Friday, July 31, 2009

The "Guts" of the Network Migration Workbook

I have found with the books I've written that I have to tell people why they really want to buy the book. They think they know why, but it's not the real reason they should buy.

For example, with Service Agreements for SMB Consultants, people think they want to get the text of some service agreements so they can get up and going right away.

You get that, of course. But the real reason you want to buy the book is the subtitle: A Quick-Start Guide to Managed Services. You see, the meat of your business is not in your service agreements. Many people have operated for years without service agreements.

Your business is defined by how you operate, who you sell to, and the nature of what you sell. When you figure all that out and formalize it, you have yourself a service agreement.

Anyway . . .

I'm going through the same kind of thing now with The Network Documentation Workbook.

People think they want the click-by-click instructions on doing a Zero Downtime Migration. And yes, you do want that. But the meat that makes this process successful is the process.

As I mentioned in the earlier discussions of the book outline here and here, you need to look at the project as a project. You better never plan to put in the DVD for SBS 2008 and click Start. That's the road to misery and unprofitable behavior.

Modern SBS migration involves touching every important system in the client's office. Mission critical data storage. Mission critical email. Mission critical databases. Mission critical SharePoint. etc.

You could plan to just take the client offline, put your head down, and brute force your way through every migration, doing it different every time. But, to be honest, that's stupid and you won't make any money.

Network Migrations Should Not Be a Loss Leader

I think some people lose money on every migration and make it up by having a client "tied" to them for life because no one else can figure out the magical system they've build.

It doesn't have to be that way.

SOP: Standard Operating Procedures make every migration project profitable. They also result in consistent systems that are easier to maintain and more profitable in the long run.

The part of our new book that everyone thinks they want is the Appendix. If you're migrating to SBS 2003, you'll want Appendix A. If you're migrating to SBS 2008, you'll want Appendix B.

Those are the click-by-click instructions for "The Big Checklist." But before that, you'll want to read Chapters Five and Six to address strategies and techniques.

The Network Migration Workbook
Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks


Karl W. Palachuk
Manuel L. Palachuk

Table of Contents

  • 5. The Migration Checklist Explained
    • The Checklist As A Living Document
    • What The Checklist Is and Isn't
    • Best Practices and Core Philosophies
    • A Good Rule: Use a Troubleshooting and Repair Log
    • A Note About Microsoft-Centric Habits
    • Checklist Management
    • Build the Binder
    • A Good Rule: Zenith Infotech Is A "Best Practice"
    • Profiles and Exchange
    • Focus on Profiles
    • - Understand Directories
    • - Copying Profile Pieces
    • - The Good News
    • - The User State Migration Tool
    • Focus on Exchange
    • - Outlook and Profiles
    • - Back to the Skills Discussion


  • 6. Strategies for a Successful Zero Downtime Migration
    • Buckets
    • Create Your SRs
    • The Strategy Begins
    • Storing, Printing, and Using the Checklist
    • Build the Binder
    • The Big Picture on Timing: From Sales Cycle to Project Completion
    • The Realities of Time and Money
    • Picking Your Strategies
    • Major Work Before the Server Move
    • Moving the Major Components
    • Desktop to Desktop Procedures
    • The Golden Hours
    • Sidebar: Focus on Exchange
    • Sidebar: Focus on Databases
    • A Low-Stress Process That Can't Fail
    • Fine Tuning, Spinoff Projects, and a Final Reminder About Closed Loop Processes
    • Project Completion
    • Project Retrospective
    • Concluding Thoughts



:-)


Presales of The Network Migration Workbook start August 1st.
Only $199 at the presales price.
MSRP will be $299.95.

Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

All attendees of the October 1st Seminar in Las Vegas will receive a free copy of the book included in their registration.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scam Alert - And I'm the Patsy

I don't know whether to be honored or pissed off, so I'm choosing pissed off . . .

I have joined the ranks of Bank of America and other companies whose identities are being used by thieving bastards to steal money from unsuspecting victims.

My friend Bob N. sent me an email he received recently.

The loser references "K & P Enterprises" which is NOT in any way associated with me, or with KPEnterprises Business Consulting, Inc.

Coincidence?

No. The loser uses a physical mailing address that is - - - Mine!

Bob saw the message in his quarantine and phished it out.

Here's the email:

    From: CL Dev [mailto:cldev16@clmailserver2.whsites.net]
    Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 1:18 PM
    To: K & P Enterprises
    Subject: S.O.S. - A Personal Letter from the Developer of CL

    S.O.S. - Support Our Site!
    Hello,
    If you knew that posting your expertise with our directory would be helping a family effected by today's tough economy keep their home and make it through the worst of times, would you pay $9.95?

    For many years I worked as a software developer for the State of California. As with most states, California's economic situation is in pretty bad shape and employees have been released in record numbers.

    With no work available in my expertise, I decided to develop the business directory, Consultants List.

    My goal was to develop an easily affordable site ($9.95) for any business or individual to advertise. Rather you're a business owner, an employee, moonlighting, or unemployed. If you have a specific skill set to offer, the CL site is for you.

    Over 1000 listing categories.

    I've run out of time and I need your help!

    It's been over 13 months since my this process began. I launched the site less than 2 months ago. All of my resources are depleted and like many people, the possibility of foreclosure is only days away.

    I'm sending out an S.O.S, Support Our Site! The site isn't going anywhere. It's guaranteed to be online for many years. I will work everyday to make sure everyone knows about Consultants List.

    Being a veteran, I am also taking $2 of your $9.95 and donating it to support disabled and paralyzed veterans. Read details here.

    The first 2,500 listings have No Expiration Date!

    Yes, I need 2,500 listings before the end of July, we are going to offer lifetime charter member status to the next 2,500 listings. Your listing stays online until you remove it or forever, whichever comes first.

    Get on CL now as we are emailing this message to millions of businesses around the world.

    We will create your listing for you.

    I can even create your listing for you. Submit this simple form and we will create your listing for you. We'll email your username/password and an invoice for $9.95 to activate your listing.

    Alexa Rankings News: Consultants List has moved up the Alexa Site Rankings by almost 1 million positions in the last 2 weeks.

    This is exciting news that the word is getting out about Consultants List. We are flying up the popularity rankings. Make sure you get online today to guarantee your lifetime membership.

    Use this link to access the Consultants List site: Consultants List.

