Saturday, March 27, 2010

Join me in the UK! Two Big Events

Well, the house sitter is lined up. Bills have been paid. Payrolls figured out.

Now I get to hop on an airplane and visit my friends in England and Scotland for a few weeks!

If you can, please plan to join me for one of these two events:

April 1, 2010: Reading

The Thames Valley SBSC (Small Business Specialist Community) group

Symantec offices in Green Park, Reading

Karl's topic: Zero Downtime Migration Strategies

The event starts SHARP at 5:30 pm and will end at 8pm. Please be there on time as we need to leave the building by 8pm due to Symantec’s security policies.

PLEASE NOTE : There is no charge for this event, but is essential that you let Chris Timm know if you are coming so that we can arrange for catering. If you are interested in coming along, or you have any other questions on this event, please email info.zdtm@tcgcomputerservices.com.

- - - - -

April 6, 2010: Birmingham

AMITPRO group - Midlands

Arden Hotel and Leisure Club, Solihull, West Midlands
(Directions)

Karl's topic: Zero Downtime Migration Strategies

Gather at 5:00 PM, Program starts at 5:30 PM. Goal is to finish around 8:30 PM.

Karl will be appearing back to back with his good friend Richard Tubb of JamesCash.co.uk. Richard will speak about Business Processes for SMB IT companies.

If you're new to this group and wish to attend, ping Guy@peaksupport.co.uk.

- - - - -

Note: If you are attending one of these events AND you would like a special deal on our new Network Migration Workbook, Please Visit This Page. You will get a great price on the book and no shipping charges!

You do not need to buy a book in order to attend one of these events.

Right now these events have 20+ people each, so sign up before registration has to close!


:-)



Join Karl for a Zero Downtime Migration Seminar

April 1, 2010
- Join Karl at the Thames Valley SBSC Group / Symantec Offices in Green Park, Reading, UK
- Zero Downtime Migrations - 5:30 to 8:00 PM - Includes food!
- For Details see Chris Timm's Blog
- or visit SMB Books

April 6, 2010
- Join Karl in Birmingham, England
- Appearing with Richard Tubb at the AMITPRO meeting.
- Visit AMITPRO for more info
- or visit SMB Books

April 17, 2010
- Join Karl in Miami, FL
- All Day Event. Includes Breakfast, Lunch, and 8 hours of information!
- Network Documentation and Network Migration
See details at smbbooks.com

Motivation 101 - Five Steps to Activate Your Potential in Any Economy


We've got a great new CD Training Kit at SMB Books. It has been produced by our very own Jerry Kennedy.

Have you been negatively impacted by all the bad news coming at you from the media outlets? Are you looking for a way to get yourself revved up and ready for action? If so, Motivation 101 is the perfect program for you! It outlines a clear, step-by-step program that will kick-start your motivation and put you on the right track to achieving the success you deserve.

Jerry is the new sales guy over at KPEnterprises (Sacramento's Premier Microsoft Certified Partner.

The program is called Motivation 101 - Five Steps to Activate Your Potential in Any Economy and includes a bunch of great material:
  • The Motivation 101 Audio Program
  • Motivation 101 e-book
  • Motivation 101 e-workbook
  • Bonus Report: HERO Selling and Your Business
  • Bonus mp3 Audio: HERO Selling Teleclass w/Christine Giri and Kelli Wilson
  • 4 Free e-books:
    • The Common sense Entrepreneur - Joel D Canfield
    • Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill
    • What is Sales 2.0? - Brad Trnavsky and Friends
    • Hidden Secrets of Sales and Marketing - Rory Sheehan and Friends

WOW! That's 120 minutes of total audio
(60 for M101 and 60 for the HERO teleclass)

and 784 total pages
(48 for M101 e-book and workbook and the rest bonus reports and free e-books).

For only $29.95 ! Amazing!

Order Yours Now

$29.95

Or visit SMB Books for more information.

Note: There is an automatic 10% discount if you buy ten or more copies of this product.


Author Bio info : Jerry Kennedy is a sales trainer and motivator based in northern California. His audio programs and live trainings have helped hundreds of small business owners, entrepreneurs and selling professionals achieve greater success.

Jerry Kennedy is currently the Solution Specialist for KPEnterprises Business Consulting, Inc. in Sacramento, CA.


:-)



Now Shipping . . .
The Best NOC and Service Desk Operations Book Ever!

by Erick Simpson

Ships from stock right now!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Follow Me To The Cloud

Here is approximately how I feel about "Cloud Computing":

"Fly me to the moon . . . let me play among the stars . . ."

- - - - -

We have lots of activities going on in and around cloud services. KPEnterprises (my tech company) is actively developing cloud service offerings and selling them to our new and existing clients. We've developed a sweet little offering for micro clients (ten users and less).

In the meantime, over at SMB Books, we're developing programs to spread the word for other consultants.

If you're interested in cloud stuff . . . Here are some things we're up to.


Webinar Series: Migrating from SBS to the Cloud

In association with MSPU, I am producing three webinars on the theme Migrating from SBS to the Cloud. I'll post a precise link and update this blog. But the training materials are at www.mspu.us. (They're just redoing their site, so give them a little time to index everything, but you should be able to find it there.)

There will be three installments, about a month apart. The first one was March 9th and has been recorded at MSPU.

The basic agenda looks like this:

March 9th: Part 1 = The View from 20,000 Feet

April 13th: Part 2 = Options, Hardware, Software, and Service Considerations

May 11th: Part 3 = Building a New Business Model

The first installment is intended to be a good overview of how you move functions from in-house to the cloud. If you've read The Network Migration Workbook then the basic flow will make sense. We're going to migrate one thing at a time.

I identify 18 core functions of the basic small business and talk about how you can choose to move these to one (or more) of three cloud options. I've talked before about the cloud options before:

- Internet cloud services (reselling someone else's hosted services)

- Partner-hosted cloud services (inside your data center/colo)

- On-premise cloud services (e.g., Zenith's Smart Style or something you designed yourself)

The second installment looks at some of the specifics of choosing the hardware, software, and services that you'll bundle together in your offerings. I'll give examples from my company's cloud service offerings and show you how they compare to non-cloud services for our clients.

The third installment talks about developing a new business model around this stuff. Your business will change dramatically. How do you do that?

Of course there will always be some functions that are best place in-house and will never move to the cloud. The beautiful part about that realization is that you'll commit early on to living in both worlds. That will serve you well.

In many ways SBS 2003 / SBS 2008 is perfectly suited to be part of a partially-cloud-based environment.


Live Seminars

For example, on April 17th in Miami, Florida I've got an all-day training (8 hours) on Network Documentation, Zero Downtime Migration, and Migrating from SBS to The Cloud.

Only $199, includes breakfast and lunch!

Sign up right now

or Find Out More

This seminar features . . .

• LOTS of best practices on documentation, project management, client management, employee management, and network migrations
• How to conceptualize a ZDTM project
• How to run a ZDTM project
• Estimating, Quoting, and Selling the project
• Moving from "the quote" to Service Requests in your ticketing system
• Working the ZDTM project profitably
• Documenting networks from A to Z: Using checklists, paper forms, and electronic tools
• Special focus on Migrating from SBS to The Cloud - including specific options with Sample Quotes for your clients
• Real World strategies and techniques you can take home and use immediately
• and more!


Cloud Services Roundtable

In case you haven't heard, we started a new broadcast/podcast series called Cloud Services Roundtable. It is normally broadcast live on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Harry Brelsford joins me on the third Wednesday of each month as co-host and business speaker.

The shows are recorded and available for download by subscribers. It is free to listen live and only $4.95/month to subscribe to past shows. And I must say that the feedback has been extremely positive. Check it out at Cloud Services Roundtable.


My Blog - smallbizthoughts.com

This blog has been giving a lot of coverage to Cloud Services. Search for the tag like this: http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/search/label/Cloud%20Computing and you'll see what I mean.

