Sunday, August 11, 2019

Why You Need to Track Outstanding Time in Your IT Business

Free Webinar:

Why You Need to Track Outstanding Time in Your IT Business


Mark your calendars for August 15th at 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern.

This event was recorded. You can find the recording here: https://mspwebinar.com

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the live webinar on Zoom.

This is a great webinar for service managers, but it's also important for technicians and everyone on your team to understand why we need to track all time - especially time inside your ticketing system.

No sponsors. No advertising. Just information you need!



One of the big challenges in tracking time is that most PSAs fall short on this. YOU have to make up the difference. That means using QuickBooks and Excel, or similar tools.

Outstanding time in your system - "Backlog" - is one of the most important types of time you need to track. We'll show you why, and then talk about what you can do about it.

Join us for an education and practical discussion of tracking time inside your IT business!

:-)

Thursday, August 01, 2019

How to Email Busy People

When I hire new employees, there's always a "break-in" period around communication. This is true no matter what age they are.

Everyone wants to communicate in their own way. For some that's Facebook messenger. For some it's text message. For a handful it's still telephone. But the most voluminous method is email. Good old email.

So, lesson #1 is: This is how we communicate. Internal business communication is not by Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. And with few exceptions, it's not by text message.

Email can be easily filtered, so I know all employee and outsourced staff email ends up in a specific folder. I can manage that folder.

Next, when it comes to email, don't waste my time!!!

Lesson #2: Don't cc: me on every little thing. Correlate: Don't thank me for every little thing. I hire people so I don't have to do all the work myself. In fact I wrote a blog post about this many years ago called Please Don't CC The Boss.

That applies to gratuitous "Thanks" emails. I wish I could figure out a rule to determine whether the only communication in a reply email is "Thanks" and just move all those to the deleted items folder.

Many people are in this habit. It's a bit like that friend who absolutely must have the last word no matter what. Instead, read the sometimes-lengthy email thread. When the conversation is over, let it go.

I sometimes joke with employees that, if they insist on doing this, I am going to assign them the task of opening my in-box, searching for their own emails, and deleting everyone that contains no communication beyond Thanks or Thank You.

Lesson #3: Keep the subject line relevant. When you've moved from one subject to another, update the subject line or start a new thread. I hate being asked about next Tuesday's networking event under the subject line "Zoom Cloud Recording is Now Available."

Email is about communication. Use the tool to achieve that simple goal. That means keeping the subject line relevant.

Lesson #4: One item per email, whenever possible. (This is actually the reason I'm writing this post.) Let's assume the busy person you're emailing glances at the email subject and first sentence before they decide to open the email. Don't bury the lead, as they say in the news business.

Example One. I often receive emails from readers, followers, and people who just found me while cruising the Internet. By often I mean every single day. Generally, their email falls into two categories. One is a quick email with a quick question. They usually get a quick answer.

The other is a long email with lots of reading to do and several questions. This is something that will take my time. I have to do all that reading, try to figure out how best to help them, and then answer a series of questions. Emails like this almost never get a quick response. In fact, they get moved to a folder called "Reply when you can." I often answer these within a year or so.

Example Two - The reason I started writing this post. DO NOT reuse an old subject line, have a first sentence that looks like it will take some analysis, and then bring up a totally unrelated and important subject at the end of the email

A few days ago, I received an email from a part-time employee who was having trouble with a simple assignment. She was replying to an email I'd sent with a request. The fact that she was having trouble was clear from the first sentence. So I didn't open the email for three days since I knew she was coming in that day.

And there in the middle of the email was a note to the effect of: Oh, and by the way, I found another job.

Huh?

The fact that she resigned in the middle of an unrelated reply email is a good indicator that she wasn't a good fit in the first place.

- - - - -

I know we all like to complain about so-called common sense and we wish everyone had our version of it. But there really are some basic guidelines for communicating with people at work.

Your guidelines for email may be different from mine. But you should have some guidelines. After all, you can't control other people. You can only control your own processes. So you should have processes.

