Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Myth of the Millennial Economy

Back around the year 2000 we were told that there was a "new economy." The new "Internet economy" emerged in the mid 1990's and exploded in 2002.

The so-called new economy created a bubble on Wall Street because people were throwing money at any company with a dot com name. Companies were no longer valued based on the old fashioned notion of profit. How quaint.

No, the new economy was based on a completely different valuation: Market share, defined as users without regard to profit. The thinking was simple. We'll give away our product or service until we own all the users. Then we'll start charging.

This was flawed reasoning on several counts. First, as soon as something new emerged, competition for users also emerged. So no one could ever own all the users. Second, a lot of people will try anything for free and nothing if they have to pay.

Eventually, the whole "new economy" was a massive house of cards built on electrons instead of sound economic principles. People got rich - stupid rich - by raising money for a golden future that could never come to fruition.

The .com bubble burst.


Skip ahead to today. We don't have a bubble brewing, but we do have a new false economy brewing. For years now we've been told about how the world just has to change for the "millennial" generation and those who come after.

Millennials (or "Generation Y") are those folks born about 1980-1999. This is now the largest age cohort in our economy - larger than the baby boomers. And as the boomers die off, the millennials will constitute a larger and larger percentage of the population.

So what is the fake economy? We've been told that there are certain traits of the millennials that we have to bend to. In particular, we're told that we have to treat them differently as employees and consumers. For example, they insist on working less and earning more. They want more benefits more quickly. They want everything to be like a video game. They have no attention span, and can't learn big, complex things.

In my opinion, all of that just sounds stupid.

The millennials are beginning to learn the truth: You have to work really hard in this life to get ahead. And it has always been the case that those who don't work harder or smarter will be part of the less paid masses. Period. Being born in a certain year and being surrounded by technology doesn't change that economic reality.

Here are a few things to consider.

First, the top 1%, 5%, and 10% of any profession will always make the most difference in any generation. They'll be responsible for all of the innovation and take home the vast majority of all the money. Period. Fact.

Second, those who are self-disciplined and train themselves in the really hard jobs are the ones who get to be in the top 10%. Someone will always decide to focus on the hard jobs and therefore move up the ladder. Anyone CAN but only the top 10% will. Period. Fact.

Third, the people who are hiring, firing, and promoting employees care about performance, not your birth year. In any generation, a company has to earn money. Those who help a company earn more or save more will be rewarded. Those who simply cost money will be targeted for replacement (by cheaper labor, automation, and outsourcing). Period. Fact.

Fourth, if the attitudes of any group look like those attributed to the millennials, they will be passed over. People who want to skip the step where you work hard and pay your dues will simply self-select themselves out of the top 10%. Sorry. Fact.

In any generation, only a few people push themselves to the top. It's true of every profession. It always has been true. It always will be true. If the millennials think the laws of economics will be different for them, they have a hard lesson ahead.

It would be horrible for such a large cohort of the economy to simply opt out of the top 10%. Someone will fill that space, either those who are older or those who are younger.

The unchanged facts are:
- Life owes you nothing.
- Those with high levels of self-discipline always excel.
- Those who take on the hard jobs force themselves to learn the highest-paying skills.
- Anyone with normal skills and intelligence can push themselves into the top 10%, top 5%, and top 1%.

As with all economics, there are few action plans that can be applied to "everyone." But any one single person can succeed. Any one person can choose to be self-disciplined. Any one person can stop focusing on today's rewards and begin focusing on the long-term goals. Any one person can choose to do the hard work.

The good news for millennials is that they appear to be learning about reality. Maybe they're a bit surprised or disappointed. But I've hired several and found them to be hard working and dedicated.

So maybe all the reports about the millennials were always just as wrong as they sound.

Beware pundits who tell you that the most fundamental rules of anything have changed. When big, macro-economic rules change, they change very slowly.

:-)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Robin's Bootcamp - Nothing But The Best

Last week I posted about heading to Robin Robins' big bootcamp (actually Robin's Big Seminar). Due to a traffic snafu that made us late to the airport, we switched planes, stood by for a few hours, and missed the first half of the first day's meetings.
Robinopoly - a great theme that worked well

I'll say one thing about Robin's Bootcamp: It's all business. Yes, there are cocktail receptions two evenings. One (Datto's) was open to the entire conference. The other (eFolder's) was just for Producers Club members. But even after both of those, various groups had late-night meetings. One night my daughter, Tori, and I were heading down to Broadway street to listen to music. Two different people couldn't go with us because they had meetings that started at 8 and 9 PM.