If I have thoughts on the subject, they're posted here. Tell your friends and neighbors.

- - - - -

So stay tuned to this blog, plus Facebook. Whatever I learn about the world of the cloud I'm going feed to you in the community. Except stuff under NDA, of course. There's some pretty cool stuff there, but I was recently reminded how that can simply disappear before it becomes reality.

". . . Fill my heart with song . . . and let me sing forever more . . ."


Personal Note

I have been getting a LOT of email from folks who want to call me, email, buy me lunch, and suck my brain dry on cloud services. I am sorry, but I can't do it. Like you, I have limited hours in the day. Unless you're a paying client, I need to broadcast information in a many-to-one format.

The only way I can afford to help people for free is in these broadcast formats. I'm sorry about that, but I have to keep the lights on at my office and home. And right now I have way too many requests for quick phone calls about services.

If you grab me at a conference and buy me a beer, that's another story.

Questions/feedback welcome.


:-)



Now Shipping:
The Network Migration Workbook:
Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Karl's 2010 SMB Roadmap Part 1 - The Destruction of The Channel

You know, an interesting thing happens when you "live" online and put your thoughts out for everyone to share: They become public record and you are easily held accountable for what you say. No one really ever calls me on it . . . but you could keep track of my predictions and score their accuracy.

I'm going to ignore every wrong thing I've ever said. Which I can do because it's my blog. :-)

But when I'm right . . . Woo Hoo! You're going to hear about it.

This is the first post in a series on Emerging Server Strategies for SMB. I've covered this topic several times in the last few years. And I'm happy to report that my wild speculations have fared pretty well. But 2010 is a very different kind of year. So I think it's time to focus again on this topic and see if we can figure out where we're headed.

The key factors in this are familiar to you.
- Cloud services is becoming very real very fast
- Hardware and Software distribution is going to be shaken to its core in the next 12 months
- Product development (hardware and software) is going to shift dramatically in the next 12 months
- The entire channel infrastructure that we know today will essentially disappear in the next 24 months
- . . . And you better either find a way to make money in all this or go back to school and figure out what your next career is

Warning: This may be very disturbing news to you.

If you think you're going to continue selling boxes into small offices, along with a big-ass server and all the related hardware, you're going to get hit like a bug on the windshield of small business. The future is coming very, very fast. And when the economic recovery begins to pick up steam, the advances will be alarming.

Here's a prediction you can write down in your diary: MANY of the biggest companies in our channel will suffer tremendously over the next few years. Manufacturers, resellers, distributors, hardware vendors, and software vendors. Some will go out of business and some will be acquired in fun and interesting ways.

Let me explain . . .

I try to keep busy. So I travel around, I meet people, I record what they say, and I try to integrate it into my life and business. If you pay any attention here you know that I have embraced The Cloud in my business. I'm developing cloud-based offerings, I'm reselling other peoples' stuff. I'm moving clients to the cloud.

At the same time, I have a long-standing interest in how technology is evolving inside small businesses. What do Micro, Small, and Medium size businesses really need?

Hardware and software vendors have engaged us suddenly in some surprising ways. Big companies are pinging me and asking how they can help create just the right product for our space. One of them was sorely disappointed with the answer I gave them. Another one is about to be sorely disappointed.

Sometimes really big companies get things really wrong. They make one (or more) of the three primary mistakes of big business:

1) They assume that their channel will sell whatever they produce

2) They don't research enough to find out what's out there

3) They don't ask the people who actually work with small businesses what they need

Number One is bazaar. After all, big companies generally create product after product, year after year. Most of them fail and a few of them succeed. If you think about it, they're like little venture capital operations within a multi-billion dollar operation. So they fund a bunch of stuff and stick with the winners.

So you'd think they would know that stuff won't sell just because their partners like/love them. Maybe they only hire eager, optimistic people to run these development programs. That makes sense, but it's odd to sit around a table looking at the faces of a multi-million dollar dev team and tell them that no one will ever buy their product.

Number Two is inexcusable. I know the whole managed service biz came on real fast for a lot of people, but I've seen an amazing number of products that are completely misaligned with reality. One guy made a presentation to our user group about a super-cool monitoring tool that basically amounted to Kaseya 1.0 - and he wanted $1,000 per company to deploy it.

He literally had no idea what people were already doing. He had no idea how people like us run our businesses. He didn't know that there are dozens of RMM tools out there and that they are almost free in most instances. My company, KPEnterprises, is not unusual in rolling up a bunch of services into one offering. The the RMM tool essentially disappears in the mix. I can't turn around and sell the client some big, fancy monitoring system. Maybe for 500 desktops. But not for 5.

Number Three is understandable and still a very bad idea. I can't tell you how many times I've been in meetings with arrogant development and marketing teams who simply poo-poo the opinions of SMB Consultants. We don't sell enterprise licensing to Fortune 500 companies, so we couldn't possibly know how things work. These are the people who end up putting a price tag of $100,000 on a service intended for small business. And then you go to dinner and find out that none of them has a boss with spending authority over $10,000. THEY couldn't buy this product for their multi-billion dollar company but they think some attorney with 20 desktops is going to gobble it up!


The Destruction of The Channel

Kent Erickson was on the most recent Cloud Services Roundtable (which will be posted real soon). He made an extremely important statement that many people may have passed over:

There is a mis-alignment between what our channel does and what needs to happen in the future.

Think about it. What is the channel? The channel includes product development, product distribution, resellers, implementers, and feedback mechanisms for these relationships.

And what is the future all about? It's about technology simply existing without regard to hardware and software. Microsoft Azure will happily run Linux. Amazon just announced March 25th that they have a system to move enterprise Windows licenses to their cloud services.

You are getting out of the hardware and software business. At best, you're doing to see a dramatic reduction in sales.

That's bad news for Ingram, Synnex, D&H, Tech Data, and even CDW. They will try to sell to massive enterprise customers, but those customers are very motivated to go direct to manufacturers. The SMB market will all but disappear for these vendors. The primary purchasers of hardware will be massive data centers. Why would they not go direct?

I'm not recommending any stock purchases in your portfolio of hardware and software distributors.

Software will be one of the biggest industries to make the switch.

Lots of partners are pissed off that Microsoft is selling directly against us with BPOS. This is just the first chink in the armor of the channel program. Next move is to cut out the distributors.

When everyone goes online and simply clicks a box to use Windows Server, SBS, MS Office, etc. there will be no place for Ingram or Synnex. As cloud services grow faster and faster it will simply be a matter of time before sales of software through the traditional distributors will cease to exist.

The distribution of hardware and software through traditional distributors will cease to exist.

I repeat that because the ramifications for our industry are huge.

Let me introduce the 800 pound gorilla in the room. The only reason more manufacturers have not gone direct is that they believe there's more money to be made in the long run by using traditional distribution. Some of them honestly believe in the channel. I would give Microsoft, Trend, and Sonicwall as examples. Others give lip service to the channel but can't help screwing their partners at every opportunity. I'm thinking of a company that begins with "Dell."

Technology and modern software delivery make it extremely easy for software manufacturers to cut out the distributor. There is no more distribution, really. There's only keeping track of licenses. Microsoft, Adobe, and Symantec don't need Tech Data to play the role of outsourced accountants. And that's what they've become.

There is no good reason for any software manufacturer to give a piece of their profit to a distributor. Therefore, it's a matter of time before this change takes place.

So where are we?
- You're selling little or no hardware
- You're selling little or no software
- The distributors are decimated. I suspect a merger of two or more distributors by the end of this year.
- Microsoft's biggest clients are going to 1) Enterprises that buy 10,000's of licenses at a time, and 2) Google, Amazon, Rackspace, etc. This is probably already true.

And when I say "it's a matter of time" I'm thinking about a Moore's Law kind of time: Technology and the speed of development will keep doubling.

So you don't have much time.

As this earthquake begins to shake our universe, who will do well? In my opinion, the companies that have steadfastly participating in building good channel partner programs will have those relationships to rely on. Remember those big mistakes I started out with? Well, the easiest way to overcome all of them is to keep your partner relationships and feedback mechanisms healthy.

