed Your Client Garden and Grow Your Profits

Can you really grow your business by getting rid of clients? Absolutely! In this 35 minute audio presentation, I provide a very practical guide to increasing your revenue – and your profits – by getting rid of clients who take more than they give.

Learn several very practical strategies to transform your business by trading your lowest-paying clients for larger clients - without losing any money. In fact, there are several practical practices to help you increase profits without having to hire more technicians.

This is an all-new audio program. I have been talking about "Weeding your client garden" for more than ten years. Here's a quick (35 minute)  presentation. The download includes a worksheet for evaluating clients - as explained in the audio program.

Package includes: Audio MP3, presentation slides in PDF format, Worksheet for client evaluations.

On sale right now at SMB Books. Only . . . are you ready for this? $9.95 !!!

:-)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

True Story - The Frozen Backup

This is a true story. It happened about 2008. It happened with one of our non-profit association clients, the Assault Awareness Association (AAA).

At this particular office, the backup system was a DAT tape drive. In case you're not familiar, the DAT tape cartridges are just a couple inches wide. We always tried to create backup systems so that a full backup fit onto one cartridge.

That way, we didn't have to rely on humans to remember to put in a second tape in the morning and then swap tapes again in the afternoon. One tape per day. One full backup per tape.

We also had a tape rotation system that dramatically improved the reliability of restores if need be. Generally speaking, we tried to keep about ten tapes in rotation, and remove one from the rotation permanently at the end of the month. That way, we had several restore points and twelve "permanent" offsite restore points in case we had to go back more than a few weeks.

I'm glad that the days of tape backup for the smallest businesses are behind us. Too many opportunities for human error (designing the backup system, implementing it, running it every day, testing it). It's also slow.

BUT I am a huge fan of tape. As I've always said, it is the most reliable and robust backup you will ever find. Tape is nearly indestructible. At the end of the day, tape isn't the problem: People are the problem.

Anyway . . .

One day the server crashed at AAA. I forget all the details, but we had to restore from backup. Lisa, the office manager, had been given the task of taking tapes home every night for safe storage. And, at the end of the month, she took one offsite for permanent storage. Of course these were all labeled.

My faith in our backup systems is absolute. We've never failed to restore 99-100% of the data from a backup that we designed, implemented, and maintained. So I was very confident when I told Lisa, "Remember all those tapes you've been taking home? This is the day we need them. Please go bring in every tape from the last year."

We did whatever we needed to do to prep the server so we could restore from tape and Lisa went home to get the tapes. She brought them to us in a one-gallon zip-lock baggie.

It was dripping water. The bag had water on the inside. All the tapes were wet!

I asked what happened. She said that she knew they were important and she stored them with all of her most important documents - in the freezer!!!

Okay. You gotta work with what you have.

So, we opened the door on each cartridge and shook out as much water as we could. Then we laid them out on paper towels. And tried to read the smeared labels. We put them in the best chronological order we could.

The plan was pretty simple:

1) Remove the tape drive so that it's connected but physically outside the server. That way, water inside the drive will stay inside the drive.

2) Restore as much data as we could.

3) Order a new (and larger capacity) tape drive.

4) Find a better place to store backup tapes.

The result: 100% success! The client lost work from the day of the crash, but we recovered 100% of the data from the wet backup tapes.

I swear: True story, except the names were changed.

Lesson learned: Improve our training process with regard to offsite storage of backups. You can never guess what clients are going to do, so remove as much ambiguity as you can from every process they're involved in.

And of course this improved our training across all other clients as well.

We created a one-time task of finding out where all of our clients were actually putting those take-home tapes. Some of them needed to make changes. No one else was keeping them in the freezer.

:-)

Rethinking My Money Back Guarantee

Since day one, I've had a simple money-back guarantee. I want my customers to be happy. I want them to come back again and again.

But now I need to put some limits on that, and I need your feedback.