Tori and I enjoyed live music EVERYWHERE
Unlike many conferences, where work starts late and finishes early, Robin's attendees can expect to be scheduled all day - meaning 7:30 AM to about 10 PM.time.

The really great thing is that these folks obviously love it. In the big Michael Gerber dichotomy of working IN your business vs. working ON your business, the attendees here obviously love working ON their business. It helps a lot that the atmosphere is both fun and serious at the same time.

The show was filled with good attitude, hard work, and an eagerness to learn. In addition to content from the stage (and a big binder full of materials), the networking and hallway conversations were great.


Attendees

You might imagine that the attendees are made up of only large consulting companies with large budgets. Not so. There were plenty of 1-2-3 person companies represented. The deciding factor for these folks was not company size so much as a willingness to invest in their business.

The basic story for most long-time attendees is very similar. First, they were trying to figure out how to get marketing done so they could grow their business. Second, they bought into one or more of Robin's programs. Third, they discovered that they have to do lots of things differently, so they started making changes. Fourth, their business began growing and growing and growing.

Every business has challenges. There are people who did really well and slid back a bit. There are companies that plateaued. And there are companies that continue to improve year after year.

What a bootcamp like this does is to stir up the DNA of ideas, motivate people to set larger goals, and get them pointed in the right direction.
Kevin O'Leary from Shark Tank


Keynotes

The two primary speakers were Kevin O'Leary from Shark Tank and Dan Kennedy, a long-time marketing guru. Both were good entertainment and very educational. Personally, I've been exposed to Kennedy's messages for decades, so I didn't find a lot of inspiration there. But I wrote down some notes and added them to my to-do list. So I have to admit it was good for me to hear him speak.

O'Leary was funny and did a good job playing up the fact that he's the kind of guy you can learn from, but you probably don't want to actually work with. Overall, more people talked about his presentation for the next three days than anything else. Some people loved every bit of it. Some thought he was an a-hole.
Rob Rae from Datto and Robin Robins

If the maxim holds true that it's better for people to talk about you than to agree with you, then O'Leary did a perfect job. He made a few points that are kinda sorta mostly true, but hard to accept in small business. One point he made in particular is that employees are not friends. That advice might work great in a corporate world where you draw a fat, dark line between your work and your personal life. But in small business, many people disagree with it.

O'Leary makes it very clear that he is a capitalist first. He doesn't care about the people he works with, the companies he buys, or personal lives of those he interacts with. Most people in the room started their own businesses to get away from him. So while callous comments about firing people can be presented in an entertaining manner, that piece of advice was quietly shelved by almost everyone.

Controversy is entertaining, right?

Overall, his advice was great. And it was certainly entertaining.


The Big Draw

As you might expect, the big draw was Robin herself. If you haven't met her, I encourage you to check out her YouTube channel. What you'll find is a person who is really smart, down-to-earth, and very good with marketing. You can tell right away that she enjoys what she does and she's built a great team around her to get it done.

After the first day, Tori looked at me and said, "Her people really love her." It's true. Robin runs the show with a no-bullshit attitude. Everyone shows up to work, but the work is fun. The five-pound binder you haul around for four days is a clear reminder that there's lots of work to be done.

Sometimes I get jaded because I've been to so many shows. But I assure you, this one stands out.


Live music all day and night at every place on Broadway!
I recorded a number of interviews, and I'll be posting those up at www.SMBCommunityPodcast.com - so subscribe there an learn a little more about the Robin Robins Bootcamp and the vendors who made it possible.

Thanks for having me, Robin!

:-)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alternate Reality - Social Media

Very often - VERY often - common wisdom lets us down. People hear advice that sounds good, so they believe it and repeat it. You don't have to believe common widom - and very often you shouldn't! Here are a few examples from the world of Social Media.


Social Media Myth One: You have to do it.

No. Of course not. You have to create and execute a marketing plan that works. It may include social media, but it certainly doesn't have to.

Many people are successful with social media. Most people are not. In fact, most people are simply consumers of social media as entertainment. So IF you have a strategy, you can can do very well. But you don't have to.

Too many people/companies do a half-baked job of social media marketing. They stop and start over and over. They create a blog with three posts and never get back to it. They're not writers and they shouldn't have gone that direction. They pay attention to Twitter and LinkedIn for awhile and then ignore it for awhile.

If you don't have a strategy, don't pretend you're doing "real" marketing on social media. It's better to spend $100/month on pay-per-click ads than to have a fractured, inconsistent social media presence.


Social Media Myth Two: Seek expert advice on how to use social media. Other than my advice in this blog post, please ignore all advice you read or hear about social media.