Microsoft has taken their hits, but they have an extremely powerful set of aggressive feedback mechanisms. They engage their users and resellers at virtually every level. I think they're going to take some more hits, but they'll be fine.

I'm afraid my friends at HP and Dell are in for a very rough ride. And smaller manufacturers may be in for the ride of their life - literally.

The distributors are going to be like the newspaper industry. They'll hang on long after their usefulness has disappeared. They know this. That's why they're working on offering services. Ingram is the leader in this. They'll still suffer, and I don't want to ride their stock all the way to the bottom before it starts heading back up, but I think they'll be a survivor.

- - - - -

I am not making any judgements here. This isn't "right" or "wrong" but merely the point we're at in history.

As I've said before, it's a matter of time before the phone company offers your client all the technology they need for a flat monthly fee. Thin client included. Self installation.

It is very difficult for some people to believe what I'm telling you. But let me assure you: The collection of NDAs in my file cabinet leads me to believe that this is our future. It has been stalled a bit by the economy, that just increases demand when the money starts flowing.

Today we're moving a client to a cloud-based offering that is exactly the same price as they were paying for server financing plus managed services. But now they won't have a server, and they'll never have a server, and somehow we're making more money on the deal than we did selling servers. That's our future.

Everyone I talked about today is trying to figure out what they can sell into the SMB space - it's the biggest business space in the world. But in a world without server hardware or software, what can they sell. The winners will win big.

In the next installment I'm going to give an update on the server options available today and how servers are being right-sized for SMB clients.

:-)



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

SMB Community Podcasts Posted

We've now posted five SMB Community Podcasts. You can download all the juicy bits at www.greatlittlepodcast.com.

Here are the latest summaries:

SMB Community Podcast #5
Motivation, Inspiration, and Butt Kicking
March 25, 2010 - SMB Community Podcast #5 features a gaggle of business coaches helping you stay focused and looking in the right direction.

Contributors include . . .

- George Sierchio - Spending Time on Your Business

- Susanne Dansey - Work Life Balance

- Stuart Selbst - Report on Spring Training

- Excerpt from Erick Simpson's Service Delivery book


SMB Community Podcast #4
March Community Shout-Outs and News
March 24, 2010 - This episode features Community News, advice, and general tidbits.

This podcast includes community shout-outs (including one from an airplane), conference information, Job Search tips, speculation about cloud service offerings, and news from the Zenith Infotech/Autotask road show.


Older Shows Include . . .

Snippets from

- Lots of "Shout-Outs" to the SMB Community

- Reports on the SMB VOIP conferece (a very fun podcast)

- David Kelliher from GFI

- Excerpts Erick Simpson's Service Delivery Book

- Chris Timm

- Travis Austin

- Jeff Middleton

- And more!


Please Contribute

Just call me on Skype (karlpalachuk), or use one of these phone numbers:

In The U.S:
Call L.A. Phone number 213-814-2289

In The U.K:
Call London Phone number +44 20 8144 8788

In Australia:
Call Sydney Phone number +61 2 8003 6966

Leave a voicemail and I'll do the rest.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed. We've got more in the pipeline. Just gotta have time to edit it all!



:-)



Join Karl for a Zero Downtime Migration Seminar

April 1, 2010
- Join Karl at the Thames Valley SBSC Group / Symantec Offices in Green Park, Reading, UK
- Zero Downtime Migrations - 5:30 to 8:00 PM - Includes food!
For Details see Chris Timm's Blog


April 6, 2010
- Join Karl in Birmingham, England
- Appearing with Richard Tubb at the AMITPRO meeting.
- Visit AMITPRO for more info


April 17, 2010
- Join Karl in Miami, FL
- All Day Event. Includes Breakfast, Lunch, and 8 hours of information!
- Network Documentation and Network Migration
See details at smbbooks.com

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pocket Dialing - A Serious Security Consideration

You might think this is a joke, but it is absolutely NOT.

I recently put out three phone numbers so people could call into the SMB Community Podcast and leave messages. We tie them all together and create a podcast by/for YOU. See www.greatlittlepodcast.com.

All good. We got lots of input.

Many people obviously added us to their speed dials. I'm honored.

. . . And alarmed!

Over the course of the last two weeks we have received dozens of pocket dials. People dialed in and didn't even know it. Most of this stuff was essentially nothing. But a few items were quite juicy.

I listen in on sales meetings and client meetings. Yeah, there was lots of typing. But there were a few VERY interesting comments about clients and vendors that I'm sure people do not want broadcast.

Most are from "Unknown phone number." But not all. A few were from people on my contact list and a lot were from listed phone numbers. Yes, I called these people and let them know.

Question: Are you (or your employees) leaving private company information on someone's voicemail?

This is serious stuff.

Your phone policy should include a warning to people that their speed dials should be used cautiously. And if you've discovered that your cell phone has accidently dialed someone, consider either 1) Removing them from speed dial, or 2) Make a habit of locking your phone when not in use.

There is essentially no limit to the kind of information that can leak out of your company, affecting your reputation. And since almost every phone number now has voicemail, your accidental speed dialing will likely leave a trace somewhere.

Consider this item, verified by Snopes: Criminals Unintentionally Turned Themselves In by Dialing 911.

That's great if you're catching bad guys. But who's going to put out a press release that they accidentally dial a phone number and recorded a conversation about their client's sales strategy?

I'm not saying this is a huge problem, but it's a serious concern and you should keep it in mind.

Thus ends my cautionary tale.


:-)



Give-Away Ending Soon

Winners will be announce March 29th. Enter to win a free ticket today!

- Win a free pass to Robin Robins' Bootcamp

- Win a free pass to Autotask Community Live

- Win a free pass to Jeff Middleton's SBS Migration Conference

Compliments of SMB Books.

Free to enter.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cloud Services Roundtable: Pointivity

www.CloudServicesRoundtable.com

Next Up on the Cloud Services Roundtable: Kent Erickson - Cloud Service Offerings for the SMB Space

This is a Special Day. See note on the end regarding schedule.

Kent is with Pointivity in San Diego and we'll talk to him about building large-scale cloud services for the SMB space. For more details, see the web site.

Broadcast is scheduled for
Wed. Mar. 24th
9:00 AM Pacific

More information and registration at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/762613481

Kent Erickson
We'll talk to one of the great trainers and evangelists of cloud computing in the SMB Space - Kent Erickson from Pointivity. This company has been providing training on Cloud Services and developing some cloud offerings specifically for SMB resellers. And this week they are announcing a great new project called Cloud Channel. See www.channelcloud.com.

We're going to let someone else scoop the actual announcement. We're not the ace reporters. But we'll do an in-depth interview and give you as much specific information as we can about how you can make money in the cloud. As Kent says . . .
    "The launch of ChannelCloud is going to be exciting. Something totally new and sorely needed in the channel. Our goal is to propel channel members into the next evolution of computing and distance themselves from their competitors. The cloud is a blue ocean opportunity and early adopters who can achieve speed in execution will capture the majority of the gains."

Topics Include:

1. General discussion on the cloud . . . What is driving, implications, critical path/rate of change, hurdles, opportunities.
2. What options does the channel have in adopting cloud technologies for their practice
3. What to look for in choosing a cloud platform or partner
4. We can discuss the value proposition of Channel Cloud

Join us to see what kinds of services are available for resale and how your company can profit from these offerings (this company and others).

Kent's Contact info:

Web: www.channelcloud.com
Email kent@channelcloud.com

Schedule Note
Note: There is a schedule change for the Cloud Services Roundtable in March and April. We normally broadcast live on the first and third Wednesdays. But due to travel and other commitments, we are having a few shows on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays.

These show include March 24th, April 14th, and possibly April 28th. One of these is . . .

Join us for a great show!