    If you have any questions at all please contact me,

    A. Smith
    Consultants List
    CL Contact Form

    This email is from Consultants List. It's very
    possible that this is the last time I will be able
    to contact you, but just in case.
    If you no longer want to receive messages,
    s just use the unsubscribe link and it will
    remove you from any future contacts.
    Select Here to Unsubscribe

    Copyright © 2009. All Rights Reserved.
    Consultants List
    2121 Natomas Crossing Dr. Ste. 200-219
    Sacramento, CA 95834


And who is this?

Well, here's what whois has on the network that originated this email (whsites.net):

    Registrant Contact:
    WestHost
    Brian Chambers ()

    Fax:
    164 N Spring Creek Pkwy
    Providence, UT 84332
    US

    Administrative Contact:
    WestHost
    Brian Chambers (hostmaster@westhost.com)
    +1.4357553433
    Fax: +1.4357553449
    164 N Spring Creek Pkwy
    Providence, UT 84332
    US

    Technical Contact:
    WestHost
    Brian Chambers (hostmaster@westhost.com)
    +1.4357553433
    Fax: +1.4357553449
    164 N Spring Creek Pkwy
    Providence, UT 84332
    US

    Status: Locked

    Name Servers:
    NS1.WEST-DATACENTER.NET
    NS2.WEST-DATACENTER.NET
    NS3.WEST-DATACENTER.NET


A little poking around at DNS Stuff suggests that the domain whsites.net houses dozens of servers - all with the same IP - that have dozens of subdomains.

I thought Exchange Defender and Reflection had forced all these bastards to move operations to China.

Anyway, I am not associated with this scan in any way. If you have problems or complaints - or want to sue them under the Canned Spam Act - Contact hostmaster@westhost.com.

:-)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Super Summer Sale - Fixed!

Got a note from Roger S. that some book links were not happening on the Super Duper Summer Sale page.

Fixed.

Please see www.smbbooks.com.

NOTE: If you received a catalog in the mail with a $10 discount code, that's separate from this sale. You can try to use it, but not all promotions can be combined.

If you didn't received a catalog, then go to This Page and make sure we have your mailing address.

New catalog coming soon.

I'm not sure why we have so many new books in the last few months, but we sure do.

:-)

Introducing Taylor Business Group

For the last thirteen months I have been a member of the HTG partner groups. I have been lucky to be a member of HTG 13 -- the best group ever. Our members have included a great collection of business owners from all over the U.S.

In addition to meeting together for two-day business improvement sessions, we've had many meals together, a few nights at the bar, a few outings we won't discuss in public, and some great side trips. For some reason, we've managed to have 60% of our meetings within a few miles of a casino. ;-)

I just had my last meeting with these great guys. A few of us finished off with a little trip out on the ocean on a scuba boat. What a great weekend!

And unfortunately, that was my last HTG meeting.

The HTG groups have decided to focus on a set of tools that my company does not use.

My company, KPEnterprises, Sacramento's best I.T. Consulting Company, uses Autotask and Zenith Infotech to deliver cutting edge technical support and managed services.

- - - - -

Did you ever hear that saying that when God closes a door, He opens a window? Or maybe He closes one door and opens another. Or whatever.

All I know is that there's a bunch of doors and windows opening and closing all around us. It's a time of great change.

Now, in response to the changes in our business, Taylor Business Group (TBG) has stepped forward to offer some VERY cool offerings, both in the U.S. and Europe.

TBG offers a variety of peer-to-peer groups for the executive team of any VAR. The goal is to assist you with issues surrounding profitability. Their core groups are called Business Improvement Groups (BIGs).

The cost of the BIGs is $1,500 annually. Any HTG member joining the group will receive 50% ($750) off their first year enrollment.

BIGs consist of the same members each time you meet. Your BIG will become a close network of counterparts that you can call upon when you have any business issue facing you. Sometimes you just need input from outside the company. Everyone signs non-disclosure agreements so group discussions are confidential.

A few additional notes:

  • BIGs are not management retreats. They are executive management-focused reviews and conferences.

  • BIGs are not member led. They are facilitated by consultants trained in facilitating effective group meetings.

  • BIGs do not involve techno goober speak. They focus on best practices to implement efficiencies and processes to drive more profits to your bottom line.

  • TBG does not restrict your participation in the BIGs based upon the PSA software you are using.

  • BIGs, unlike other peer groups, are prescriptive not just descriptive. Through the use of the financial charts and the alternative Roadmap to Profitability Financial Dashboard service, you will discover not only where you are in your business but where and what you need to fix to reach your goals within your business.

  • And in order to remain vendor/organization neutral, TBG does not accept sponsorship money from vendors or organizations.


BIG meetings are one and half days long. The agenda for the meetings generally consists of the following:

  • Financial analysis - You will be asked to fill out and send in a spreadsheet that reflects your numbers. This information is then put more than forty charts with the other members and some targeted benchmarks to give you a view of how your financials compare to others in the group and to the benchmarks.

  • Special topics - There will be one or two special topics that the group identifies to cover in your meetings. Examples include: annuity revenues, compensation plans, business systems, specialty products, pricing, sales issues, service issues, disaster recovery, managed services, manufacturer/distributor issues, etc. Each groups decides what they are.

  • Objectives - you will be asked to develop company/departmental fiscal year objectives and activities, and present them to the group. At each meeting, you will discuss your success in implementing those objectives and activities.

  • Board presentation - Two members at each conference (with the exception of the first conference) will be asked to present their company's performance to the rest of the group as though they were presenting to a board of directors. This is a very positive experience garnering ideas from other members on how to better improve your business.

  • Roundtable discussion - Of course there's time during the meetings and around the dinner table/bar to discuss all the "other" stuff that didn't make it onto the agenda for the quarter.

  • You will receive a bound copy of the charts that are presented and any materials that were provided by either the other members or on the special topics up for discussion.


- - - - -

News - What's New

KPEnterprises is proud to be a member of TBG. I've had my first call with the new team of partners.

Our first get-together is in Chicago in September. A week before SMB Nation, but what ya gonna do?

Also: I got a ping from Rob Franklin in the UK yesterday asking about TBG, so I asked Larry Schulze about plans for Europe.

Well, guess what? Taylor Business Group is starting their first Business Improvement Group in Europe. Most partners are from the UK, but not all.