Why? Because you can't be someone else. When you hear a great story about a successful campaign, remember that someone else did that. You don't have their business, their list, their fans, their personality, their budget, their branding, . . . etc.

You need to develop your voice, your branding, your audience, and so forth. You need to be you. Social media can be a great tool for letting you shine in your own unique style. Slavishly copying the "wisdom" of others' success can only result in a faded copy of the original.


Social Media Reality: You need to be intentional. That means you need to consider 1) whether to use social media for marketing, and 2) how you will use it, if you decide to.

There are many, many options available today. In addition to the "old-school" social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you now have Pinterest, Snapchat, Imgur, and more. Don't look for a formula to adopt or an opportunity to jump in. Create your own branding. Create your own strategy.

You might not be successful. Or you might become the next big success story that everyone copies.

If you create a plan that can be executed and measured, your chances of success are very high. Without a plan, the chances of success are almost zero.

:-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Robin Robins' Big Seminar - The Gathering

Robin Robins is a true marketing genius. How do you know that? Because she has the perfect formula for marketing success:

1) A product (service) that works
2) A band of raving fans
3) Just enough detractors to make her a little controversial
4) No matter what she does to make the brand something else (e.g. Technology Marketing Toolkit), the brand is her

[Sidebar on detractors: Everyone has detractors. Hell, I've got three of them myself! Every successful business has a few clients who aren't a good fit. But my experience is that 99% of Robin's detractors have never tried her service. They just 1) think they know what it is, and 2) know their clients wouldn't go for that.]

The annual Robin Robins gathering has become one of the truly great events in the SMB community. You can tell this is true because of the chatter that takes place in the days and weeks leading up to it. People email and ask, "Are you going? Will I see you there?" Then they post on Facebook, "Hey, who's going to Nashville?"

My first request came over a month ago. Today my inbox is filled with invitations for dinner and drinks. This is true for hundreds of other attendees as well.

Robin didn't create this buzz. At least not directly. It's a by-product of what she did create: Enthusiasm and excitement.

No one comes to Robin's Big Seminar wondering if it will be good or worthwhile. Those are guaranteed. The only question is, "What amazing things will we see and experience?"

Well, I'm here now.

Let the awesomeness begin!

:-)

Sorry this is a month old. Still worth noting.

Received this press release from Net2Phone after my discussion with them at the Channel Partners event in Vegas last month.


Net2Phone Unveils Channel Partner Program for Net2Phone Office

Las Vegas – March 16, 2015:  Net2Phone, a pioneer in VoIP telecommunications solutions since 1996, today announced its channel partner program offering industry-leading benefits and support for Net2Phone Office, a full featured business phone solution featuring unlimited calling within the US and to many international destinations.  Net2Phone unveiled its channel partner program at the spring 2015 Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

“We are pleased to introduce the Net2Phone Office channel partner program here at the Channel Partner Conference and Expo,” said Jonah Fink, Senior Vice President of Net2Phone.  “In the hyper-competitive market for small business telephony, we are deploying an unbeatable combination for distributors -- industry leading commissions and support paired with an unrivaled small business offering – a robust hosted PBX solution with unlimited calling domestically and to 22 countries for just $19.99 a month.”

As a global leader in the VoIP market and a leading distributor-based VoIP provider, Net2Phone turns its knowledge into value for its partners and their customers.  The commission structure offers one of the highest percentages in the industry with true evergreen agreements.  The Net2Phone Office partner portal is completely self managed and easy to use – allowing channel partners to create quotes, view pricing, access marketing materials and track leads. 

In addition, Net2Phone Office offers additional revenue generating programs to help partners earn even more.  For example, The Net2Phone Office prize wheel at the Channel Partner Conference and Expo, booth #1126, offers potential partners the ability to earn additional sales performance bonuses – up to $1,000 on top of regular commissions.

Net2Phone Office offers small businesses a cloud-based phone solution that is reliable, scalable and packed with easy-to-use features for one of the lowest price poinst in the industry – just $19.99 a month for unlimited calling to the US, Canada, Mexico and 22 other popular international destinations.

In addition to unlimited calling, the Net2Phone Office solution includes:
  • 40+ advanced business features
  • Call transfer, forwarding, recording and blocking
  • Plug and play IP Phones
  • 30-day risk-free trial

Visit us at booth #1126 during the Channel Partners Conference & Expo March 16th through 18th, or on our website -- www.net2phoneoffice.com -- to find out more about our channel partner program.


About Net2Phone


Net2Phone, a leading distributor-based VoIP provider, offers a full suite of VoIP solutions in over 160 countries.  Net2Phone daily routes millions of minutes over data networks, offering high quality voice services and saving consumers and businesses up to 90% off international calling rates.  For more information about Net2Phone’s products and services, please contact sales@net2phone.com. Net2Phone is a subsidiary of IDT Corporation (NYSE: IDT).