- - - - -

If you would rather listen on YOUR schedule whenever it's convenient for you, you can subscribe to the members-only area. This area will include all recorded podcasts as well as any related materials such as workbooks or PowerPoint slides.

The cost for membership is only $4.95 per month or $49.95 per year. Of course you can cancel any time.

Thank you for your support. We look forward to a great seminar series.

If you have any questions, please email karlp@greatlittlebook.com.

Register Now

We now have several recordings up at Cloud Services Roundtable. The feedback has been great. We had a lot of questions and audience feedback. The recording is posted now for members at www.CloudServicesRoundtable.com.

:-)



Now Shipping . . .
The Best NOC and Service Desk Operations Book Ever!

by Erick Simpson

Ships from stock right now!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Harry Throws Three East-Coast Beer Fests

Got the following nice from HarryB at SMB Nation . . . Important information (involves beer):

Contact: Harry Brelsford
SMB Nation

(206) 201-2943
harryb@smbnation.com

For Immediate Release:

SMB BEERFESTS MARCH 23-25, 2010 EAST COAST
- SMB Nation and SpamSoap supporting small and medium business channel partners, technology consultants and resellers at well-respected evening "BeerFests" -

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WA March 17, 2010 - The major worldwide SMB community organization, SMB Nation, announced today that it has teamed with SpamSoap and committed to a series of "BeerFests" in three east coast cities between March 23-25, 2010. This event is limited to 25-attendees.

The small and medium business (SMB) channel partner that attends this evening BeerFest enjoys socializing and networking with like-minded technology professionals and SMB author Harry Brelsford. The attendee also has a strong preference for enjoying a good pint of beer. There is an emphasis on bona fide fun as well as peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.

The agenda is simple. After opening remarks from SpamSoap regarding its SMB protection software and its reseller program, SMB Nation's Harry Brelsford will introduce the SMB Nation Spring 2010 conference coming to East Brunswick NJ (April 30- May 2). After those short speeches and an honorary toast, the conversations and beer flow freely. Past conversations have included:

- The withdrawal of Windows Essential Business Server (EBS) from the market
- SMB Voice-over-IP alternatives
- Making money in a cloud computing world
- How to sell managed services as an MSP.

"Right now, there's an incredible opportunity stemming from the recovering SMB market to get together and night and have a friendly beer," said Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation. "An independent VAR/consultant/.channel partner can meet like-minded professionals in a fun environment and discuss business! Think of these BeerFests as a community event."

"We've found combining business and beer to be a great way to meet the fantastic SMB community," commented Leonard Dimiceli, director of channel sales for SpamSoap.

Details for the 8:00pm to 9:30PM EST evening BeerFest events are:
- Boston (March 23, Tuesday), 8PM EST. Sign up HERE: http://www.clicktoattend.com/?id=146736
- New York City (March 24, Wednesday), 8PM EST. Sign up HERE: http://www.clicktoattend.com/?id=146677
- Washington DC (March 25, Thursday), 8PM: Sign up HERE: http://www.clicktoattend.com/?id=146679

Contacts:
Harry Brelsford
SMB Nation
harryb@smbnation.com
+1 206 915 3072

:-)



Now Shipping:
The Network Migration Workbook:
Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Service Request Basics

I had a conversation the other day with a partner who was trying to figure out how to get started with his ticketing system. He just happens to use Autotask, so he called me. It could just as well be ConnectWise or Tigerpaw.

I can't say we necessarily do this "The Right Way" but we have a system that works for us. If you want a bunch more perspective with a bunch of examples and details, you'll need to read Erick Simpson's NOC Book.

We use the ticketing system to work our process. So, really, this part hasn't changed at all between ConnectWise and Autotask, we just click on different things in a different order.

What's Not in the Ticketing System

Perhaps the most important part of our ticketing process is that We don't have a help desk. What does that mean? It means there's no one on our staff whose job is to sit around waiting to be interrupted and do whatever the next phone caller wants. We've never had that. We might some day. But today our process looks like this:

- Phone rings simultaneously on three non-technical desktops. If none of these three answers the phone it rolls to the tech dept.

- Only one person is allowed to answer the phone in the tech dept each day. If that person is not available for some reason (working on something else, on the phone, out to lunch), then the call rolls to voice mail.

- If any of these people catch the call and it's a client with a problem, they determine whether the problem is old (existing Service Request) or new. If new, whoever answered the phone creates an SR. If old, call is transferred cold to the tech dept or specific tech.

There are only two goals for answering the phone. First, clients want to talk to a human even if they won't get help right away. We've educated them on efficiency and "the system" but they are people who want to talk to people. So even though it's faster to enter an SR online, they want the human contact. The second goal for answering the phone is to create an SR. Period. Not work it. Create it.

I've used this analogy before: The Service Request is a bucket into which a client can put money. If there's no bucket, there can't be any money. Therefore, creating the SR is more important to our business than almost anything else. It's the only way a technician can log time. It's the only way a technician can get paid. It's the only way a client's problem can be solved. It's everything. Creating this ticket is just about the most important thing that happens in our company. Sales is first.

STOP
For some reason, many people get stuck right here. They can't figure out how to get this part done - how to make sure an SR is created first. I don't know how to help you except to say just do it. Create a rule. Make a sign. Berate people. Ask every employee on every issue "Is there a service request?"

This simple rule will make or save you thousands of dollars. Every month. Really, really, really. Just do it.


What's In the Ticketing System

Once a ticket (SR) exists, the rest of the process can come into play.

Whether an SR is created by the office manager or a client, the same things happen . . .

- The ticket is created in the Client Access Queue

- The ticket has a "normal" priority, which for us is 3 - Medium

- The ticket has a status of "new"

- The ticket is assigned to the default (managed service) contract. In other words it is assumed to be "covered" unless there's a reason it shouldn't be.

- A time estimate is entered. This allows us to speculate about how much work we still have in the system.

Each of these elements is important to the overall success of the system. In addition, if you can collect the Issue Type and Sub-Type, that can be very handy.


The Flow . . .

So now the ticket exists, it is in a status of New, it is in the Client Access Queue.

One technician each day (same one who answers phones) has the job of monitoring the new tickets. Nothing can stay new for very long. New tickets send pages to cell phones and poke people in the butt. This is done for a reason: We can't miss a new ticket. It might be critical and not just normal. But no matter how normal it is, we can't miss it!

Anyway, so the ticket exists and is now in the tech dept. The tech catching call/SRs then looks at the ticket and verifies or makes the following changes . . .

- Acknowledge the Ticket. This includes an email to the client as well as checking data entry and making sure the ticket is properly prepared to work it's way through the system. Change status to acknowledged.

- Is the Priority correct? I discuss priorities in my Service Agreements Book and in my Managed Services in a Month so I won't go into detail here.

Suffice it to say that the right priority makes a difference.

- Move the SR to the correct Queue. The SR will probably move to the Tech I Queue so it can be worked by technicians.

- Verify the work to be done. This includes verifying the work type and sub-type, which will help greatly to determine whether the priority, time estimate, and contract (billability) are correct.

- Make sure the ticket title/short description is descriptive. The ticket title should be about 5-7 words on what needs to be done. "Jay's printer" is a bad title. "Jay can't print on HP3600" is a better title.

- Verify time estimate

- Verify contract / billability

If additional information is needed, the technician may contact the client and ask some questions or get clarification on something that was entered into the ticket. Again, he's probably not working the ticket at this time.

When all these items are complete, the ticket status is moved to "Schedule This."

In our business, that's the sign that a ticket is ready to be worked. We have a sense of priority, we actually know what we're doing, we know it's in the right bucket with regard to covered vs. billable. Now we can make money!

Despite the fact that I give a lot of detail here, this entire process is extremely fast. Probably no more than five minutes for whoever created the ticket and five minutes for the technician. Don't be overwhelmed by the details.

