Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trust In Business - Part I

Did you ever stop to think about how much we rely on trust in business? It's so ingrained into our decision making that we take it for granted. You've heard it a thousand times: We do business with people we know, like, and trust. Take trust out of that equation and you really change the result. After all, we can get to know just about anybody - especially if they're likeable.

There are four stages in a trust relationship: Meet, Vet, Establish, and Maintain.

We meet lots of people. Those of us who attend marketing groups, tip exchange groups, chamber meetings, and service organizations might meet a hundred new people in a month. And maybe a thousand people we've met before. We obviously do business with very few of them. Once we think that we might do business with someone, a vetting process has to take place.

Some vetting is automatic - even unconscious. If we don't like the way someone talks, looks, stands, or presents their business then they are out of the running without any real consideration. Once we decide to consider someone, a more formal vetting process begins. It might be simple or complex. It could be as simple as their working habits: Did they email a response within an hour of your request? Or it might be very formal with multiple interviews.

In very small business, it is common that clients choose vendors without a formal selection process. In other words, there's no real competition. A company is considered and hired (or not hired). As a result, most of the vetting takes place in a single meeting. When the selection process is more formal, the vetting takes place across several meetings with different people.

Once vetted, we have to establish the relationship. Vetting sets up the relationship. In the "establishment" stage we have proof that the decision was correct and that the partner is delivering goods and services as expected. You might consider this the final piece of the vetting process, but it really is separate.

In the establishment stage, the client relaxes and feels good that the decision was correct. this is a critical element in the relationship. At this point the long-term relationship begins.

One of the most important policies you can have is a "first job" policy that governs how you manage your first job for a client. The first job proves the client was right in choosing you, demonstrates your competence in an important task, and allows you to show off the skills and processes that will make you a good business partner. (For an example of this, see the blog post The First Client Visit.)

The final stage is maintenance. As you move into the execution of your partnership, you have to do more than perform excellent work. You also need to pay attention to maintaining the relationship. You can do an excellent job - technically - and still lose the trust of the client. This is because the trust component has to do with the personal relationship and not the technical execution.

Trust elevates your relationship from "outsider" to "insider" status. If you want to be part of the team - to be the outsourced CIO - then you need to establish and maintain trust. That means you need to constantly work on the personal side of the relationship.


Trust and Integrity

Note that trust, in this context, is not a moral evaluation. This is not an evaluation of whether you are "trustworthy" on the moral side. This trust has to do with Integrity: Do you follow through and perform as advertised?

Integrity means to be whole and complete. When you act with integrity, all the parts work together. In this sense, a client can trust you because the whole package works together. If you say that you'll take care of something, you do. If you say you will remove their burden, you do.

You lack integrity when the trusting piece doesn't fit with the action piece.


Lock in the Relationship

Every successful business owner is locked into a series of relationships that have a powerful effect on the business. Once we decide to grow the business beyond what one person can do, we must rely on the talents and integrity of others. Here's what that means in terms of trust:

Once a business owner picks a team of people to trust, he's locked in and needs to rely on his team for his success. The payoff of the vetting process is a team you can rely on. The danger is that you've chosen the wrong team. That's why all members of the team need to keep working on the trust component. The maintenance stage can last for decades . . . if you put effort into maintaining the relationship.

Some business owners get stuck at the point where they need to rely on a team for their success. You've seen the most common sign of this: The inability to delegate. This one simple element is probably the biggest roadblock to success for small business owners. Inability to delegate boils down to lack of trust. You either don't trust the people personally, you don't trust their technical ability, or you don't trust their commitment to your success.

In my personal experience, I failed to grow my business beyond a certain point for about five years because I didn't trust that anyone could do it as well as me. Part of this had to do with technical ability and part of it had to do with client relationships. Eventually I decided that I was looking at the problem wrong. I divided my fears and conquered them.

On the technical side I realized that I could hire someone to do some of the work and not all of the work. I didn't need every technician to be a superstar. I could find good techs and grow them into great techs. On the client relationship side I decided that I can't turn over that job very easily or very quickly. So I kept the client relationship job and handed off technical work.

Eventually, I was able to find just the right people who could be trusted to tend to the client relationships. Only then did I turn over that piece of the business.