Net2Phone Contact:
Name:  Denise D’Arienzo, Marketing Manager
Phone: 973-438-3227
Email: denise.darienzo@idt.net

-----
:-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Help Me Develop a Cloud Training and Get In for Free

OK. Here's the deal.

For about seven years now I've been talking about the "Cloud Five Pack" we developed for our businesses (KPEnterprises, renamed to America's Tech Support. And now my new company Small Biz Thoughts).

We developed a package offering that provides "everything" a small business needs for technology:

- Hosted Exchange
- Spam Filtering
- Anti-Virus
- Remote Monitoring
- Patch management
- Storage / Backup
- Web site

and a "Lite" server onsite if the client needs fast storage for CAD, photos, QucikBooks, etc.

We sell this combo in a 5-pack. So clients pay one low price and can connect five users to hosted storage, email, etc.


BUT You Have Questions

When I've described this, I've found several people who wanted more detailed information. We have traditionally used Rackspace, but they no longer have a reseller program for the Jungledisk hosted storage for mapping a drive letter in the cloud.

Some folks have not figured out how to bundle these services. Or unbundle other services they have.

So . . .

I'm Developing a Cloud Five-Pack Course

and I need your help

I want to present click-by-click training with lots of hands-on opportunities. Ideally, every attendee will actually go out and create some kind of Cloud bundle offering. It may not be exactly like mine, but it will be a great bundle you can sell into your existing client base - and new clients as well.

I'm sure I could put together a training that's valuable. BUT folks always have questions. So here's what I want to do.

1) Hold a class for only ten people. You'll get the full training plus an opportunity to raise your questions and concerns. We'll have lots of opportunities for feedback.

2) We're going to charge you when you register. That's so that people actually attend. It's a nominal fee of $25. You get a full refund after you attend both sessions. So your final cost is FREE. As you know, attendance at free events is very low and unpredictable.

The training times were set so that we can address folks in North America and Australia. To do that, it's not actually very convenient for anyone. But we had to make choices. Sorry for folks in the UK. If we do this again, we'll move the time five or six hours earlier.

The training format will be as follows:

Class One
- 60 minutes of presentation
- up to 30 minutes of questions/answer and open discussion

Class Two - one week later
- 60 minutes of presentation
- up to 30 minutes of questions/answer and open discussion

The class dates/times are as follows:

May 11, 2015 
- 2 PM Pacific
- 5 PM Eastern
- 7 AM AEST May 12th

May 18, 2015 
- 2 PM Pacific
- 5 PM Eastern
- 7 AM AEST May 19th

Register here: https://www.smbbooks.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=cloud5test

Thank you for your support!

- karlp

:-)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Server 2003 Goodbye Forever - "Year of the Migration" Webinar

Mark your calendars and join Harry Brelsford and me Thursday for a great webinar.


Year of the Migration: What You Gonna Do and How You Gonna Do it? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015 
11:00-11:30 AM PDT

Presented by: Harry Brelsford, Founder and Chairman, SMB Nation, Inc.
and Karl Palachuk, President, SmallBizThoughts

Register Now - Free

- - - - -

This year will be a true watershed year for small business IT consulting. Whether we like it or not, change is HERE. The entire Server 2003 generation of software will be gone. Office 365 is taking off. Windows 10 is much more than a new operating system - Its release will spell the end of Windows 7.

We're going to look at the business side of making money in a world of change.

You know you have the technical skills to get you through. How do you stay profitable while helping  your clients to make good decisions?

Join us for a great strategy session - and an open Q&A session!

- - - - -
Here's the official description:

As you know – the animal kingdom naturally migrates to geographies where the lifestyle opportunities are greatest. Witness coyotes migrating down form the mountains to drink water out of pools in Santa Barbara California given the severe regional drought. Join us for this life-changing webinar and be the migration animal that lives inside you.

The academic webinar will lay it out for you. You will learn what the migration opportunities are over the next year: W2k3 Server EOS, Office 365, Win10. Hosted by Harry Brelsford, the main speaker is Karl “Mr. Migration” Palachuk who will provide the high-level migration mindset you need to assure success. His popular Network Migration Workbook will be featured and you will also discover additional opportunities to interact with Karl in the future.

One of our top webinars for 2015. Be there!
- - - - -

Register Now - Free!

:-)

Friday, April 10, 2015

There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser . . .

I had a great coaching session with a new MSP this week. He's been in business for many years, has signed one managed service deal, and is about to sign his second. That's what makes him a new MSP.