If you're just starting out, take a screen shot of your New Ticket entry form and highlight in yellow the key fields:

- Title
- Status
- Priority
- Queue
- Time Estimate
- Issue Type/sub-type
- Contract / billability


Working the Ticket

This is a whole different topic, but I'll give you the view from 30,000 feet. We work all tickets from highest priority to lowest priority, and from oldest to newest. That means that at any given time a technician can look in the queue and pick out any ticket that has a status of "schedule this" and then simply grab the highest priority ticket.

There are almost never "priority one" tickets. These are true emergencies. So let's look at P2 or "high" priority. If there are three P2 tickets, you'll work the oldest one. Period. It's that simple. When you've moved that as far as you can you'll refresh the list and take the next-oldest P2. And so forth.

So you see why we don't have a help desk? A help desk is an inefficient, interrupt-driven process. It is a disorganized operation intended to make you feel like you're giving good service when you're really doing your clients a disservice because you're working on low-priority tickets instead of high-priority tickets.

In my opinion, all work in your life and your business should be based on priorities. You want to be super successful? Always work on the highest priority thing you have. Period. Throw away your calendars and schedules. If everyone in your company is always focused on the highest priority items you will be amazingly productive.

The only downside to this model is that you will have long periods in which your technicians will have nothing to do. Our company frequently has periods with fewer than a dozen service requests in the entire system. So we've got three full time techs and a couple of part timers with nothing to do except play with new software and polish their monitors. There are lots of reasons for this, but working everything in priority order is a major piece of it.


Oh, and one final note on help desk . . .

We never have client complaints about this. Maybe they think we DO have a help desk. Maybe we're so darned efficient that we always get back to them in a timely manner. Maybe we've set expectations properly. I don't know. But it just works.

My two cents.


:-)



Join Karl for a Zero Downtime Migration Seminar

New Orleans, March 17th
- - Join us today!

Miami, FL, April 17th

Monday, March 15, 2010

Great Telecom books - From SMB Books

Okay, I found two amazing books by one author. Of course he's totally known, loved, and understood in the Telecom space. Let me introduce him to the SMB Consulting community: Mr. Ray Horak.

Ray Horak held management and executive management positions with Southwestern Bell, Continental Telephone Company (CONTEL), and Communications Group Inc. He is an independent consultant, a popular speaker, a trainer, an author, and a columnist. He teaches seminars around the world on a variety of telecommunications subjects. He also has considerable experience as a consulting technical expert and expert witness in litigation involving patents, copyrights, trademarks, and other intellectual property matters.

He has several books, most published by Wiley. The two that caught my eye are . . .


Webster's New World Telecom Dictionary


and


Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook



First, The Telecom Dictionary
is just a great resource. It's the ultimate random-access fun book for nerds. Open any page and you'll find something interesting about the telecom space. And for those of you a little iffy on ethernet and the networks on which you'll be installing those VOIP systems, this will also serve as an excellent primer on that.

One the most common things we notice as we move into the telecom space is that they have WAY more acronyms than we do. And they're not shy about spreading the acronyms around. This book is a really good, and interesting book on the telecom industry. We've got it for only $24.95 so you can't go wrong. Guaranteed Good.

Second, The Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook
is a monster. It's hard cover. It's big. It's the size of TWO Network Migration Workbooks in one.

If the Telecom Dictionary is a dictionary (which it is), then think of this monster tome is the encyclopedia of telecom. Great stories, great examples, great detail. While the Telecom Dictionary give short descriptions, this gives 1-2 page articles of description.

You'll also find some GREAT stories about the early history of communications, telecommunications, and data communications.

Why did the calvery shave horses' butts and stick copper wires on them? You'll have to read and find out.

Which brings us to . . .

Third, These are FUN books.
Uh . . . okay. I'm a nerd. But these books are really filled with great stories and tidbits about the techology we use. You want some seriously cood trivia stories to impress your nerdier friends? This is the mother lode!

- - - -

We've actually added a new section to SMBBooks.com just for Telecom and VOIP. We expect to see more books in this area.

Look for these books and more. Check out the combo pack (tele-combo).

More on The Telecom Dictionary
Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary, by Ray Horak, is a comprehensive telecommunications dictionary of more than 7,500 terms critical to understanding voice, data, video, and multimedia communications system and network technologies, applications, and regulation.

Given the convergence of computing and communications, the book also effectively is a computer dictionary with a telecom focus. It is thoroughly researched, highly objective, absolutely accurate, and includes just about every essential term, abbreviation, acronym, contraction, initialism, and portmanteau you might encounter in the telecom and datacom domains.

Although the book is a technical dictionary, Horak’s plain-English, commonsense style yields definitions that are as thoroughly understandable to the business professional or student as they are to the electrical engineer. In fact, many entries are encyclopedic in nature, discussing applications and issues.

Horak also injects a bit of his wry sense of humor, sprinkling occasional telecom trivia and marginally related definitions that will have you smiling and chuckling to yourself, but not to the point that they detract from what is an important book on a serious subject.

Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary is the one and only telecom dictionary you will need. It also makes a perfect companion to Horak’s Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook.

Find Out More

More on The Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook
For an accessible and comprehensive survey of telecommunications and data communications technologies and services, consult the Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook, which includes information on origins, evolution and meaningful contemporary applications.

Find discussions of technologies set in context, with details on fiber optics, cellular radio, digital carrier systems, TCP/IP, and the Internet. Explore topics like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP); 802.16 & WiMAX; Passive Optical Network (PON); 802.11g & Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) in this easily accessible guide without the burden of technical jargon.

Table of Contents
Preface.
Acknowledgments.
About the Author.

1 FUNDAMENTALS OF THE TECHNOLOGY: CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS
1.1 Fundamental Definitions
1.2 Dedicated, Switched, and Virtual Circuits
1.3 Two-Wire versus Four-Wire Circuits
1.4 Bandwidth
1.5 Analog versus Digital
1.6 Loading Coils, Amplifiers, and Repeaters
1.7 Conversion Process: Modems and Codecs
1.8 Multiplexers (Muxes)
1.9 Switches and Switching: The Basics . . . and Then Some
1.10 Signaling and Control.

References.

2 FUNDAMENTALS OF TRANSMISSION SYSTEMS: TECHNOLOGIES AND APPLICATIONS
2.1 Electromagnetic Spectrum
2.2 Transmission Media Selection Criteria
2.3 Twisted Pair: Introduction to Telephone Wire
2.4 Shielded Copper
2.5 Coaxial Cable
2.6 Microwave Radio
2.7 Satellite Radio
2.8 Free Space Optics
2.9 Fiber Optics
2.10 Powerline Carrier
2.11 Hybrid Transmission Systems.

References.

3 VOICE COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS: KTS, PBX, CENTREX, AND ACD
3.1 Key Telephone Systems
3.2 Private Branch Exchanges
3.3 Centrex
3.4 Automatic Call Distributors
3.5 Computer Telephony
3.6 IP Systems
3.7 Futures.

References.

4 MESSAGING SYSTEMS
4.1 Facsimile (Fax) Systems
4.2 Voice Processing Systems
4.3 Electronic Mail (E-Mail)
4.4 Instant Messaging
4.5 Mobile Messaging: SMS and MMS
4.6 Unified Messaging and Unified Communications.

References.

5 PUBLIC SWITCHED TELEPHONE NETWORK
5.1 Network Characteristics
5.2 Numbering Plan Administration
5.3 Domains
5.4 Signaling and Control: Expanded View
5.5 Network Services
5.6 Portability: A Special Issue
5.7 Equal Access: Another Special Issue
5.8 VoIP: Next-Generation PSTN.

References.

6 FUNDAMENTALS OF DATA COMMUNICATIONS
6.1 Functional Domains
6.2 DCE: Expanded View
6.3 Protocol Basics
6.4 Network Architectures
6.5 Security.

References.

7 CONVENTIONAL DIGITAL AND DATA NETWORKS
7.1 Dataphone Digital Service
7.2 Switched 56
7.3 Virtual Private Networks: In the Classic Sense
7.4 Digital Carrier Systems and Networks
7.5 X.25 and Packet Switching
7.6 Integrated Services Digital Network.