Comments welcome.

:-)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Financial Processes for the I.T. Services Firm - Class Starts August 6th

Financial Processes for the I.T. Services Firm

A VERY popular class, taught by Rayanne Buchianico.

August 6 - September 3, 2019

Start Time: 9:00 AM PST

5-Week Course

There are few things more important than the finances of your business. But most technology consultants didn't get into business to run balance sheets or figure out cash flow.

This class provides unique content from a unique teacher! Rayanne is a managed service provider from Tampa, FL. She is also an accountant and an Intuit certified ProAdvisor. In addition to her MSP business, Rayanne helps I.T. consultants to take control of their finances and understand their own business at a deeper level.



Topics for this class include:

  • Learn to read and understand your Balance Sheet and P&L Statements
  • Create a chart of accounts that makes sense for your business
  • Separating out information on the P&L for management decisions
  • Entities and tax considerations - understanding how your entity is taxed. Handout is a tax projection worksheet for 2017 taxes
  • Cash flow forecasting - Handout is a cash flow projection spreadsheet to forecast revenues and expenses
  • Understanding margins and ratios - Deep dive into the P&L and Balance Sheet to understand how the numbers work together to make decisions. Handout is a worksheet on calculating and understanding the ratios & margins.
  • Use margins to price your services for profit
  • Calculate billing and burden rates
  • Action plans for success

. . . and More!

Delivered by Rayanne Buchianico, Financial Coach and QuickBooks Advisor. Rayanne has been an MSP - managed service provider - for many years and advises MSPs on how to get the most out of their QuickBooks and PSA integrations.

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 Owner or Operations Manager.

Week One: Introduction to Your Company’s Finances
Week Two: Cash Flow Forecasting
Week Three: Margins, Ratios, KPIs, and Breakeven points
Week Four: Jobs, Budgeting, and Internal Controls
Week Five: Planning for Taxes







:-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Updated YouTube Class - Revised for the New Interface - Starts Aug. 14th

Tune Up Your YouTube – 3-week Course – Revised for 2020!


Want a great way to finish off the year? How about tuning up your YouTube Channel?

Note: This is a revamped class. After the original 3-week class, YouTube completely changed their interface. That’s the challenge of social media, right? So we had to create all new screenshots. And the checklists had to be updated.

If you don’t have a YouTube channel, we’ll show you how to set it up right. We’ll talk about the graphic sizes you need for background images, how to set up playlists, and much more.

Most people don’t take advantage of all the features of YouTube, and therefore don’t get the great results they should. We’ll walk you through the process of posting your videos so you maximize visual appeal, keywords, and links back to your web site or other social media. With a checklist, of course!

If you don’t post a lot of videos, that’s okay. Karl will give you a checklist for posting so you don’t forget to take advantage of all the options.

We will also walk you through the process of telling Google (YouTube’s owner) which Internet properties are yours so that you can link to them from your YouTube channel.

Finally, we’ll walk you through the process of using a video in your Google advertising. This boosts your video performance dramatically at almost no cost. And of course we’ll answer all your questions.

Includes the following checklists – revised for 2020:

  • Checklist: Set Up YouTube Channel (pdf)
  • Checklist: YouTube Video Upload (pdf)
  • Checklist: YouTube Maximization Checklist (pdf)

– Classes are generally 30-60 minutes

When:

Aug 14th at 09:00 AM Pacific
Aug 21st at 9:00 AM Pacific
Aug 28th at 9:00 AM Pacific

Only $99 for non-members!

Free to Small Biz Thoughts Community Members.




Topics Covered:

Create and Customize Your Channel

  • YouTube and Google
  • Getting Started
  • Set Up Your Channel
  • Channel Artwork
  • Pro Tips


Upload Videos

  • Video Upload Checklist
  • Advanced Settings
  • End Screens and iCards
  • Show and Tell


Maximize Your Channel

  • Comments
  • Custom URL
  • Longer Videos
  • Video Ads
  • Cross-Posting Social Media
  • Custom Greeting Videos
  • Closed Captions
  • Reports
Join us!