Just a couple hours after I post this, they're having their first conference call to discuss meeting date and place. Partners signed up so far are from
- Clifton, Bristol
- Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire
- St. Albans, Hertfordshire
- Netherlands
- Cardiff
- Roslin, Scotland
- Ashford, Surrey
- Kingston
- Knaresborough

Whether you're in the U.S. or Europe, visit www.taylorbusinessgroup.com to learn more and sign up.

While I found out about TBG from Autotask (thanks), you do not have to be an Autotask user to sign up, participate, or get value from this group.

- - - - -

Feedback

I posted a note about TBG in my Weekly SMB Email this week and I've been getting lots of unsolicited responses about them -- all positive.


If you want a direct-connect with TBG, contact:

Larry Schulze
Co-Founder and Principal Consultant
Office: (816) 737-3681

www.taylorbusinessgroup.com

Comments welcome.

Friday, July 24, 2009

SBS Migration Book Part Two

I mentioned last week that we're closing in on a "complete" status for The Network Migration Workbook.

Currently about 575 pages 8.5 x 11" and three pounds.

The second section is "Defining the Migration Project."

We realize the process of Zero Downtime Migration is complicated. So in Section Two we take a look at the Migration project from "30,000 feet" company-wide. By that I mean that this information is useful for everyone in YOUR company to understand.

It is useful for technicians, project managers, and sales people. Everyone needs to understand the big picture so they have some idea what the other departments are up to.

And, of course, if you are personally the sales person, the project manager, and the primary technician all combined, then you need to understand the big picture in order to know how to isolate each of these activities and execute well.

Chapter Three is the big overview of the process. Chapter Four covers quoting the project.

You might be tempted to let the tech people skip Ch. 4, but we recommend against it. The structure of the quote requires some critical "pre-discovery" information from the tech department. The quote itself will have an internal-facing document and a client-facing document, both of which lead to the service requests that will "define" the project once the quote is approved.

Chapter Four also lays out the groundwork for the client communication and management frame for the project.

Taken as a whole, Chapters 1-4 help you dive into a successful model for designing and running migration projects.


We can't wait to get this out there.

. . . Soon.


The Network Migration Workbook
Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks


Karl W. Palachuk
Manuel L. Palachuk

Table of Contents

  • 3. Project Overview
    • Introduction
    • A Few Caveats About the Checklists
    • Running Successful Migration Projects
    • Closing the Loop
    • The Migration Project Overview
    • The Checklist
    • Outline Of The Process
    • A Little More Detail on the Process
    • So Where Does Zero Downtime Come In?
    • Methods for Achieving Zero Downtime
    • What's Next?
    • There Are No Emergency Migrations
    • The Network Documentation Binder
    • The Rest of The Book


  • 4. Quoting the Migration Project
    • Project Initiation
    • A Confident Approach
    • The Generic Two-Drawing Process
    • The Reality of Quoting in the SMB Space
    • Your Line Card
    • Labor Estimates
    • Check Point
    • Two Quotes
    • Approval Process
    • Details
    • A Little Focus on Desktop Migrations
    • Final Steps / Approved Projects
    • Note on PSA Project Management




These chapters are 99.9% complete. We have sent them out for layout.

More to come.

In the meantime, check out the two hour mp3 audio download on Zero Downtime Migrations at SMB Books:




Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Karl Palachuk and Jeff Middleton To Speak at SMB Nation

I am proud to announce that I'll be sharing the stage at SMB Nation's Fall conference with Jeff Middleton from SBSMigration.com.

We'll be talking about . . . you guessed it . . . Migration Strategies.

My brother Manuel and I are in the final birthing stages of a new book called The Network Migration Workbook. We're in the layout stages. I need to get a couple of final chapter editions to reviewers. But it looks like it will really be available in a matter of weeks.

Jeff, of course, is famous for his Swing Migration strategy and toolkit. I wasn't at the first ever SMB Nation. But I've been at all the rest and Jeff's been there helping to lead and inspire the community. I am honored to share the stage with him.

Before SMB Nation - on October 1, 2009, Great Little Book is sponsoring an all-day seminar on Zero Downtime Migrations. It will be in Vegas, at the Riviera (same hotel as SMB Nation).

As the economy begins to thaw and overdue server migrations begin to create greater demand for SBS 2008, we believe Migration will be the hottest topic out there. Please joing us for the Preday Seminar and SMB Nation.


:-)



Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Friday, July 17, 2009

SBS Migration Strategies Part One - Literally

We've been working, working, working on the new book.

The Network Migration Workbook: Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks.

Currently about 550 pages 8.5 x 11" and three pounds.

We've got it registered with the Library of Congress. That came through today.

ISBN 978-0-9763760-4-0

No. You can't order it today. But soon.

The book has two major parts. The first is a series of chapters describing how to sell, define, and run a network migration project with zero downtime. The second part consists of two BIG checklists -- a few hundred pages each -- for SBS 2003 and SBS 2008.

You might ask how well these topics fit together. In fact, one of our reviewers pointed out that technicians don't care about the first part. That's a bit of an overstatement, but in some sense it's true. Many technicians don't care how to price a project, or how to keep it profitable. Many technicians don't care how to manage a project because they'll never be asked to do that.

Some technicians don't care about he details of client management or negotiating a price. And we've all met them. They will always be technicians. They want procedures for execution without understanding the big picture.

Maybe I'm just an old man in my forties. But when I think about client management, I think about the client whose office I set up on SBS 4.0 ten years ago. They skipped 4.5 and eventually installed SBS 2000, SBS 2003, and SBS 2008.

If all I care about is the click-by-click installation of the next operating system, then I completely misunderstand what it means to be a consultant to a client.

This month I am celebrating the tenth year with one of my clients. I'm sure he doesn't read this blog, so I'll tell you that we have a big surprise planned for him. Why? Because it's not about technology. It's not about servers, or dollars spent, or upselling. After ten years, a consulting relationship is about doing business with people you like and trust. It's about respect and sharing a vision for the future.

Anyway, the point is that technicians who will never achieve anything meaningful beyond being an entry level technician will only care about the big checklists. But if you run a business, or manage a tech support team, or manage migration projects, then we think you'll want to read the whole book.