References.

8 LOCAL AREA NETWORKS: CONNECTIVITY AND INTERNETWORKING
8.1 LANs Defined
8.2 LAN Dimensions
8.3 LAN Equipment
8.4 LAN Operating Systems
8.5 Virtual LANs
8.6 Remote LAN Access
8.7 LAN Standards and Standards Bodies
8.8 Life in the Fast LAN: The Need for Speed
8.9 Wireless LANs
8.10 Minding Your Ps and Qs
8.11 IEEE 1394 and FireWire
8.12 Nonstandard LANs
8.13 Broadband over Power Line
8.14 Storage Area Networks.

References.

9 BROADBAND NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE
9.1 Access Technologies
9.2 SONET/SDH
9.3 IEEE 802.17, Resilient Packet Ring.

References.

10 BROADBAND NETWORK SERVICES
10.1 Frame Relay
10.2 Switched Multimegabit Data Service
10.3 Asynchronous Transfer Mode
10.4 Metropolitan Ethernet
10.5 Broadband ISDN
10.6 Advanced Intelligent Networks (AINs).

References.

11 WIRELESS NETWORKING: EMPHASIS ON MOBILITY
11.1 Wireless Defined
11.2 Standards and Regulations
11.3 Advantages and Disadvantages of Wireless
11.4 Cell Concept: Frequency Reuse
11.5 Multiplexing and Access Techniques
11.6 Specialized Mobile Radio
11.7 Paging
11.8 Cordless Telephony and Wireless Office Telecommunications Systems
11.9 Cellular Radio
11.10 Packet Data Radio Networks
11.11 Satellite Systems: LEOs, MEOs, and GEOs
11.12 And That’s Not All.

References.

12 VIDEO AND MULTIMEDIA NETWORKING
12.1 Video Communications: Defined and Evolved
12.2 Video Basics
12.3 Analog TV Standards
12.4 Digital TV and High-Definition TV
12.5 Bandwidth and Compression
12.6 Video Standards
12.7 Internet Protocol TeleVision (IPTV)
12.8 The H.320 Family of Multimedia Standards
12.9 Session Initiation Protocol
12.10 H.248: Media Gateway Control
12.11 Videoconferencing Systems
12.12 Videoconferencing Equipment
12.13 WAN Videoconferencing Networks
12.14 Video over IP
12.15 Multimedia Conferencing.

Applications and Benefits.

References.

13 THE INTERNET AND WORLD WIDE WEB
13.1 The Internet Defined
13.2 Internet Physical Topology
13.3 Internet Access
13.4 Internet Standards, Administration, and Regulation
13.5 IP Addressing
13.6 Domain Name System
13.7 Internet Protocols
13.8 Internet Applications
13.10 Internet2
13.11 World Wide Web
13.12 Intranets and Extranets
13.13 Internet Security: A Special Issue
13.14 Misuse and Content
13.15 Internet Oddities, Screwball Applications, and Some Really Good Ideas
13.16 The Dark Side: An Editorial.

References.

14 NETWORK CONVERGENCE
14.1 Convergence Defined
14.2 Driving Forces
14.3 Conventional Convergence: Wireline Networks
14.4 The Race Is On: Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As)
14.5 One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potatoe, Four . . .
14.6 NexGen Convergence: Wireline and Wireless Networks.

References.

15 REGULATION: ISSUES AND (SOME) ANSWERS
15.1 Telecommunications Act of 1996
15.2 Rates and Tariffs
15.3 The Internet
15.4 Number Portability
15.5 Laws and Sausages.

References.

APPENDIX A ACRONYMS, ABBREVIATIONS, CONTRACTIONS, INITIALISMS, AND SYMBOLS.

APPENDIX B STANDARDS ORGANIZATIONS AND SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS (SIGs).

INDEX.

- - - - -

:-)



Now Available:

- Win a free pass to Robin Robins' Bootcamp

- Win a free pass to Autotask Community Live

- Win a free pass to Jeff Middleton's SBS Migration Conference

Compliments of SMB Books.

Free to enter.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Third SMB Community Podcast Posted

Woo Hoo!

This Third big SMB Community Podcast has beet posted!

This episode features coaching and advice. It features information from coaches George Sierchio and Stuart Selbst. It includes some great perspective on employees and their role in security from David Kelliher at GFI. And we finish off with an excerpt from Erick Simpson's Service Delivery book.

Download the latest and greatest from . . . www.greatlittlepodcast.com

- - -

Previous installments include the introductory show and a very fun look at the SMB VOIP conference.

Thank You to all the contributors.

If you have anything you wish to contribute, please call the phone numbers listed below, or connect to karlpalachuk on Skype. Just leave your message there.

You could also send me a sound file in .wav, .wmv, or mp3 format. Just remember that really big files should not be just sent by email as they'll never show up. So if you have a larger file, email first and we'll make arrangements.

SMB Community Podcast phone numbers:

In The U.S:
Call L.A. Phone number 213-814-2289

In The U.K:
Call London Phone number +44 20 8144 8788

In Australia:
Call Sydney Phone number +61 2 8003 6966

- - - - -


:-)



Now Shipping:
The Network Migration Workbook:
Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks

Monday's the Last Day for $600 Discount to Robin Robins' Bootcamp

In case you have't heard, Robin Robins' Amazing Technology Marketing Boot Camp will be held April 14 - 17 in Nashville, TN.

You can find out all the details at http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?af=1210182. But here's the important thing you need to know: The $600 Discount expires Monday.

I am sending my sales guy (we call him a Solution Specialist) to this bootcamp. I wish I could go but my travel schedule is crazy and this overlaps with a paid gig (sorry, priorities). Anyway, If you've heard the audio programs or seen the materials from the last RR Bootcamp you know it will be amazing.

So check it out quick - - - Before the price goes up!

http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?af=1210182


- - - - -


:-)



Now in Stock and Shipping . . .
The Best NOC and Service Desk Operations Book Ever!

by Erick Simpson

Ships from stock right now!

Friday, March 12, 2010

SMB Nation East - Prices go up Tuesday

Memo from HarryB at SMB Nation:

- - - - -

Hi folks - don't miss out on amazing "early bird" savings for the SMB Nation Spring 2010 conference! Did you know that your admission pass INCLUDES your hotel room accommodations - allowing you to stay overnight and engage in our coveted "Hallway 101" discussions with MVPs, experts, & gurus.

This is our fifth year for our east coast show and we've redoubled our efforts to bring you fantastic content - technical and business. For example, we have added important cloud computing content - learn how to create your successful SMB cloud computing consulting practice. We have a popular session on how to add Voice-over-IP (VoIP) to your existing data networking consulting practice. We round out the content with Windows 7 and other in-demand topics YOU WANT TO HEAR!

I look forward to meeting you April 30-May 2, 2010 at SMB Nation Spring!
Please call me directly at 1-888-SMB-NAT1 if you have any questions.

Register Here!


Join me for a "Why You Should Attend SMB Nation Spring 2010!" Webinar
Date: Monday March 15th, 2010
Time: 11AM PST
Register Here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/237147585

cheers....harrybbb
Harry Brelsford | CEO | SMB Nation, Inc. | www.smbnation.com

- - - - -

Bottom Line: Price goes up after Monday! Register today.


:-)



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

Autotask Community Live - Filling Fast - Join me in Miami

Got the following memo from my friend Mark Crall over at Autotask.

More than 300 Autotask Users have already signed up for the upcoming Autotask Community Live annual user group meeting in Miami.

And with about a month to go before the event, it is probably time for you to decide if you will be joining us. But I’ve been getting a lot of questions from Autotask customers who are still trying to decide whether or not to attend.

If you haven’t signed up, please take 20 minutes out of your day next week to join me for an on-line, “open mike town hall” meeting to talk about what’s going to happen at the event, what you can expect to take away from it and decide if attending is right for you.