:-)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Join Me at ChannelPro's SMB Forum - San Jose - Sept 5th

I am honored once again to be part of the ChannelPro SMB Forum.

My brother Manuel and I have a fun and educational presentation. Please join us!






Join us for the 2019 ChannelPro SMB Forum!

A Free, live event in San Jose on September 5!

REGISTER TODAY WITH PROMO CODE BIZVIP!


Who Should Attend?
  Local area IT integrators, consultants and Managed Service Providers

What's included?
  Free access to all sessions, learning materials, meals, and parking

Why Attend?
  The ChannelPro 2019 SMB Forum features an all-star cast of top industry experts, a unique interactive format that puts you in direct conversation with them, and a fast-paced, information-packed agenda covering topics you care about:


  • Sales Tip Shootout!—Concrete advice on landing appointments, overcoming objections to cross-selling services and beyond.

  • Get Ready for Managed Everything—A discussion on offering profitable as-a-service recurring revenue opportunities including hardware-as-a-service, communications-as-a-service, disaster recovery-as-a-service, and other cloud and non-cloud solutions.

  • Winning in Cybersecurity—Proven best practices for launching a security practice, selling security services, and more.

  • Getting Started in the Internet of Things (IoT)—Actionable advice on what services to start with, the skills you'll need to deliver those services, and the most successful techniques for finding prospects and closing deals.

  • MSP Pain Point Clinic—How to get your pricing right, hire good technicians, get your clients to pay on time and more!

  • Hardware Tech Trends—The latest trends in SMB hardware including new laptops, tablets, and other devices.

  • GEAR AND CASH GIVEAWAYS

  • And more!


If you're looking to break into managed IT services, or to grow your IT business to the next level, this event is perfect for you. The event is free to IT pros, and you are encouraged to bring your staff with you so you can all benefit from the learning and networking during the event.
 


:-)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Join me at ChannelCon - Free

Join me at ChannelCon - August 5-7

I've got a booth at the big CompTIA ChannelCon event in Vegas. And that means you can get in FREE.

ChannelCon is the tech industry’s premier education, networking, and partnering event hosted by CompTIA. This year, it's at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas on August 5-7.

This $1,200 value pass is yours free when you register using promo code: CC19BIZ.

The name of the game in the business of tech is turning innovation into realities for your bottom line. If your business builds, sells, influences or drives the adoption of technology, this is the one event you don’t want to miss this year. The power-packed agenda will deliver:

Intensive training and education
Peer-to-peer learning
Exceptional networking opportunities

You’ll walk away with a jackpot of new ideas and tools to grow your business and keep our industry at the top of its game.

Please visit me at Booth 527!

We hope to see you there.

Click for More Info


:-)



Thursday, July 11, 2019

Which Conferences Should I Attend?

Okay - so I know I'm going to miss some, irritate a few people, and get some disagreement.

But I just checked my give-a-rat's-rearend-ometer and I don't care.

. . .

Andrew sent me an email. He's reasonably new to the industry and interested in attending a conference or two. The big question is: Which conferences?

Note: While everyone might have their favorite conference, this advice is for folks who are serious about improving their business and haven't attended many (or any conferences before). So keep that in mind.


First, You Should Attend Conferences!

Someone recently posted on a social media site: "I’ve yet to make a penny networking with other owners."

My only response to that is, "You haven't tried."

Networking with people in your industry is the fastest way to find out about new products and services, different ways of solving problems, and new ways of improving your internal processes. I've been involved in a million conversations that started with, "How do you . . .?" and ended up with people engaging in lengthy discussions about making their business more successful.

As John Donne said, "No man is an island." Your business does not exist in isolation. You need to read deeply about what others are doing. And you need to interact with them in order to understand where you fit. You are part of a larger continent.