My no-questions-asked guarantee was based on two things:

1) I always try to give more value than the cost of the product/service.

2) I assume buyers are good, honest people who are sincerely trying to improve their businesses.

I also try to make sure that people don't feel ripped off when I release a new product. When I release a new edition of a book, I give the new edition to people for free if they bought the old edition within the last several months. In other words, I do business the way I would want to be treated.

Every once in awhile, someone will contact me and say that a product is too simple or too advanced for them. Generally, these folks have purchased a book or a class. And of course I am happy to refund their money.

But on rare occasions I have someone who just plain wants to rip me off. This normally takes a simple form: They buy a huge bundle, log on, download everything, and immediately ask for a refund. This all takes place within an hour and involves over 1,000 pages of downloads.

In my opinion, these people are just plain thieves. They clearly see value in the products but have not had the time to evaluate or implement anything.

Recently, I had someone request a refund after five months. They took two classes, downloaded thousands of pages of downloads, and then waited five months and asked for their money back. This is probably someone who is failing at their business and has not implemented any advice. So the good news (if there is any) is that they are not able to get value from the materials. In that sense, a refund is legitimate, if not timely.

This is particularly irritating for me because I've already paid taxes on this sale from last year.

You may have heard that LL Bean had to rethink their return policy because people abused it. Well, in the last year I have felt very abused. I don't think my products have gone down hill. But abusive returns have certainly gone up.


What Do You Think?

I really want to be fair. But what's fair? I don't want to create a complicated set of rules. I really do want to allow refunds where people simply don't find value in my products. But I have been ripped off several times in the last month - to the tune of several thousand dollars.

Maybe I should feel grateful that my material is worth stealing. :-)

Here are some things I am considering:

1) All returns must be within _____30_____ days of purchase.

2) Physical books must be returned in good, resellable condition. Buyer pays for return shipping.

3) Once the downloadable content of a product has been downloaded, the merchandise is not returnable.

4) Online classes are refundable until the last day of class.


As always, I appreciate your feedback.

Thank you for your support!

:-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Most Important Checklists for Any I.T. Service Provider - Class Starts April 24th!

Next 5-Week Live Class starts April 24th:

The Most Important Checklists for Any I.T. Service Provider


Taught by Karl Palachuk and Manuel Palachuk, Authors and Coaches

- Five Tuesdays - April 24 - May 22, 2018 - Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

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In addition to building hundreds of checklists and standard processes for KPEnterprises in Sacramento, CA, the authors have both written books, trained individuals, and coached teams on successful processes and habits for running a modern, successful managed service business.

Checklists are critically important to creating SOPs - Standard Operating Procedures - for your company.

This course is intended for managers and owners of a managed service business. It covers many facets of the "checklist mentality" that the instructors have used at a variety of successful I.T. consulting businesses.

This course will cover daily the use of checklists in daily operations as well as the "larger picture" of running the entire company. It will address both internal checklists for running your own company and external checklists for managing client relationships and client technology.

This is an intensive live webinar course over a five week period. All assignments are voluntary, of course. But if you want feedback on assignments, please complete assignments during this course and email them to the instructor.


Delivered by Karl Palachuk and Manuel Palachuk, authors of the Network Migration Workbook and many other books for MSPs - managed service providers.

Includes five weeks of webinar classes with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.




A Few Details . . .