Some of the questions we’ll cover are:
- What kind of training and sessions you’ll get
- Who in your company should attend
- Value for executive staff, techs and administrators
- Value for new users vs experienced users?
- Plus any specific questions that you may have.

This is your opportunity to ask and get answers to any questions you have about Autotask Community Live! and how it might be able to help you run your own IT business, better.

Register for our “Town Hall” Meeting Now

[kp: Not sure if this link will work, but give it a shot.] Otherwise, ping Mark:

Register

Best Regards,
Mark-
Mark Crall

Executive Director of Community Development
Markc@autotask.com

P.S. If you’re already planning to attend Autotask Community Live! but just haven’t registered yet, you should hurry. And when you register, be sure to sign up for the sessions you want. Seating is limited and classes are filling up.

And of course there's all kinds of juicy information at www.autotaskcommunitylive.com

:-)



Join Karl for a Zero Downtime Migration Seminar

New Orleans, March 17th

Miami, FL, April 17th

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gerber Awakens the Entrepreneur Within

I love Michael Gerber. More specifically, I love his book The E-Myth Revisited. I wish every small business owner in the world would read it. I mention it very frequently when I speak. After after years of doing so, I am amazed that every audience has a lot of people who haven't read this book.

Why is this book so important? That's easy: Standardized processes and procedures. That became the KPEnterprises mantra in 1995 and it's essentially what I provide in my books. One time at a conference a partner told me that consultants may not be able to come up with standardized processes but they can sure follow a checklist. "Keep giving us checklists!"

Gerber has written several books since The E-Myth Revisited. The E-Myth Manager, E-Myth Mastery, etc. They're all good, but pale in comparison to The E-Myth Revisited. So . . .

I was extremely pleased to pick up Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: How Ordinary People Can Create Extraordinary Companies. Immediately I found many nuggets of wisdom. Here are a few. Remember that the book goes into detail on why these things are true.

- "An entrepreneur is an inventor, although few inventors are entrepreneurs." Same is true with technicians. Every entrepreneur is a technician of some kind but few technicians are entrepreneurs.

- "An entrepreneur invents new businesses. All other inventors invent new products. To the entrepreneur, the business he or she invents is a product, a unique product that stands out in a world of ordinary business products and, through its uniqueness, captures the attention and imagination of the people for whom it was invented: its customer, its employees, its suppliers, and its lenders and investors."

- "While being an entrepreneurial business is not a guarantee of success, failing to be an entrepreneurial business is a guarantee of failure."

His analogy to show business is great:
- "To be caught up in a slow-or no-growth business is to be doomed to show up every day to perform in a show nobody enjoys."

- "What an entrepreneur creates has meaning, and that's why it creates money. It doesn't work the opposite way: Creating money does not give the created thing meaning."

- To create a meaningful business . . . "You must reach much, much deeper than simply creating more choices, or lower prices, or faster delivery. No, in the age of the entrepreneur, in this age of the impersonal dreamer, you must kick ass in ways no one every thought possible."

Is your business kicking ass or just surviving?

Is there passion in your business, or do you show up every day to put on a show no one wants to see, with employees who don't care about the show any more than the clients you're not bringing in the door? You know, as strange as it sounds, a recession is a great time to push the reset button and change your business so you have passion for what you do.

Go do what brings passion into your business. Kick ass.

Anyway, I'm only half done with the book but I'm loving it. We'll probably sell it at SMB Books. Not there yet, so go get it at Amazon.

It's less than $11. Just go buy it.


:-)



Now Available:

- Win a free pass to Robin Robins' Bootcamp

- Win a free pass to Autotask Community Live

- Win a free pass to Jeff Middleton's SBS Migration Conference

Compliments of SMB Books.

Free to enter.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Few Lessons About VOIP in Small Business

Sorry for the delay (busy). Here are my notes from the content side of the SMB VOIP conference.

I attended the first-ever SMB VOIP show in Vegas. It was pretty funny for me to be presenting there. The SMB show was "inside" the larger Channel Partners show. Two years ago some folks from Channel Partners called me because I had proposed a paper for their conference. They were intrigued about managed services in the phone space. But once they got me on the phone they didn't really understand what it was all about. They never called back.

Now, as VOIP makes it much easier for infrastructure folks to get into the phone business, they are eager to bring in the SMB folks and find out what's going on. Several people from the larger show attended the SMB sessions and came away scared about our potential to make inroads into their territory. For years these folks have realized that voice and data are merging more and more, and they've always assumed that they would simply take over the data part of the equation.

But managing computer systems is a lot harder to learn than modern VOIP. So it turns out that we're more likely than they are to be taking over territory, or at least forcing alliances.

As a side note, we managed to do a live podcast from the show with some folks who have great insight into the hosting options for VOIP. That is posted up at Cloud Services Roundtable for members.

Here are some of the things that really stood out from the event. If you're new to voice/telephony, consider these as you develop your offerings.


Don't Sell VOIP - Sell Telephone Systems

No one needs VOIP; everyone needs telephones. In addition, plenty of people have plenty of sob stories about early implementations. Don't feed on that negativity. Just focus on the fact that everyone needs a phone system. Along with that, focus on providing a quality system that is very reliable and gives the client a positive experience.

One of the biggest weaknesses in the SMB space is the assumption that clients don't want to spend more, or are unwilling to spend money. At the same time we all have clients who spend lots of money and want quality. Take a look at what your clients have been spending on phone systems. When you move to VOIP they are almost guaranteed to save money. If they move to hosted VOIP it's even easier.

So use some of that savings to guarantee a good experience. Here's how.


Upgrade Hardware

Newer routers, firewalls, and even switches have newer chip sets and will dramatically increase telephone traffic speeds. So as part of the phone system setup, you need to quote some new equipment:

- Router (Maybe. If it's over three years old, then for sure.)

- Firewall (Definitely. Just do it. And a good piece of equipment, not a new $40 home box.)

- Switches - Power Over Ethernet - Replace anything more than two years old to be safe. More on POE in a minute.

- QOS devices - That's Quality of Service. In addition to the firewall, a QOS device will help you with traffic shaping and make sure VOIP has priority over You Tube. $400 to $1,000 for a small office.

Yes, there's some money here. But the improvement in reliability and performance will be dramatic. Ask you client whether they want a half-baked solution or good, solid, reliable phone service. Also consider the savings discussed below.


Build Redundancy

Just like a server/network system, reliability happens on purpose and not by chance. Here are some tips for Uptime.

- Use POE. This is new-ish technology for most small businesses at this time, but it is also "old" and reliable. Modern POE switches are totally automatic at sensing POE devices. You can potentially save thousands on wiring if you use the same port for phone and desktop PC. Each phone goes to a POE port, powering phone and supplying internet. Desktop plugs into phone mini-switch. Almost all IP phones have these features (POE and 2-port switch).

Check the ratings! Make sure your switch can handle all the phones you have and move the power for all those lines!

- Big UPS on the Switch. Once all the phones are getting power from the POE Switch, that switch needs enough juice to cool itself, move traffic like a switch, and pump power down the line to as many phones as you have connected. When the lights go out, you'll need good UPSs on the firewall and switch so that clients have dial tone when the power is out . . . just like an old school phone system.

- Redundant internet connections. Just make it part of the quote. Even if the failover is to a Sprint Wireless card on the firewall, you should have something. Again, ask the client if they want to be without phones when the power is out. There's a cost to everything.


Consider a Hosted Solution

For true uptime even if the building is on fire, consider a hosting VOIP solution. First, these solutions have amazing feature sets. At one of my companies, extension 303 rings into my home office. Linksys SPA942 sits just as if it were on my desk at work. That means a ring group can include me as easily as two people sitting next to each other.

When the internet is out at work, our hosted phone system still runs the ring groups, forwards to cell phones, and has all the features it has every other day of the week. Just like a virtual server doesn't know it's not a real machine, a hosted phone system doesn't know my office is under water. So it keeps working.