Plus, isolation results in massive wasted effort as you reinvent the wheel and learn through all the mistakes one needs to make. When you interact with others in your industry, you learn without making all the mistakes yourself.

Plus . . . Conferences are a great place to meet new vendors, find out about new products and services, and make connections that may help you down the road. I highly encourage you to grab those vendor cards. Pick up every one you can. The person you meet at the conference probably can't help you when you need it . . . but they can put you in touch with someone who can!


Second, Which Conferences Should You Attend?

There are many kinds of conferences. If you are starting out, you probably do not need to attend the massive, big, expensive conferences.

Let's start with Microsoft. If you are not a $5 million and above partner, or a developer, then there is probably zero value in attending the Microsoft "Inspire" conference. That's okay since it's next week and very expensive. :-)

The other 800-pound gorilla conferences are IT Nation (ConnectWise) and DattoCon (Autotask). These are awesome, amazing, and spectacular. They are also a little pricey, take a serious time commitment, and will absolutely overwhelm you if you're new to the industry.

Plan to attend one or both of these at some point. But you need to be big enough to implement the changes and education you're going to receive. If your company is 1-3 people and you can only change one small thing at a time, these conferences will make you feel awesome and educated . . . but you won't be able to implement the changes you'll be inspired about.

There are several good conferences that are either free or affordable and get a good mix of partners and vendors. As a rule, these conferences are more regional. But all of them get folks from all over. Here are my favorites:

ChannelPro SMB Forum - a great program!
https://events.channelpronetwork.com/

ChannelPro is a media company and, not surprisingly, their conference is extremely well put together. There is massive content, an educational theme runs through the whole day, and the planning literally begins half a year in advance. These events are extremely well designed for IT consultants who serve the small business space. Great vendor hall with lots of opportunities to interact.

Shows remaining this year include San Jose and Newark. Free.
Full disclosure: I present at these conferences.


The ASCII Group IT Success Summits
https://www.ascii.com/events/

ASCII is an awesome association dedicated to helping you improve your vendor relationship. You have a problem with a vendor? They will help you fix it. You want to get better pricing from a distributor? Members get that automatically.

So, as you can imagine, their conferences are 95% vendor focused. There are a few "partner" presentations, but this is an opportunity to learn which vendors are new, which offers are new, which services are new, etc. They have started hiring big-name keynote speakers that you probably won't see anywhere else. So that's a bonus.

Shows remaining this year include Denver, Toronto, New Jersey, and Boston. Free.


SMB TechFest
https://smbtechfest.com

TechFest is run by long time Microsoft MVP Dave Seibert. It is always held in Anaheim, CA and happens four times per year. This event is a little different each time, but always has a great mix of partners, vendors, and education.

I love TechFest because it's built like an all-day conversation about improving your business. You need sales? Let's talk about sales. You need new service partners? Let's talk about that. The vendor hall is normally excellent and the vendors here are very low-key. I think that's because so many companies have offices in Southern California and this is generally a low-stress event for whoever attends because they don't have to get on an airplane.

Shows remaining this year are July (next week) and October.
Full disclosure: I will present at the July event.


IT Owners Compass
https://itocompass.com/

ITO Compass was new to me this year. I think this was their third year. Run by Lori Tisinai, a multi-preneur along with her husband, this conference is filled with partners who have been successful in a variety of fields and are moving toward the more channel-focused and managed service type businesses.

The vendor hall was small this year, but the response from vendors was overwhelmingly positive, so I suspect it will be larger next year. The speakers and partners here were excellent. And while there were breakout sessions, it felt very much like a 2- or 3-day conversation.

Not sure when the 2020 conference will be, but get on the mailing list so you don't miss it. Price was $299. Not sure what it will be next year.


CompTIA ChannelCon
https://cc19.snoball.events/e/small-biz-thoughts

ChannelCon is the tech industry’s premier education, networking, and partnering event hosted by CompTIA. This year, it's at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas on August 5-7.