Trust is difficult to transfer. It may actually be impossible to transfer. You can help someone grow trust and build trust with a client. But the client will always judge that person based on their ability to follow through and fulfill the promises made.

Next time we'll talk more about trust maintenance and transferring trust.

Comments Welcome.

:-)

Register Today!
SMB Preday 2014

Karl's 10th Annual SMB Preday Show

Killer Combo: SOPs And Project Management

A 4-Hour Hands-On Event! 

September 25, 2014
1-5 PM
Redmond, WA

All-New Workshop 

This year’s pre-day event will be a four-hour Jam-Packed event.

Featuring


  • Jenifer Novak Landers - Conceptual Selling: How to Sell Something Your Clients Can't See
  • Karl W. Palachuk - Build Your Revenue with Standard Operating Procedures
  • Karl W. Palachuk - Design and Execute Perfect, Profitable Projects

Super Early Bird Registration: First Two attendees only $99 !!!

Plus all content will be provided to registrants whether you actually attend or not. Includes audio recording, slides, handouts, and workbook.

Find out more at www.smbpreday.com


Monday, July 14, 2014

Is This Really a Mobile-First Cloud-First World?

Last week ended with a big, long memo from Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, filling the news gap of Summer immediately before Microsoft's big WorldWide Partner Conference. The conference kicks off today.

I wish I was there, but Microsoft's WPC doesn't really offer much for small business partners. No matter what else is said or done, the company focuses on its two primary sources of revenue: Games/Home Entertainment and enterprise-level software deployment. It's a great series of parties. But actual, useful, business-related discussions that will help SMB consultants make more money? Not on the agenda.

If you really want to read the 3,100+ email from Mr. Nadella, go to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/ceo/index.html - but that's obviously not a permalink, so go there fast.

What you'll find is a marketing document with approximately zero personal message and lots of platitudes. The most visible messages are:

1) "At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more."

and

2) Xbox is going to stay around. It makes a lot of money.

Several pundits have made a point of saying that Steve Ballmer's era of "devices and services" is officially coming to an end with the new emphasis on "productivity and platform." I think this is 100% shift in marketing and is not a slap at Ballmer in any way. It's just a new campaign for a new year.

The other news item mentioned by all the pundits is that the Nokia acquisition is now complete and the new Microsoft has 127,000 employees. That's too many people and everyone's waiting to see where jobs will be cut. This speculation is probably FAR more interesting to Microsoft employees than anyone else.

Nadella did promise that he would say more about the company's core focus when Microsoft reports fourth quarter earnings on July 22.


Mobile-First Cloud-First World?


Let's get back to the new marketing mantra. Mobile-First Cloud-First World.

From the first time I heard that, it just sounded wrong. Do you live in a mobile-first world? Do your clients? Does Microsoft (or Apple or Google)?

I don't think so.

Mobile is really important. REALLY important. Same with Cloud. Really important.

But look at where you make money. Look at your clients. Look at the number of devices you support and where they spend the most money for hardware, software, and support. It's on desktops, servers, and network equipment. I don't care whether a client has five employees or five hundred, they are more likely to spend more money on printers in a year than on phones.

Tablets are coming on strong. But for specialty applications. They will never replace the vast majority of cubicle-dwelling, desktop computer-using workers. They will create new jobs and make new services possible. But the average client with 30 employees is still going to buy 30 desktop computers. Plus tablets. Plus some laptops.

Remember: Outside of the partners/owners, most employees don't get a work cell phone. Or a tablet. So the corporate world is going to continue to be PC-based.

If you download the Excel spreadsheet with Microsoft's most recent numbers on segment revenue ( at http://www.microsoft.com/Investor/EarningsAndFinancials/Earnings/SegmentResults/S1/fy14/q3/Performance.aspx), you'll see that Commercial Licensing represents 49% of all revenue for the nine months ending March 2014. Add commercial "other" into the mix and you've got 57% of all revenue. I assume the last three months will look about the same.

That 57% of revenue also represents 67% of all profit.

Obviously Microsoft enjoys growth in the "mobile" and "cloud" revenue as they push people to Office 365.