Each course will be five webinar classes (50-60 minutes each)
There will be handouts and "homework" assignments
If you wish to receive feedback on your assignments, there will be instructor office hours
Class calls will be recorded and made available to paid attendees only.
All calls start at 9:00 AM Pacific Time

Week by Week Overview of the Course
  1. Week 1: What is a Checklist / Sample: Daily Backup Monitoring and Maintenance
  2. Week 2: Employee Hiring Process / Exit Process
  3. Week 3: New Client On-boarding / Client Off-boarding / Quarterly Client Roadmap
  4. Week 4:  Monthly Maintenance Checklist / New PC Checklist
  5. Week 5:  New Server Build / Class Summary

Sample Handouts for this course:
  • Class Syllabus
  • Slides from all classes
  • MPI Checklist Template
  • MPI Doc with TOC Template
  • NMW Discovery Checklist
  • NMW Remote Workstation Migration
  • How To Document Any Process White Paper by Manuel Palachuk
  • Personnel Folders
  • New Hire Checklist
  • Hiring Folder (ZIP)
  • Employee Goals Template
  • Employee Evaluation Template
  • Client Onboard Checklist
  • Client Removal Checklist
  • Roadmap Questionnaire
  • Roadmap Template
  • Roadmap Meeting Notes Template
  • Monthly Maintenance Checklist
  • New Workstation Checklist
  • New User Checklist
  • Welcome New Employee Orientation
  • Server Build Checklist
  • Troubleshooting and Repair Log
  • Time Stamp Version Standards
:-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why I Started a Second Managed Service Business

Mauricio asked me a question no one ever asked me before. He attended my roadshow and sent me this note:

"Thank you for having us, we really appreciate all the information you provided us definitely planning on utilizing the information as soon as we get back into town. , looking forward to attending more of your shows.
Just out of curiosity; you mention you sold your manage service company twice, Why would you sell a business that is making you money and then start all over again?"
Selling the first business (KPEnterprises) had a lot to do with a personal "perfect storm" involving the recession and a divorce. My service manager, Mike, was spectacular at executing my SOPs as outlined in my books. He bought the company (now America's Tech Support) and kept me on as a coach/adviser/manager/etc. I did a lot of client relationship work, ran some major projects, and helped with client roadmap meetings.

When Mike sold the business two years later, I no longer had any connection to it. Many former clients contacted me for help. Some literally begged me to come back. When one of them had a huge system-wide failure due to firewall update, I jumped in to help.

That's when I realized that I could create an even MORE profitable business. All I had to do was wait until my absolute "A" clients from back in the day contacted me. One by one I took on a handful of truly perfect clients. They all took my advice, spent whatever I asked them to spend, trusted me, held roadmap meetings, paid their bills on time, and so forth.

I literally created a small sized but hugely profitable company with only perfect clients.

I had one part-time tech and an administrative assistant who split time between that business and Great Little Book, my publishing business. All in all, it was a pretty sweet operation. We operated out of my house and it was a pretty easy, low-maintenance company.

But . . . I realized that I was not making the kind of progress I wanted to make on publishing new books. And I wanted to hit the road almost non-stop in 2017. So, with heavy heart, I decided to give up being a managed service provider (or working in a MS business).

My friend Tom bought the business and I introduced him around. He kept me around as extra help on an "as needed" basis. I've been called into a couple strategy meetings. But he's doing a great job taking care of my clients.

I ended December 2016 with a week in Hawaii with my daughter. I started January 2017 with a week in Key West. Then I hit the road for the big 2017 SMB Roadshow. In addition to speaking in almost three dozen cities, I managed to put out two books last year.

If I can just take time to sit at my keyboard, I hope to have at least one or two new books out this year. I have five books in the works right now (ALL new books - not second or third editions). I love writing and I am worried that I'll get old and die before I finish I the books I need to get out of my head.

I hope that answers the question.

Side note: I have a secret master plan that has been brewing for years. Step One was to create the four-volume set of SOPs. Step Two was to update the Service Agreements book as well as Managed Services in a Month. With those books all out, I felt I had a large enough "body" of work to make Step Three a reality.

Ruben, my web guy, is actively working on Step Three. It's been years in the making, so I'm going to be patient enough to make sure it's right before I let anyone see it.

More questions welcome.

:-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ziften Launches Partner Program to Increase Channel Partners' Strategic Value to Customers

I received this press release and was asked to hold until today. If you have relevant news for the SMB IT community, please let me know.