Focus on Savings and Money

One of the hottest selling techniques in the phone business is the Telephone Audit. Virtually everyone with more than three phone lines can save money. Companies with large offices always have a forgotten line, a number with zero minutes used per month, or too many phone lines.

Think about the average office with ten hard wire phone lines. If you were to drop a ten year old phone system in there you might recommend 5-6 phone lines and let the digital switch serve up dial tone as needed. Guaranteed savings. But with VOIP you can save even more than that. Now take the cost of all the add-on fees that the old phone company throws in just because they can and the savings really pile up.

Ask your clients/prospects for a copy of their phone bills. Go back maybe three months. You'll need to learn how to read these things. But you'll discover a world of confusion and over-charging that you never knew existed before. It is an exercise that is almost guaranteed to result in savings for the client.

This is the most used and tested sales method for phone system sellers of all sizes.

Look at all the money being thrown away and you'll see that there's a huge savings to be had. And don't forget to ask about the cost of their in-house hardware and existing phone system. Thousands of dollars. Add that to the mix. Create an overall cost estimate for five years of equipment and service. You'll find a huge amount of savings.

And that's where you'll find the money for new switches and firewalls.

Remember: Right-size your solution for your client. If they've been in business for more than a week, they already have a phone system. It has a known cost, a known reliability level, and a know customer service level. You are literally going to improve ALL of those things while saving the client money. So don't foolishly set up a new phone system with an old, slow firewall and the wrong infrastructure. You don't want to take the client from 99.9% reliability to 95%. That will kill them and might lose you a customer.

Spend enough to do it right and the VOIP system you install will be a great performer for any client - no matter how small.

- - - - -

Great conference, Harry! I wish there was another one in six months. This is a very fast moving world and we, the SMB Consultants, are poised to take over the world.

Mu-ha-ha.

Full discussions of these topics and the conference are taking place right now at www.telephonation.com.

:-)



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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Microsoft Financing is Baaaaaaack!

From my MS Partner Territory Manager Suzanne Lavine:
- - - - -

March 9th Update!


 Check out the new webcasts on http://www.microsoftpartnernetwork.com/ site. I just watched 5 min webcast with Allison Watson about online services; short and to the point.

 NEW! Microsoft Financing now has dedicated sales resources in place to support the partner channel.

Microsoft Financing is currently operating under an interim program with DLL (De Lage Landen). Expect to see further announcements in the upcoming weeks on the launch of the new Microsoft Financing US SMS&P program. However, recent improvements have made it easier to leverage Microsoft Financing, including:

 10% minimum MS content requirement on all transactions – no longer a minimum 35% MS content requirement!

 Competitive rates – currently 8.8% on $100k @ 3 years and 10.3% on $50k @ 3 years (valid until March 31, 2010)

 MS Dynamics Enhancement can be financed alone on a 1-year or 3-year loan term

 Total Solution Financing – Microsoft software, hardware, partner services, 3rd party software and sales tax bundled into one convenient monthly payment

Partner Contacts:

Already a registered Microsoft Financing partner? Calculate payment amounts, submit credit apps, track deals, check rates and access sales training or marketing collateral at http://www.microsoftfinancing.com/.

For assistance with quotes, pricing, credit and customer applications, contact:

Microsoft Financing Sales Support @ De Lage Landen
866-355-5767 (request Microsoft Financing Sales Support)
800-776-4665 (fax)
techfinancemailbox@leasedirect.com

New to Microsoft Financing? For assistance with becoming a certified Microsoft Financing partner, register online at www.MicrosoftFinancing.com or contact:

Amy Horsman, US Channel Manager for SMB & Dynamics
425-421-3371 (direct)
msfsmb@microsoft.com

- - - - -

Thanks, SuzL.

I'll let you know if the new program works as well with Hardware as a Service as the old program did.

I'm excited to see this option return. We can do 10%.

And thanks to whoever at Microsoft for listening to the channel.

Migrating from SBS to The Cloud - Part One

I'm doing a special seminar series with the folks at MSPU called

Migrating From SBS to The Cloud

Register for Today's Webinar: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/pjoin/624170994/105948662

There will be three installments, about a month apart. The first one is today at 1:00 PM Pacific / 4:00 PM Eastern.

The basic agenda looks like this:

Part 1 = The View from 20,000 Feet

Part 2 = Options, Hardware, Software, and Service Considerations

Part 3 = Building a New Business Model

Today's installment, the basic introduction, is intended to be a good overview of how you move functions from in-house to the cloud. If you've read The Network Migration Workbook then the basic flow will make sense. We're going to migrate one thing at a time.

I identify 18 core functions of the basic small business and talk about how you can choose to move these to one (or more) of three cloud options. I've talked before about the cloud options before:

- Internet cloud services (reselling someone else's hosted services)

- Partner-hosted cloud services (inside your data center/colo)

- On-premise cloud services (e.g., Zenith's Smart Style or something you designed yourself)

Of course there will always be some functions that are best place in-house and will never move to the cloud. The beautiful part about that realization is that you'll commit early on to living in both worlds. That will serve you well.

In many ways SBS 2003 / SBS 2008 is perfectly suited to be part of a partially-cloud-based environment.

Tune in and find out more.

Register for Today's Webinar: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/pjoin/624170994/105948662

:-)



Now Shipping:
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Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks

Monday, March 08, 2010

MSPU Boot Camp in Dallas - And Preday Event with Comptia

MSPU is holding a monster IT Solutions and Managed Services Sales & Marketing and Service Delivery Boot Camp in Dallas, TX on March 17th-19th.

And in addition, they're having a CompTIA Pre-Day Security Workshop next Tuesday, March 16th.

Register today and qualify to win an MSP University 10 Day Website ABSOLUTELY FREE (a $6,000 value)!

More info and stuff at . . . http://blog.mspu.us/2010/03/join-us-for-comptias-preday-security-workshop-at-our-dallas-boot-camp.html

:-)



Join Karl for a Zero Downtime Migration Seminar

New Orleans, March 17th

Miami, FL, April 17th

Sunday, March 07, 2010

First SMB Community Podcast Posted

Woo Hoo!

Well The First SMB Community Podcast has beet posted!

We had a rough start, but the train is finally moving.

As soon as we announced the SMB Community Podcast, we had a phone snafu. Got that fixed. Then I had to travel and finally got some shows put together this weekend.

And Now . . . Ladies and Gentleman: The First Ever SMB Community Podcast. Starring . . . YOU.

You can Download the first show directly from here - About 14 MB

If you want to download multiple show, or find out how you can contribute, check out the SMB Community Podcast web site.

The SMB Community Podcast is an experiment in letting everyone who wants to contribute to the discussion of topics in the SMB Space.

This is a podcast created from the collective minds of the SMB Community. I'm hoping it will be educational, inspirational, funny, and a real community-building tool. For more information.

The first show includes:

Intro by Karl Palachuk
Shout-Outs
Endorsement by a fan
Coaches corner
and an Introduction to What We're All About

The second show is in production and will include information and snippets from the SMB VOIP Conference that just finished.

To contribute to future podcasts, please check out www.greatlittlepodcast.com. All you have to do is dial in . . . and we'll put you on the air.

Links:

Three Podcasts in One!

We're going to have three categories of SMB Community Podcasts:

1. Crowdcast with snippets of all kinds from anyone who contributes. This includes shout-outs, jokes, quick advice, best practices, and whatever YOU decide to contribute.

2. Reports from conferences, user groups, vendor events, etc. Anytime you go someplace, please take a few minutes and file an audio report with us. It's free and you get to be a "cub reporter" for all us those who don't attend the event.

3. Educational and Motivational programs. Book excerpts, educational marketing from vendors, etc. When we get good educational and motivational materials, we'll slip it into these podcasts.

We're also VERY open to your input. If you think there's something else that our community needs, please ping KarlP@greatlittlebook.com. The goals here are participation and fun. So we're happy to try new things.

Please check it out - and leave your feedback on the call-in phone lines!

:-)