But when I look at the big picture, I still don't see an actual direction form Mr. Nadella or Microsoft. Mobile First doesn't really ring true. Cloud first isn't true for most people. I recognize them. They're market forces. But I also know where the money is.

So I wish my friends at Microsoft the best of luck in the coming job cuts. And I will advise my coaching clients to keep mobile and cloud in the mix. But I'll keep my business going with open licensing and hardware sales.

Because most technology is not mobile and most technology is not cloud.

:-)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Zynstra Announces $8.4 Million Series B Funding

I got a nice little press release from my friends at Zynstra this morning.

They've got a big new round of funding "to support continued growth, innovation and entry into North America."

So in case you're wondering whether they're planning to stick around, this should be a very good sign.

Here's the release:
- - - - -

BATH, United Kingdom - 9th July 2014 - Zynstra, the pioneer in cloud managed server appliances for small and medium sized businesses (SMB's), today announces the completion of an $8.4 million Series B funding round. This brings the total amount raised in its first year since public launch to just over $12.5 million. The financing was led by Octopus Investments, with additional investors including: Richard Brennan, former EVP Global Marketing at Orange Group, Tom Vari, former CIO of Cable at Rogers Communications Inc. and Jon Craton, Zynstra's Chairman and former founder and CEO of Cramer.

The company will use the funds to continue to develop a growing UK channel presence, further invest in product innovation, and support entry into the North American market.

Zynstra launched its hybrid cloud solution in July 2013 and earlier this year won 'most innovative product for SMB' at the 2014 UK Cloud Awards. Its product suite redresses the balance between SMBs and larger enterprise IT. The company has already announced three products this year to supplement its hybrid cloud portfolio; O365 Connect, Education and SMB IT appliances, all designed to deliver the perfect blend of on-premise and cloud IT services, and with the economics typically associated with the public cloud.

"When we started developing our initial offering three years ago, we knew we had a great solution. Since then the market has moved relentlessly in our direction, embracing a hybrid approach to IT," said Zynstra co-founder and CEO Nick East. "Our first year since publically launching has seen strong growth in our customer base, and in the number of significant partnerships signed.  

"Businesses are reconsidering the way they purchase technology - seeking a significantly lower administrative burden, greater flexibility and a predictable opex payment model.  At the same time, we are facing one of the largest server infrastructure refreshes of recent times when the Windows Server 2003 platform reaches the end of support in July 2015.  It's a compelling time to consider refreshing an IT estate, and a hybrid approach is becoming the new norm. We anticipate even faster growth over the next 12 months as a result."

MADE.com, the bespoke and designer furniture company, became a Zynstra customer earlier this year. "We're growing fast, both in the UK and overseas, so we needed an office IT solution that is easy and supports our expansion plans," said Jonathan Howell, CTO at made.com. "Zynstra has helped us to achieve consistency internally and free up our time to work on other more strategic projects."

Commenting on the investment, Frederic Lardieg, a member of the Ventures team at Octopus Investments, said: "From the outset it was clear that the experienced team at Zynstra had a really exciting product. What we've seen proves that this really is the right time for this technology in the SMB market. The UK has seen fantastic development and we're confident that the team will bring the same success to North America when they launch in that market. We're delighted to offer our continued investment and support to Zynstra."

ENDS


About Zynstra
Zynstra is a provider of hybrid cloud solutions that enable SMEs to benefit from the security and performance of local IT combined with the economics and ease of the cloud. Headquartered in Bath, UK, Zynstra has developed patent-pending technology that gives SMEs hassle-free, enterprise-level IT with built-in reliability they can afford.

http://www.zynstra.com


About Octopus Investments
Octopus is a venture capital investor who backs talented people with the potential to build big businesses. Our focus is on identifying entrepreneurs and fast growth companies that can scale explosively to create, transform or dominate an industry. The Ventures team has a proven track record of helping build exceptional global businesses, including Zoopla Property Group, Secret Escapes, SwiftKey, graze.com and YPlan.

The Ventures team is part of Octopus Investments, one of the UK's fastest growing investment management companies specialising in smaller company investing, with more than £3.5 billion of assets under management.

http://www.octopusinvestments.com

Media contacts:

Sinead O'Connor
Atomic PR for Zynstra
+44 (0)20 7478 7801
zynstra@atomicpr.com

Cordelia Meacher
FieldHouse Associates for Octopus
+44 (0) 7961 311080
octopus@fieldhouseassociates.com

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Beerfest at WPC! - July 13th

Info from Harry B's Big Beerfest in Washington, DC - right before SMB Nation:

(I won't be there, so I'll need a designated drinker.)