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Ziften Launches Partner Program to Increase Channel Partners' Strategic Value to Customers 


Tiered global channel partner program delivers increased financial incentives, partner- focused enablement programs and support for increasing global growth initiatives

AUSTIN, TEXAS – April 10, 2018 — Ziften, the leading provider of all-the-time visibility and control for client devices, servers, and cloud VMs, today announced a new channel partner program to enable resellers and distributors to deliver global endpoint and cloud security solutions to customers. The program, called the Ziften Activate Partner ProgramTM, is designed to empower the Ziften partner community, ensure that partners have the resources they need to successfully sell Ziften’s security solutions, while underscoring a commitment to joint business objectives—growing the customer base and increasing market share.

Also, the recent addition of Greg McCreight as Ziften’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channel Sales highlights the company’s strong commitment to this program and the success of the partner network.

“The introduction of the Activate Partner Program highlights Ziften’s commitment to the channel and makes it easier for us to grow the business of our mutual channel partners, said Donald Scott, Sr. Manager Emerging Vendor Initiative, Advanced Solutions, Ingram Micro U.S. “As one of Ziften’s preferred distribution partners with specialization in IT security, Ingram Micro is uniquely positioned to work with Ziften to provide enablement and support for this growing partner network and bring more value to our customers.”

Having achieved strong market momentum with the launch of its Zenith security platform in February 2017 and announcing a strategic business and technology collaboration with Microsoft in November, the Activate Partner Program supports Ziften’s growth of a worldwide partner network.

Program benefits include incentives and resources, including access to innovative technology and expertise, offered with the Activate program to help partners increase their revenue in some of the industry’s fastest growing markets. The new program includes:

  • Rich financial incentives that encourage long-term reseller investment and reward on- going success. 
  • Market development assistance and funds available to drive incremental demand and lead generation. 
  • World-class, hands-on support from Ziften field sales, sales engineers, technical support, and marketing experts. 

     
“Ziften is 100% committed to building our channel partner relationships as a foundational component of our company’s growth, and this new partner program is a proof of that commitment,” said Greg McCreight, SVP of Worldwide Channels, Ziften. “The Activate Partner Program combines our successful security solutions, financial investments, and hands-on assistance to help partners create more opportunity and close more deals creating mutual growth.”

About Ziften:

Ziften delivers all-the-time visibility and control for any asset, anywhere - client devices, servers, and cloud VMs – whether on-network or remote; connected or not. Our unified systems and security operations (SysSecOps) platform empowers IT and security operations teams to quickly repair user impacting endpoint issues, reduce their overall risk posture, speed security threat response, and increase operations productivity. Ziften’s secure architecture delivers continuous, streaming endpoint monitoring and historical data collection for large and mid- sized enterprises, governments, and managed security service providers (MSSP). And Ziften helps extend the value of incumbent tools, and fill the gaps between fragmented, siloed systems.

https://ziften.com

Ziften Media Contact: 
Zonic Group Public Relations
Gregory Cross


Monday, April 09, 2018

Presenting "Weeding Your Client Garden" at SMB Techfest April 19th

I love SMB Techfest - and you can attend for free on me. Just head to

www.smbtechfest.com/karl

April 19th - Anaheim, CA

to get your free pass. Doesn't work in Chrome, so use another browser.

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Farmer Out Standing In His Field

I have long advocated weeding your client garden. That is, improving your business and profits by strategically firing specific clients. There are several pieces of this strategy. You can't just fire a bunch of clients.

For the first time ever, I am delivering a full-length presentation specifically on the topic of weeding your client garden. There are several different ways to do this, each designed to mold your clientele into the kind of companies you want to work with.

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I'm also doing three super-quick ten minute presentations on other topics.

If you haven't been to a Techfest, please do yourself a favor and join us April 19th in Anaheim - or online.

Lots more info at www.smbtechfest.com/karl.


:-)