Just for fun, here's a list of topics covered in Chapters One and Two:

The Network Migration Workbook
Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks


Karl W. Palachuk
Manuel L. Palachuk

Table of Contents

  • Front Matter
    • Foreword
    • About The Authors
    • The Plan of The Book
    • Legal Disclaimer
    • Who Should Read This Book?
    • A Note About Microsoft-Centric Habits
    • Acknowledgements


  • I. Introduction and Overview

  • 1. Migrating the Windows Environment
    • Introduction
    • Modern Migration Strategies
    • EBS and Other Multi-Server Environments
    • What's The Best For Your Client?
    • Zero Downtime?
    • Normal Hours
    • Consulting Assistance From KPEnterprises
    • Tools and Rules
      • Slow Down, Get More Done
      • Do It Our Way First
      • You WILL Use a Ticketing System to Track Time
      • You Are In Charge
      • Do Not Be Interrupt-Driven
      • Know What You Know
      • Documentation Will Set You Free
      • Over Freakin' Communicate

    • Downtime's Okay
    • Now Let's Get Started


  • 2. Project Management
    • Introduction
    • SMB Consulting Project Management
    • Discovery and Inventory
    • Introduction to the Project
    • Focus: Why Do You Want a Small Business Server?
    • Case Study: Example Network
    • Inventory: Physical Assets
    • The Documentation Process
    • Inventory: Services and Resources
    • Beware the Last Consultant
    • Checkpoint
    • Inventory: Future Plans
    • Building the Plan
    • Writing the Plan
    • Goal Setting: Treating Your SBS Migration Like an Employee
    • Dealing with Objections
      • Price
      • Preference
      • Support and Quality of Products
      • Complexity or Differentiation
      • PCIPU: Perfectly Clear If Previously Understood
      • Security

    • Getting Approval for the Project
    • Budgeting, Adjusting, and Final Draft
    • Summary



These chapters are essentially complete. Just need final layout and off to the printers.

More soon.

In the meantime, check out the two hour mp3 audio download on Zero Downtime Migrations at SMB Books:




Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Monday, July 13, 2009

Arnie Bellini on the Next SMB Conference Call

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
9:00 AM Pacific / 12:00 Noon Eastern

Please join us for one of the last SMB Conference Calls:

Arnie Bellini from ConnectWise PSA will join us Live from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

Register Now!

ConnectWise PSA is one of the premier practice management tools in the SMB space. We'll talk to founder and CEO, Arnie Bellini about what's new and what's hot with ConnectWise.

We'll also talk about industry best practices and why you need a PSA tool.

ConnectWise recently announced a special program with the Heartland Technology Groups. We'll ask Arnie about that, as well as his plans for the future.

If you have questions for Arnie, please email karlp@greatlittlebook.com and I'll try to get them all in.

Many people are already registered for this.

You should join us, too!

About ConnectWise:
www.connectwise.com

Find out more on the SMB Conference Call page.

Tell all your friends and colleagues!

Mark Your Calendar Today!

:-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

In Desperate Need of Sales

It's a sign of the times.

Last week in my weekly SMB Email I wrote a "Kick You in The Butt" article about making sales.

Well, I got an email from a consultant whose business has been hit hard by the economy and who will soon have to decide whether things are moving up enough to stay in this business. It got me to thinking.

(Subscribe to my weekly email at http://www.greatlittlebook.com/Mailing_List.htm.)


Here are a few commando moves you can implement before the month is out:


Raise Your Rates

After all these years, I'm still shocked to find technicians charging less than $100/hour for their services. I'll be absolutely honest with you: If you're not worth $100 an hour, please get out of this business. If you are worth it, then charge it.

In most metropolitan areas, you should be getting at least $120 to $150 per hour.

I know it seems counter intuitive to raise your rates during a recession, but you need to do it.

The fastest way to make more money is to raise your rates. Call it inflation, economic times, or whatever. Just do it.

NOT raising your rates is literally a matter of addressing your internal fears. If you're worth it, and it's the going rate, then charge it.

For a little perspective on reality, go check out the labor rates at Best Buy Geek Squad. Then call Staples and see what they charge after they're done with the $39 special for spraying a can of air on your motherboard. These guys are pricey. And if they're your competition, then get it line with their pricing.


Cut Your Costs

If you haven't signed up with Zenith Infotech for pay-as-you-go remote monitoring and tech support, do it today. I don't even remember the prices any more because they lowered them, but it's less than $4 per desktop per month to give your clients everything they need.

That saves gas and drive time.

At this point, 90% of your business should consist of sitting in from of your monitor and fixing things remotely.

Every single time you get in your car, you're losing money. Every time. Every day. Every job.

You lose valuable daylight time that could be billed. You pay for gas. And I know because I've been there: You eat lunch out all the time because you're on the road.

Another way to stop spending so much is to stop buying things. Radical, I know. But I'll give you a perfect example. Last Fall we adopted a simple rule in our office regarding office supplies (paper, toner, etc.): Don't buy it before you need it. That rule literally cut our office expense budget in HALF. I don't know if we were stockpiling for a nuclear war or what, but whatever we were doing was costing too much money.

Look at your budget. Cut everything. Cut the little stuff and cut the big stuff.

Don't have a budget? That might explain a few things too. :-)


Prioritize Every Service Request

That means prioritize every phone call, every email, every shoulder tap.

Begin asking the very simple question: "How urgent is this?" You'll probably be surprised that your client do not expect emergency service for everything. Once you begin asking them to tell you how urgent it is, you'll find that most of the requests you get are not urgent at all.

You've always treated every request at absolutely top priority, but clients really don't expect that.

Here's your new mantra: Scheduled Work Is Profitable Work.

I might make a poster for that.

If you don't have an honest to goodness process for handling the work flow, then you're simply responding to whatever tasks someone throws in your lap. That's not the way to make money.

Take a look at Erick Simpson's book The Best I.T. Service Delivery Book Ever.

And if you want a cheaper read that will change a lot things about your life and your business, read First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill.

If you can schedule work 2-3 days out, you will discover pockets of time that are not taken up fighting fires.


Obviously, You Need To Make Sales

Here's an easy one: Make ten phone calls a day asking for an appointment. If you're really as hard up as it sounds, make 20 phone calls a day.

Call your clients and outright ask for referrals. Follow up immediately.

Call strangers who "look like" your favorite clients. That might be insurance brokers, attorneys, or whatever. Get a list and start calling.

You've heard of the sales funnel. If you make 20 calls a day, that's 400 calls a month. Some one's going to meet with you. Let's be honest, when you start out you'll be bad. But you'll get better. When you start out, 400 calls should get you at least five appointments. When you get better, it will get you ten.

Make appointments a HIGH priority. Meet with strangers, polish your approach, and don't forget to ask for the sale. If you meet with ten interested people, you should be able to sign one of them.