Beerfest at WPC!

SMB Nation’s proud tradition of hosting a beerfest reception continues at the upcoming Microsoft Worldwide Partner (WPC) conference in Washington DC. The reception, sponsored by Zynstra and eFolder, is Sunday, July 13th from 7:30pm – 9:30pm.

Why attend?

Simply stated – it’s to drive community in a casual environment. SMB IT Pros from all walks of life can share and collaborate. It’s been a very popular format.

Who should attend?

Anyone with an interest in SMB technology and solutions. You CAN ATTEND even if you are not attending the full WPC conference. This is your chance to “touch” WPC from the outside and gather with your friends.

More information: https://clicktoattend.microsoft.com/en-us/Pages/EventDetails.aspx?EventID=193051

Call SMB Nation at 206-201-2943 with any questions.
:-)

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Tigerpaw Software Announces New Hire Corey DeJong as Director of Marketing

Got a press release today from my friend James over at TigerPaw.

Welcome to the community, Corey DeJong!

- - - - -

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Tigerpaw Software Announces New Hire Corey DeJong as Director of Marketing


BELLEVUE, Neb., (June 30, 2014) - Tigerpaw Software Inc., announced today the new hire of Corey DeJong as Director of Marketing, effective immediately.

DeJong comes to Tigerpaw from AIM, where he served as Director of Sales & Service and also as Director of Marketing. He brings more than 12 years of experience in strategic marketing, sales, partnerships, operations, and product development. Prior to AIM he served as a marketing consultant for many local and national clients.

In his role at Tigerpaw, DeJong will bring extensive marketing automation, lead generation/qualification, lead nurturing, and strategic leadership to Tigerpaw's product and sales teams to help define product packages and promotions that are relevant to Tigerpaw's extensive industry clients. "Corey brings energy, experience, and unique perspective to our business, and we are thrilled to have him join the team," says CEO James Foxall. "Corey is a talented marketing professional with the ability to understand our technology, strategy, analytics, and the needs of today's business development teams. As Director of Marketing, Corey will work to ensure Tigerpaw's offerings address the very real and important needs of our clients and future clients."

"As a user of products like Tigerpaw, I am excited to work with the team, the technology, and the vision, that will continue to move Tigerpaw forward and upward," said DeJong. "I've seen a lot of companies - vendors, startups, partners - over the course of my years in marketing life, and Tigerpaw is one of a kind. Tigerpaw brings great value to its customers and partners and it's just continuing to get better at an increased pace."

DeJong will office in Tigerpaw's headquarters in Bellevue, Nebraska.


About Tigerpaw Software, Inc. 

For almost 30 years, Tigerpaw has designed industry leading, CRM and service management to help people manage technology businesses more efficiently. Tigerpaw software is a comprehensive tool for helping IT, telephony, security, Audio/Video, and POS businesses increase growth and make informed business decisions. More than 35,000 smart technology providers have substantially grown their businesses with Tigerpaw. The award-winning solution enables businesses to manage, automate and integrate business functions including service, accounting, CRM, inventory, sales, marketing, purchasing, and workflow within one easy-to-use system.

For more information about Tigerpaw Business Suite 13 or Tigerpaw Mobile 2.0, contact Tigerpaw at 800.704.9009; by email at info@tigerpawsoftware.com; or visit http://www.tigerpawsoftware.com/products/Tigerpaw_Software_Product_Overview.aspx.


Media Contact:
Corey DeJong
402.592.4544 / 800.704.9009
cdejong@tigerpawsoftware.com

- - - - -


:-)
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by Dana J Goulston, PMP  and Karl W. Palachuk

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They also face the same primary challenge – staying inside the scope of the project! 

This great little book provides a simple process project planning and management process that is easy to learn and easy to teach to your employees, fellow technicians, and sub-contractors. You’ll learn to track any project, explain all the stages to clients and employees, and verify that everything is completed on time and under budget. 

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