You may have heard of CompTIA from their Plus certifications and training. They really are a major force in technical education and certification in the SMB space. ChannelCon is their annual gathering and is chock full of education from their various committees.

I am on committees for Advancing Women in IT, Managed Services, Emerging Technology, and the new Drone technology committee. All of these committees will be presenting at ChannelCon. Keyword: Education!

Ostensibly, this is a 41,200 conference. You can register for free with my link up above.
Full disclosure: I am involved with CompTIA on several fronts.


Robin Robin's "Technology Marketing Toolkit" Big Event
https://technologymarketingtoolkit.com

I have to throw this in because it's another big, big event. Robin Robins is the premier marketing consultant focused almost entirely on the SMB IT community. She has developed massive amounts of marketing programs geared specifically toward your clients and the solutions that you sell. You can (and should) just take her programs and send them out without editing.

Every year, Robin gathers up her subscribers and others and puts on a multi-day massive educational program. It is super high end. She also has great keynote speakers. There IS selling from the stage. But you'd be disappointed if a marketer failed to do that, right? Trust me, the education overwhelms everything else. You get a 3" binder when you arrive and the entire event is run like a massive boot camp on your success.

Pricing varies depending on when you register. Get on her list now for the best price.
Full disclosure: I've subscribed to Robin's stuff for more than 15 years and I love everything she does. It may not be your style, but you can't argue with success.


For the Aussies: SMB IT Professionals Annual Conference
https://www.smbitpro.org/media/events/

If you are in Australia - or willing to get there - you will LOVE the annual SMB IT Pro conference. It is 100% partner-run and extremely educational. There are vendor presentations, but they tend to be far less pushy than what we see in the U.S.

AND it's another conference that's basically a two-day ongoing conversation about improving your business. Great vendor hall and participation. Packed with some of the smartest people in the industry (not just from Australia).

The conference is put on by the SMB IT Pro groups that are still running successful meetings across Australia. I promise, no matter where you're from, you will love this conference.

October 25-26 in Adelaide, Australia
Full disclosure: I am speaking at this event.


Roadshows, Vendor Events, etc.
See my weekly newsletter - sign up here.

AND there are dozens - maybe hundreds - of little events you can attend. Most of these are either person-specific (e.g., my roadshows, or events put on by Richard Tubb, Nigel Moore, Jamison West, etc). OR they are vendor-specific.

Vendor-specific events are normally educational programs focused completely on the new products and services being offered, plus information on how to get more from your relationship with a vendor.

Many vendors put on these events. They are NOT a waste of time. They ARE a great way to meet other local partners. They often include a nice lunch and a few vendor give-aways. Keep an eye on your vendor newsletters, or my weekly newsletter.

Note: This category includes events such as Sherweb's Accelerate conference, which is super-educational even if you're not a reseller partner. And it includes events from distributors such as Ingram Micro. The goal is to educate you on how you can make more money. The hope is that you'll partner with them to make that money!

BTW - If you see an event that looks relevant but it's not on my calendar, shoot me a note. Thanks.

-- -- --

Sorry, Andrew, if that's too much information. Hope there's something useful in there somewhere.

:-)

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Super Monster Mastermind Opportunity - Free at ChannelCon

First of all, if you don't belong to CompTIA, just go join.

Among the great things about CompTIA is that they provide opportunities for people to talk about the industry as a whole - and the future of their own companies.

A number of my very good friends (and a relative) are putting on an amazing event for free while everyone's in town for CompTIA's ChannelCon event.


Sidebar:

ChannelCon is at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas on August 5-7.

You can attend FREE with this link: https://cc19.snoball.events/e/small-biz-thoughts.

I would love to see you there.



Thousands of folks will be in Vegas for the big event. So a bunch of really great folks got together and decided to host a group mastermind event.