So far this hasn't cost you any money.

If you already have a list you've been mailing, call down that list. They've at least heard of you.

Direct mail and advertising only goes so far. You have to follow up and ask for the business.


Sales vs. Delivery

I often hear people say they're too busy working to make sales.

Total honesty time: You don't want to make sales because you don't like sales, so there will never be a good time. SCHEDULE the time in your day and make it happen.

Remember that discussion of priorities a few paragraphs back? Don't think about service priorities different from sales priorities.

Everything in your business has a High, Medium, or Low priority. Everything. And they're not in separate queues.

High priority sales are more important that medium priority tech support.

For example: Do you troubleshoot a $24 CD ROM for a client who calls you once a year, or make 20 phone calls and one sales appointment? If you want the sale, you have to go work the sales funnel.

And part of prioritizing is to drop your smallest clients. I don't know what is small for you. For us it's less than $500/month.

I know for some people no client is too small. But you need to think about that. If someone spends more money on oil changes for their car in a year than they spend on tech support, they're not really a client. They're barely a customer. They have zero loyalty to you and you don't owe them anything.

If you can't get a client to spend at least as much on you as they spend to have someone mow their lawn, then we're back to whether or not you should be in this business at all.

Good luck!

:-)



Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Friday, July 10, 2009

SMB Conference Call End of Life Announcement

Don't panic. It's not gone yet.

But I thought you should know that the SMB Conference Call will be going off the air in December. I figure we'll finish out this year with a bang and quit while we're ahead.

The SMB Conference Call was kicked off with Erick Simpson in January of 2008. So if we go through the end of 2009, that's two full years. We'll be right at 50 recorded shows. And that represents hundreds of hours of labor from dozens of people (including me, of course).

Our goal has been to educate, stimulate, and introduce the SMB community to an MSP-centric view of the world.

Our guests have not included "everyone" we would like to have included, but we certainly had our share of luminaries. If you peruse the archives for 2008 and archives for 2009 you'll find shows with

- Erick Simpson
- Matt Makowicz
- Harry Brelsford
- Mike Iem
- Arlin Sorensen
- David Schrag
- Zenith Infotech
- Jeff Middleton
- Naseem Saab
- Vlad Mazek
- Amy Luby
- Data Epp
- Stuart Selbst
- Mathew Dickerson
- Stuart Crawford
- Robert Crane
- Jim Locke
- Dave Sobel
- Robin Robins
- Eriq Neal
- Philip Elder
- Joe Panettieri
- Clint Gatewood
- Aaron Booker
- Amy Babinchak

and lots and lots of other people.

When I say we're going out with a bang and not a whimper, you better believe me. Our next guest is Arnie Bellini from ConnectWise. Arnie will join us live from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner conference in New Orleans, LA. Wed. July 15th. 9AM Pacific.

The next show after that will have Bob Godgart and Bob Vogel from Autotask. After that it's Harry Brelsford, George Sierchio . . . and on and on. The two shows in December will feature Vlad Mazek and Erick Simpson.

- - - - -

So, you ask, why end when we're going so strong?

Let me answer a question with a question: Did you ever watch the last pitiful season of a really great TV show and wish they would have cut it off a year earlier? I don't want that to happen to the SMB Conference Call.

I'm happy going out at the top and not wait until the recording technician is the only listener left.

Again, I say Fear Not!

Between now and "the end" I have to figure out what else to do.

I walk a narrow line with the content I provide. On one hand, I have never endorsed a product or been paid to endorse a product. On the other hand, you have to click past the book-buying opportunities to download the shows.

Believe it or not, there's also a problem that comes with popularity on the modern Internet: both the SMB Conference Call and Small Biz Thoughts blog have been syndicated to the point where I don't know how large the audience is. Fewer people listen live, but lots more download the shows. One blog post might only get a thousand hits, but it can also light up the phones for a company I mention.

I would love to have a forum with more audience participation, but I can't have 300 people talking at once.

As for topics . . . I'm lucky to be free of paid sponsors, so I can talk about whatever I want.

The SMB and MSP space is still going strong, and I want to keep helping those partners. But two other topics are itching at the back of my head.

First, there's Migration Strategies. The Internet is littered with SBS 2008 migration horror stories. I'll have a book out soon, and we've been packing in the crowds to hear about this topic. At the same time, Jeff Middleton and I have been talking more lately, and we're on tap to talk about Migration Strategies at SMB Nation.

Second, I'm moving to The Cloud, moving as many clients as I can, and feel a need to help people realize that vision of the future. That topic will be appealing to end users as well as technicians.

- - - - -

What shall I do next? I need your help.

I honestly don't have time to give MORE time to the community, so don't ask for a weekly show.

But what about a monthly program? And who should be on it? Should I have guests at all?

And how can I squeeze a few nickels out of the show? Would you pay to listen? How much?

If I had advertisers would you call me a slimy vendor monger and spit on me in the streets?

What do YOU the readers of this blog want to hear/see/read more of? How can I help you enjoy your business and be successful?

Please post comments here or email karlp @greatlittlebook.com.

One final approach I have not considered: Just shut up and stop pushing my views on the rest of the SMB/MSP community. Hmmmmm.

Thanks for the feedback.

:-)




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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Reality of Offsite Backup

People are extremely defensive about the choices they've made for backup systems. But more and more I can't believe how ill-prepared most consultants are AND how they have fooled themselves and their customers into believing that they have an adequate disaster recovery scenario.

Notice I did not say backup. Most have a fine backup. They can restore a file. Given enough effort, they can restore a database. But they can't recover a client's entire system in a true disaster.


Approximately every seven seconds I hear about another offsite backup strategy.

I know LOTS of people are making a lot of money off of them.

There are a few really great ones out there. But I believe that roughly 99.999% of all "internet backups" are bullshit, useless, and worse.

I am particularly offended by people who spread the bald faced lie that tape backups don't work. I believe that incompetent technicians can't figure out tape backups. They still can't figure out SCSI. But that's not really an indictment against tape. It's an indictment of the incompetent technicians.

When I look at a backup system, I can't help myself: I think about disaster recovery.

Now, I fully admit that we do backups for many different reasons. We need an "ultimate" disaster recovery system. We need a file restore. We need to archive data.

