Friday, January 29, 2016

The Right Pay Dates have a Huge Effect on Cash Flow

In the relationship between employer and employee, one day stands out among all others: Pay Day!

Ideally, we all love what we do and we'd do even if they didn't pay us. But in the real world, we all have cars and kids and rent to pay. So pay day matters.

In my latest SOP video, I address the topic of choosing pay dates. As there are two sides to the relationship, there are two major considerations:

1) When are good times for employees to receive money?

2) Which days are best for the employer's cash flow?

Cash flow is always a major consideration. If you get pay dates wrong, you might have to delay paying employees because you just don't have the money. Worse - you might delay paying the taxes on pay day. That's the road to a fight with the federal government you can't win.

So, which are the best days to pay? And how often should you pay? Weekly might be good for cash flow, but payroll processing costs money. Whether you do it in-house or pay a service, weekly is the most expensive because you're almost always running payroll!

Note: This video is packed with info. Watch it twice and post your questions.


Don't forget to share with friends and subscribe to the channel!

:-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Y$10K - Saving Money - Strategically

In the last installment of the Y$10K series, we talked a bit about investing. That's cool. But you need money to invest. Where does that come from?

This week we'll talk a bit about finding money you already have. In future blog posts I'll look at finding new money.

What does it mean to "find" money you already have? For the most part, it means saving and budgeting. These are two different skills that you can develop. And you can see results immediately.

I love the book, The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. I wish someone would produce an updated version with current statistics. The content is still 100% awesome, but the time-bound stats are a little old. Anyway, go get that book and read it.

Yesterday I posted about how I manage to run a couple of successful businesses and travel all the time. One key piece of that is straight out of The Millionaire Next Door: I drive a used car. I have purchased three cars in the last twenty years: 1997, 2006, and 2014. Obviously, I place a higher value on something other than driving a new car. As a result, I have spent much of the last twenty years with no car payment.

Everyone is different. You might want the security of always having a car payment because that really represents having a car that's extremely reliable and has lower ongoing maintenance costs. Everyone has to choose their level of comfort.

But imagine keeping your car for ten years instead of two or three or five. Just for argument's sake, let's say you bought a nice little $25,000 car today and took out a five year loan. At 3% interest, you'll pay about $450 per month for 60 months. Now imagine NOT paying $450 per month for the 60 months after that. Today's cars should easily continue to be reliable for that long (especially Hondas, Hyundais, and that class of cars).

$450 per month times 60 months is $27,000. If you don't spend it, that's $27,000 you can put straight into investments.

Do that three times (a total of 30 years) and you have $81,000 PLUS interest, dividends, and growth. It's not a stretch to round that up to $100,000. It would probably be closer to $150,000.

There's a human tendency to spend money up to the limits of our income. You have to break out of that pattern. It takes willpower and a sincere belief that the payoff in the future is worthwhile.

When my daughter was younger I always used to tell her, "Every dollar I spend today is three dollars I won't have in retirement." And it's absolutely true. And as you get old, that ratio changes dramatically. Today I would have to say it's two dollars I won't have in retirement. In another five years it will be $1.50 and then $1.25.


Long Term and Short Term Savings

You can think of savings as being either long-term or short-term. Committing to driving a used car is a long-term commitment. You might even drive the same car for fifteen or twenty years. At some point maintenance will increase. But it will never add up to $9,000 per year.

Short-term savings are even larger in the long run! Nowadays $100 doesn't go as far as it used to. Dinner at a not-so-fancy restaurant can easily add up to $50 for two people. And at some places the same meal might be $100 for two people. That difference ($50) once a week adds up to $2,600 per year.

Now take a look at $25 shirts instead of $50 shirts. And $60 shoes instead of $120 shoes.

It adds up everywhere. So far, NOTHING I've mentioned will change your lifestyle. None of it will make you look poor or "unsuccessful" in others' eyes.

I guarantee you can save $100 this week by simply buying the same things at different stores (restaurants, etc.). Do that for a week. Take the extra $100 or $200 or whatever and stick it in the brokerage account.


Strategic Savings

You also have to be strategic about savings. When we sell a printer to a client, we give them estimated costs per month and estimated costs per copy. Toner prices can vary dramatically. Some clients will take a slightly slower printer because the cost per copy is lower. Others need speed.

We all know clients and prospects who are tempted to always spend less money. Very often we know they are going to pay more in the long run. But we can't convince them of that.