The call was "great" because he showed up during a crisis. He has a new client whose office was flooded. His company is replacing all hardware - and the old IT service provider. The client is truly in the middle of a disaster recovery. And while Roy (my guy) had told him that they'd finish the job on Saturday, the client is putting a lot of pressure on them to be done as soon as possible.

Roy has always provided amazing service. He's proud of it, as are his employees. Amazing service is part of their brand.

Normally, that would mean that Roy would cancel a non-emergency appointment to take care of this client. But he also knew that he could send his lead technician over to the client and take an hour with me to work "on" his business. This commitment is new to Roy. He has always known that he needs to take time to work on his business, but he has always been tempted to stay in the trenches - working IN his business.

As he expressed to me, "There's always an urgent client issue."

It made me think of the dialog from the original Men in Black movie. Agent Jay has just shot up the street with his noisy cricket weapon. Agent Kay provides some perspective:

Kay: "We do not discharge our weapons in view of the public!"

Jay: "Man, we ain't got time for this cover-up bullshit! I don't know whether or not you've forgotten, but there's an Arquillian Battle Cruiser that's about to..."

Kay: "There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!"


Just like Men in Black, your business has to look at the big picture. There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser threatening to destroy the earth. There's always a server that's having problems, or a failed update, or a bad backup, etc. There's always something going on that seems urgent - or IS urgent.

You have to rise above the urgency and set aside time to improve your business.



Nothing Happens By Itself


Working ON your business needs to be a priority. In fact, it needs to be your highest priority. Even in an emergency, you need to maintain perspective and realize that you can take an hour here and an hour there to work on the most important piece of your business.

You're never going to be able to take a week off, shut the doors, and revamp your service offerings (or tune up you service board, or revise the statuses you use in your PSA, or figure out how to clean up old time cards so you can begin tracking payroll in your PSA, etc., etc., etc.).

There are HUNDREDS of things you need to do to improve your business. You will never be "given" the time to do these things.

You have to TAKE the time.

You have to make that happen.

You have to set aside an hour to work ON your business.

... And don't let anything get in the way.

If you don't make it a priority, no one else can.

Improvement cannot happen by itself. You have to do it.

There will always be excuses.

There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser . . .

:-)

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Special Webinar: Channel Transitions Conference Preview - April 14th

Jim Roddy
President
Business Solutions Magazine



  • RSPA Chairman of the Board 2014-2015
  • 16 years experience educating channel executives
  • Education presenter at key channel events including RSPA RetailNOW, Blue Star’s VARTECH, ScanSource conferences, and Ingram Micro conferences.
  • Mike Monocello
    Editor In Chief
    Business Solutions Magazine



  • 14 years in the channel, including 5 as a VAR
  • Interacts with hundreds of VARs, MSPs, ISVs
  • Regular contributor to RSPA publications
  • Karl Palachuk
    Owner, Small Biz Thoughts
    President, Great Little Book Publishing Co.


  • Author of 15 books, including "Managed Services In A Month" and the 4-volume "Managed Services Operations Manual"
  • Former executive at a POS and inventory management company
  • Global experience as a writer, speaker, and IT business consultant
  • Register Now

    - - - - -

    I am honored to be speaking at the conference in Chicago and look forward to all of these events.

    Join us and learn more about what Business Solutions is putting together for you!

    :-)

    Thursday, April 02, 2015

    Join Me at Business Solutions' Retail IT VAR of the Future Conference - May 12-13

    I am very honored to be giving the keynote address at Business Solutions' Retail IT VAR of the Future conference next month. Here's a chance for you to join me for FREE.

    The conference is

    May 12-13
    Bally's
    Las Vegas, NV
    More Info at: www.retailitvarofthefuture.com/registration


    Here's the official memo from Abby at Business Solutions:

    - - - - -

    The forward thinking education Business Solutions has planned for the Retail IT VAR Of The Future conference is worth a few days away from the office. The event is just a few weeks away, and more than 200 channel executives have already registered.

    Click to view our event preview webinar. The agenda on May 12-13 at Bally's Las Vegas will give actionable advice on Mobile POS, Customer Experience, POS-as-a-Service, and Payment Processing/EMV.

    Use the promo code SPRING by April 9 to redeem a complimentary pass at www.retailitvarofthefuture.com/registration


    This complimentary registration offer only applies to active VAR, MSP, and ISV executives. Questions about the Retail IT VAR Of The Future conference can be directed to Abby Sorensen at 814-897-9000x243 or abby.sorensen@BSMinfo.com.



    - - - - -

    Join me live in Vegas!

    :-)