At the end of the day, 99.999% of all online backup services amount to file recovery. When you start to talk disaster recover, they hem and haw and talk about one of two scenarios:

1) Well, you're not going to backup EVERYTHING. This is just for the important data. That means (for example) 5 GB for data, 10GB for line of business DB, and 20GB for Exchange database.

or

2) Ship us a drive. We're all comfortable that FedEx will never lose anything, and no one is willing to take the time to break the encryption.


In scenario #1: I have zero clients that fit into that category. We have 5-attorney offices who are grateful for a little leeway on a 72GB Exchange database.

The concept that you will only back up the "critical" data and not the operating system is absurd beyond words. Isn't the operating system with all the security information, ACL's and SIDs important? Are you going to put in CD#1 and rebuild from scratch while you wait a week to download the critical data?

I'm sorry: What business can even stay in business while your awesome internet-based backup system has them totally OFFLINE for a week?

If a client has a full T1 and can download about 1.1 GB per 1.5 hours, and if they have a very realistic 50 GB of data, then the math is real simple: It will take three days to restore their critical data AFTER you totally rebuild the server from scratch.

Remember: You're not uploading a working image. You've picked and chosen exactly the number of GBs the client is willing to pay for.

Conclusion: disaster recovery is unrealistic under these circumstances. This is an elaborate scheme to make sure file recovery can be accomplished in a reasonable time frame.


Scenario #2 is "ship a drive." WHAT? You've got a flood or a fire and the answer to getting the client back into business is to ship a drive? Under absolute best circumstances, with maximum expenditure of money, that's a 24 hour process. And in a perfect world, that's a drive with all the deltas since the drive was new.

Better.

But it's still 24 hours until you can start recovering the data.


Imaging is another option. If you can get a real time image up to the cloud, that's great. But what actually happens in a disaster?

I don't mean a fan goes out or a drive fails. I mean a disaster: The electricity is out for a week; flood; fire; earthquake; tornado; haz mat spill; etc.

In a true disaster, you do not have access to the building with the server. You need to get the client back in business. Exactly what do you plan to do with that SBS Server that's booted up somewhere on the internet?

Think about your average client. Have you done them any good?

Will you get them back in business in less than a week?

As I said, many people get defensive about this topic. But I believe you need to take a serious look at exactly what you would do if one of your client's buildings burned down today. Today. This morning. First thing.

Do you have a checklist?

Who calls who? Who initiates the recovery? What do you do for hardware? What do you do for communication? What is your realistic time frame to get them operational and making money again? And what's the time frame for completing a total recovery with all systems replaced and up online as they should be?

If you say "we backup 25 GB of the most important data to the cloud," then your client needs to 1) Slap you, and 2) Fire you today.

At KPEnterprises, Backup and Disaster Recovery are absolutely the highest priority. Even though we spend 99% of our time on other things, Backup and Disaster Recovery always come first. The client might be focused on opening word files and having one less spam per day. But none of that makes any difference if we can't get them back in business when the unexpected happens.

In fifteen years, no client of ours has ever lost any data.

We've seen fires, floods, theft, and employee sabotage.

- - - - -

At the end of the day, there is a place for an internet-based backup system. But you need to pick yours very carefully. The crap that's advertised on Leo Laport and Kim Kommando are fine for grandmas and people who don't rely on their data to make a living.

But don't kid yourself that the tool you've chosen is any better.

Start your checklist:

Step One: Fire Destroys the building

Step Two: . . . what do you do?


Please take this very seriously. Do you have a whiz-bang system that really amounts to fancy file recovery?

Or do you have a disaster recovery system?


I'm afraid that one day something will happen in our business and hundreds of SMB business recovery plans will be put to the test at the same time. And, unfortunately, I'm very confident that most of them fail miserably. Most of the systems will get back up eventually, but they won't be up in a timely manner and the owners will lose a lot more money that they should have.

:-)



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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Learning from Surveys

We're all busy and we're probably all inundated with opportunities to take an online survey. You know: Please give us five minutes of your life to tell us how we're doing.

Like most people, my response rate is directly related to my mood at the moment I am asked.

Lately I've been doing a lot of feedback surveys for companies that are doing some pretty cool things. In addition, I had a quite a spate of Microsoft surveys at their year end.

I do almost any survey from Microsoft because I have a lot invested in their business. I also fill out any reasonable-length survey from companies that appear to really be looking to the future.

You can learn a lot from the questions being asked.

Sometimes the questions reveal a way of thinking about technology that I had not considered before. Like, "Is there ever a need for a console on a server, or should you always be able to do what you want with Integrated Lights Out and RDP?" Hmmm. Good question.

I think about it because it's an interesting question. Someone else is thinking about it because they're designing a new server.

Or not.

Maybe the response will be an overwhelming "No."

Either way, what is that someone trying to accomplish with the new server? With luck there will be follow-up questions about users, applications, and other possible features.

If they ask enough questions, I can tell myself that I'm getting a vision of what they're up to.

Other surveys are just purely informative. For example, when I get a survey from Robert Half, I get asked about a series of job descriptions and salary ranges. Then I do a survey for Taylor Business Groups and get a different set of descriptions and salary ranges.

In both cases, I notice that "God-Like Mutant Engineer" has suggested ranges that start very high and go way up. But Service Managers have middle-of-the-road salaries and they top out way below some of the engineers.

Hmmmmm.

So when I look at what small consultants are doing, I see something very different. We tend to take the most technically skilled person and make him the service manager. We pay him the salary of a God-like mutant engineer, but he spends 10-20 hours a week doing HR and traffic control.

Maybe we have to because we only have three staff. Nonetheless, it's worth thinking about.

And that gets me thinking about how I might reorganize my team.

Think about that the next time a survey rolls into your inbox . . .

In addition to giving someone else some good information, you might get your own gears turning.

:-)



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Monday, July 06, 2009

Cloud Computing Part Three - Moving to The Cloud

I gave my thoughts about What Cloud Computing Looks Like and Finances in The Cloud.

The biggest question -- The question I expect people to ask for the next three years -- is "How exactly do I make the move to The Cloud?"

As with any major change, the first thing you need to do is to make a plan. That means to work Cloud computing into your business plan. (If you don't have a business plan, start working on that now.) You can start with the line card I outlined in Part One.

Let's look at the items you'll be selling.

Please note that I haven't worked with most of these companies yet and no mention here represents an endorsement. Blah blah blah.

Web Hosting is the easiest and most mature set of products. There are many long-standing companies with a lot of experience here. These include familiar names such as Hostway and Rackspace. There are also hundreds of companies you've never heard of, some good and some bad.