The Coach’s Huddle – Mastermind Group @ ChannelCon

Date/Time
Monday August 5th 2019
1:15 PDT – 2:45 PDT

Location
ChannelCon 2019 @ Bellagio Hotel
Da Vinci 4 Meeting Room
Registration is required

All the details are here:
https://manuelpalachuk.com/events/channelcon-mastermind/


Mastermind Coaches include:

Manuel Palachuk - President and Head Coach - Manuel Palachuk International

Amy Babinchak - Owner - Third Tier

Dave Seibert - Influencer, Technologist, Entrepreneur - DaveSeibert.com

Erick Simpson - Founder & Chief Strategist - ErickSimpson.com

Rayanne Buchianico - CEO - ABC Solutions, LLC

James Kernan - Principal Consultant - Kernan Consulting



What Is A Mastermind Group?

You may have already experienced the power of a mastermind group without realizing it. The best example would be a time when you were deep in conversation with a small group of sharp individuals and suddenly found yourself internally super-charged with new and different ideas, maybe even solutions to things you’d been pondering for months. This is the power of a mastermind group.

The intention is to feed the idea factory in all of us by making connections with other inspired and motivated people who share a desire to get to the next level. When you participate fully, you get access to and feel the power of the mastermind. Everyone makes new connections that are often long-term and certainly always beneficial.

See all the details at: https://manuelpalachuk.com/events/channelcon-mastermind/

-- -- --

The only reason I'm not participating is that I have another engagement.

I work with every one of these great people on a regular basis. Many of them are in an ongoing mastermind group I've been a part of for several years.

In addition to being my friends, I am honored to have relied on these folks for advice in both my business and personal life.

This event will be amazing - and I'm sorry I can't attend. But you should!

If you're going to be at ChannelCon, please do yourself a favor and sign up to participate in this amazing event.

:-)


3-Week Mini Class: Create a Client Newsletter that Works

Join me for another fun 3-part classs:

Create a Client Newsletter that Works


Starts Wednesday, July 10th
9:00 AM

One of the absolute best things you can do to get new clients AND sell deeper into your existing client base is to have a regular newsletter.

Of course your newsletter should be educational. But it must be interesting and useful to non-technical people. So what do you put in it and why?

I produced client newsletters for more than ten years. In this class, you'll learn my process for creating and distributing newsletters that clients look forward to - and read. I'll show you how we create a template that makes everything easier, including the content. I'll also show you how we use newsletters to get clients to replace old equipment, invest in the right technology, and even put tickets into our system (it's true!).

We'll cover the great things you can do with newsletters, along with templates, email vs. printed, getting started, and producing regular emails without overwhelming yourself with work.

Taught on three Wednesdays in July:

July 10th at 9:00 AM Pacific
July 17th at 9:00 AM Pacific
July 24th at 9:00 AM Pacific

All classes are recorded, so you can catch up if you miss a class.

Classes are generally 30-60 minutes each, plus questions.

This class is FREE for Small Biz Thoughts Community members. $99 for non-members.



:-)

Friday, July 05, 2019

Get Erick Simpson's Latest Managed Services MSP MRR Pricing Calculator Free!

A special offer from my friend Erick Simpson . . .

Get Erick Simpson's Latest Managed Services MSP MRR Pricing Calculator Free!


Version 1.5 of Erick's Managed Services MSP MRR Pricing Calculator computes your product, service and solution costs and maintains your margins to deliver final pricing for your Managed Services quotes and proposals in minutes! Designed to allow you to be completely customizable, letting you add your own specific products and configure it to your specific needs. Don't let pricing be a sales bottleneck any longer - quickly modify quantities, costs, and margins to ensure you present your prospects with compelling price points that meet your margin targets.




Erick Simpson's Managed Services MSP MRR Pricing Calculator

MSP MRR Pricing Calculator Version 1.5

Erick's added a Security Section to this latest version of his time-saving pricing tool that that also includes all of your MRR-based products and services. It allows you to modify and store your product, service and solution costs and setup fees, along with your desired margins to quickly calculate final pricing for your Managed Services quotes and proposals.

- - - - -

:-)