You have to figure out who you want to do business with. More on that in a minute.


Hosted Servers (Exchange, Sharepoint, etc.). Again, this is a pretty mature market. Lots of good companies to work with. And again, lots of companies you need to avoid. It's very important to find a good solid partner who won't disappear or become overwhelmed as this market explodes.


Hosted Desktops are a much newer market. With Virtualization AND good management tools just coming to maturity, a lot of people are going to get into this business. That means a lot of service resellers are going to find themselves hooking up with losers, getting into trouble, and looking for a more stable partner.

There are a few experienced companies in this area, including LeoStream and NetworkLondon.


Hosted Phone Systems are another somewhat-mature market. I say somewhat mature because there are some very mature providers, but lots of mediocre providers with immature tools who have been in the business for a long time. Here I will make an endorsement for the provider we resell: vocalocity.com.

The other obvious choice is to sell Asterisk at your colo site or at the client's site.

For other telephone options, please check out the forums at telephonation.com.


On-Premise Cloud services (at your colo, or at -client). This begins to get cutting-edge. You could do this with mature terminal services, RDP, or Citrix. But a true on-premise "cloud" requires a new generation of technology. That means something like the Zenith Infotech service or a roll-your-own Virtual Server environment from Microsoft, VM Ware, Citrix, or others.


Colocation Facility: If you're going to offer "your" cloud services, you'll need a colo. We are lucky to live in Sacramento, a place where many Bay Area companies have their facilities or backup facilities. Since we get essentially no earthquake activity, the sites here are very stable. Because of the demand, the bandwidth is available from any carrier and the price is good.

When you investigate a colo, ask about expansion and the cost to move from 1/2 rack to full rack, what their cage prices are, etc. Setting up in a colo is sometimes a lot like telephone service: there are a dozen nuisance fees that add up to a hefty chunk of change before you're done. "That price includes electricity, but there's a $120 charge to set it up." Makes you wonder, how many people buy a rack and don't use electricity?


Software Choices. Once you get going with virtual machines, hosted systems, etc. it is very important to use software that allows you to buy licenses only when you need them. As you deploy desktops, you'll need to add licenses for server cals, MS Office, anti-virus, etc. Microsoft SPLA is now available through Ingram Micro. Get on the Trend Worry Free AV program (or another month-by-month program of your choice).

As I mentioned before, the economic model is to buy and sell exactly what you need each month. So you need programs that allow you to do that. Some things are not yet available in that model. This includes all-important backup software. But be patient. They'll all come around.


A Lot of Work

Wow that looks like a lot of work.

Yes it is. And you're going to have to do it eventually, so I recommend you get going. Remember that there are totally inexperienced people who "get" the vision of cloud computing and they're signing up today and building these systems without fear -- because they don't know anything about the old way of doing business. They don't have concerns or fears because they never installed servers into client offices. They don't understand such a business model.

Don't be paralyzed because you have experience with the old model. That experience will serve you well.



Remember: Your experience can't limit your choices.
Experience represents the lessons you've learned along the ways.

Only you can limit your choices, and they should never be limited by your past.

Your experience gives you the tools you need to be more successful in new adventures than the people without that experience.



Here's an important industry publication: The Web Host Industry Review: http://www.thewhir.com/. Check out the web site and magazine. In addition to a great education, you'll get an introduction to some of the service providers who are designing cloud services for you to resell.

And PLEASE don't forget that you need a system that is as automated as possible. Whenever possible, try to partner with services that allow you and your customers to request services over the web and click-click-click, it happens automatically. The more labor you spend making this happen, the less profit you'll have.


Please post your favorite services, tools, partners, endorsements, etc.

Vendors: Feel free to post your tasteful notices in the comments. Just make sure they're related to cloud computing and not bodily implants or foreign pharmaceuticals.

:-)



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Friday, July 03, 2009

Did ConnectWise Take Over HTG?

My friend Vlad is excellent at boiling down events to a few succinct syllables. Please read his blog post Here. His title is ConnectWise swallows up HTG.

This is based on the press release from my friend Arlin. See the Official Announcement. When I saw this, I called Arlin to chat.

I use Autotask (KPEnterprises uses Autotask). I am a member of HTG.

As Arlin and I agreed on the phone, this is all just business.

People make decisions. Companies try to figure out how to form coalitions and what's in their best interest.

My next SMB Conference Call guest will be Arnie Bellini from ConnectWise. We'll talk to him about this.

Please register for that and tune in.

But in the meantime, here are some personal thoughts on the topic. By no means are these my complete thoughts or my final thoughts. I haven't finished thinking about the ramifications.

If you're interested, I recommend you read the several posts Arlin did in introducing the "new" HTG over the last two weeks on the Peer Power Blog.

HTG used to focus on Best Practices, but found that not very many members acknowledged adopting other members' best practices. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Okay.

So the new focus will be on specific procedures that members can benefit from immediately. "Click here, enter this. Run that. Click click click." Doing this kind of deep dive on a specific process is easier with a single system (e.g., PSA) than to try to work with several different systems.


Regarding Best Practices

I came late to the HTG party for several reasons. One primary reason is that I travel a lot. I attend dozens of conferences. And I don't just stand in the hallways and chat with my friends (although I do a lot of that). But I also participate. I learn tons and tons of information.

AND I stand in the hallways and exchange ideas with great people. And I eat meals and exchange ideas with great people. And I go to the casinos and exchange ideas with great people. And I can sometimes be seen in the bars exchanging great ideas with great people.

Here's the deal with "Best Practices" for my business. I might never adopt someone else's best practice outright. But hearing it explained gives me an education and a new perspective on my business. I learn and improve, even if I don't adopt it wholesale.

Let me give another perspective as an author. My little book on Managed Services in a Month is not a general discussion. It is literally click-by-click how I would take your business and turn it into an MSP.

People read that book and then they come to me and explain what they've done. More often than not, they implement a scheme that's totally different from what I recommended. But they tell me, "Your book really helped me. I did what you said."

In other words, they took my advice, filtered it in light of their own business, their experience, and their vision of the future. What came out was not MY business (not my best practices), but a system that works better for them.

So when I hear that HTG members are not adopting each others' best practices, I don't see that as a problem.


Additional Thoughts:

First, this move seems like a major smart play on the part of ConnectWise. They have "created" a value-added benefit to their subscribers without having to actually create it. That's what partnering does. Every one's going to be using the same product and they'll exchange tips, tricks, and techniques that help them take it to the next level.

Second, this is good for HTG because they will be able to maintain new membership goals: I suspect the next fertile breeding ground for new HTG members will be the existing ConnectWise subscribers who are not yet in HTG.

Third, this change doesn't seem like good news for HTG. Yes it's easier to add value to a common product. But that's hardly a mission statement that will be compelling in the long run. Maybe I haven't drunk enough kool-aid, but the move toward technical competency on a PSA tool is not why people join HTG.

The strength of HTG for my company has been with the relationships that I have built. There are a few key people in HTG 13 that I rely on for advice. I can honestly say that the following have taken place with fellow HTG13 members in the last five business days: We email each other our proposed web sites, marketing campaigns, interview templates, etc. When I tally up my trusted advisors around the world (and I'm blessed to have trusted advisors around the world), a significant number are in HTG -- either my group or other groups.


A Maturing Community

As always, it helps to take a step back and look at the larger community. I consider SMB Nation 2006 to be a major turning point for our community -- defined roughly as everyone remotely connected to SBS/SMB consulting and aware that there's a community.

After that event, it was clear that the community was showing its first signs of cracking -- the first signs that universal agreement on everything wasn't going to last. I remember writing at the time that this was actually good. It represented a maturing of the community.

Over the next few years it was clear that "the community" needs SMB Nation to fill a primary role as the intro-level education into professional consulting. It has also plays the secondary role of being the major focal point for community in this space.

But other conferences sprang up. People competed with Harry for conference attendees. Various organizations have tried to create the one big watering hole, but there's just way too much diversity.

Vlad is probably correct that the year ahead of us will see consolidation as various organizations and companies merge, partner-up, and try to forge a future for themselves.

- - - - -

As we hear again and again, it's easier to find certain kinds of success within a specific vertical market. In other words, the more niche-oriented you are, the more value you can maintain.

So for now HTG's niche is going to be providing value to ConnectWise users.

That's certainly different from "The Community" or even their current demographic make-up.

I suspect the average member will ignore this change until it actually affects their quarterly meetings. After all, if you get together with great people and exchange great ideas for 2-3 days solid, you're going to get great value from that exercise.

I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

In the meantime, I'm checking out the Taylor Business Groups.

And remember: It's all just business.

:-)




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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Juicy Stats

One of the places we buy lists is Dun and Bradstreet's ZapData web site.

If you register at that site, one of the things you can do it slice and dice the prospect lists to target your audience. See an example in my post on Do You Target Clients?.

Once you register on that site, you can review their "Industry Reports" on various industries. This is all drawn from their data, of course. Click on the blue button labeled "Industry Reports."

Here are the kinds of juicy information you'll find:

- Services
- - Legal

4-digit SIC code 8111

Reports include . . .
- Market Size Statistics
- Market Analysis by Company Size
- Market Analysis by State
- Market Analysis by Metro Area
- Market Analysis by Specialty

I note that California has 13% of the country's law firms. They have an average of five employees with averages annual sales of $400,000 USD. Obviously, not all of those employees are attorneys. :-)

Sacramento has about 2,200 law firms with an average of five employees and average sales of $400,000. So we're pretty darn average.

Even though there are 11,000 people employed at law firms, I don't need to target 11,000 people. In fact, I would be foolish to do so. There are key people who make decisions at law firms: Managing Partners and Office Managers. Of these, office managers are a lot easier to get ahold of.

Zap Data can't tell me who is the key person I need to contact at every company. But they can slice and dice a list so I can get a list of Office Managers only or Managing Partners only.

The more targeted my marketing, the better, of course.


Computer Consultants

When you look at your own industry, it helps you to learn a little more about the list service. For example, when I look at the stats for the Computer Maintenance and Repair industry (sic code 7378), I find about 17,500 businesses, half of which are one-person shops. My gut tells me that there's a equal number "off the grid" and invisible to Dun and Bradstreet.

But of the numbers in D&B's database, 36% have 2-4 employees and another 9% have 5-9 employees. Just 5% have ten or more employees.

The vast majority (1-5 employees) averages $100,000 USD in sales for every employee. That's good for 1-person shops. But it's great for 3-4 person shops because it means they're running pretty well -- assuming they've got at least one non-technician on the staff.

And here's some useful information on the competition: D&B reports 113 firms in the Sacramento area with an average of six employees and $500,000 in sales. This is quite a different market from Portland, OR with 115 firms with an average of two employees and $200,000 in sales.

I'm not sure why those demographics are so different, but it helps me understand the bigger picture as I consider moving into new markets.


Using This Information

There are two sides to this coin. I would start an analysis of a list service by comparing the information they give you about your own business/competition to what you know from your own experience. How accurate is the picture? If all their info is accurate, how does your business stack up?

Next, I'd look at your target client's industry in your area. Speculate about how accurate it is.

Consider those sales numbers very carefully. How much of your services can someone afford?

It helps a lot to take one of your clients to lunch and pick their brain. After all, if you want to know about dentists, talk to a dentist; if you want to know about accountants, talk to an accountant.

Find someone who is on the board of a local association and take them to lunch. Be honest. Tell them you're trying to determine whether that industry would be good prospects for the services you offer.

Note: This little routine is a great way to make great connections. Leader types took that position in part because they have a "help others" gene that you can tap into for the price of a lunch.

Anyway, figure out what the high, medium, and low profit margins are for your target market.

If net profit is in the range of 10% and sales are $100,000, that's a profit of $10,000 per year. With that small of a net, your focus needs to be on cost savings in order to increase profit. Next, you have to figure out what they're currently spending on I.T. services (hardware, software, labor). If you could decrease the I.T. spend for these folks, you could move that $10k up to $11k or $12k. That's significant for them.

If the profit is more like 20% and sales are in the range of $500,000, then it's a different story. Net profit could be $100,000 and you'll have a tougher time making a significant improvement on that. So for those clients your approach will be in giving greater value for the budget they have. You still have to figure out their budget. But your approach will be different from the smaller prospect.

Of course, if you can replace an in-house I.T. person, then you CAN have a significant impact on their bottom line.


Obligatory Kick In The Butt:

Once you buy a list use it! Don't just buy a list and never get around to doing something with it.

Design a campaign around what you think these companies are really like, what they need, and what they can afford. If you're completely off the mark, your return will be zero. So the more research and self-education you do the better.

When you align your message, your offer, and your prospects, the return will be great. But it takes some work!

:-)



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