I like to tell people, Make sure you're pinching the right pennies!

You need to do this in your business and your personal life as well. Be strategic. Save money where it will truly make a difference in the long run. Spend money today if it means lower costs overall. That means you have to take the time to make these calculations.

Eventually, you will build for yourself an overall lower cost of operating and a lower cost of living. Now don't spend it!!! Set your expenses and don't let them rise to take up all the money that's available. Sock that money away.

Do it. Right now. Go find an extra $100 or $200 or whatever and stick it in the brokerage account. I'm not kidding.

If you tell me you can't, you are almost certainly fooling yourself.

But you're not fooling me.

- - - - -

Last time, I asked you to set up an Automatic Investment Transfer to your investment account. If you haven't done that, do it now. No one will do this for you. Once that's set up, you need to make sure the money's there. This week, make sure that money's always there. Begin building that habit.

Everyone reading this can do something. $5, $10, $100. Something.

Every dollar counts.

Save something.

Move somethig into the investment account.

If the money's in your pocket, you'll spend it. Get it over to the investment portfolio ASAP!

- - - - -

Good luck!

Let me know how you're doing!

:-)

Monday, January 25, 2016

How Do I Run a Successful Technology Business and Fly All Over the Place on Speaking Engagements?

Over on Facebook I've exchanged some comments with folks about coaching in the IT business. The topic started out with the topic of why people are bashing coaches and coaching wholesale. In my opinion, every business owner on earth can gain tremendous value from coaching. Of course you also have to follow through, participate in your own (business) health, and make changes.

Steve asked the question:
"General question. If you have a successful technology business, and have SLA agreements, and day to day challenges, vendor management, etc. - how can you also fly all over the place for weeks at a time on speaking engagements? Not taking a shot; I'm genuinely curious. I'm cultivating my local market every single spare second I'm not working on direct items. I rarely can get away for a weekend, let alone a week, let alone halfway across the country. I don't see how one could do both of those things and be good at both of those things."


Let me give you a few answers to this question.

First, I started out building a Managed Service business in 1995. I grew it to just over $900,000 in annual revenue. In the meantime, I wrote books and built another business to provide books, audio programs, and trainings. I built multiple streams of revenue. I also put money in the stock market, into rental property, and into other investments.

Truth One About Growing Wealth: You will never grow wealth from your "earned" income. You can only grow wealth from your investments. If your business is really a job, and you put all of your money back into your job, then you will never grow wealth. You have to take money (profit) out of your business and put it into other investments where it can grow.

Second, I firmly believe that every entrepreneur should have more than one business. Yes it's twice as hard. And yes you have to be strategic. BUT you can share employees across your businesses. You can move people to where the money is. You can move work to where the people are. You can ramp up and down and sideways with massive flexibility.

Eventually, I sold that MSP business and worked with them for a few years. But when the new owner sold the business again, I started a new Managed Service business. My current Managed Service business is small, but very profitable. It is built on a series of absolutes that 99% of all MSPs do not do consistently.

My Absolutes for an Absolutely Profitable MSP:


1) 99% of everything is paid in advance

2) 95% of all equipment is less than 48 months old. 75% is less than 36 months old. Why? New stuff doesn't break.

3) 100% of all users at all client are NOT logged on with local or domain admin privileges

4) 100% of all machines have a commercial RMM agent installed, are monitored 24x7, and are updated at least weekly

5) 100% of all machines have a commercial anti-virus program installed, which is updated daily

6) 100% of all email is filtered before it comes on premise (to an Exchange server or local Outlook)

7) 100% of our clients have a commercial grade firewall that is patched and up to date

8) 100% of all equipment under Managed Services is under warranty

9) 100% of all software under Managed Services is on a support contract

10) 100% of our work is done on a Service Ticket (service request)

11) We are rigorous about tracking our time

12) We provide a thorough monthly maintenance for all servers and critical network equipment

13) When we tell clients to do something, they do it

14) We charge enough money to make all of this profitable.

Our clients demand the highest level of service from their machines and they're willing to pay for it.

We have rock-solid processes. We don't make excuses about how we have to sell old equipment or cheap firewalls or let clients work on their own stuff.

The result is very simple: Things Don't Break.

Our least "needy" client pays for a ten-user package of Managed Services. They have two servers, one of which is a terminal server. They have a BDR, an in-house Exchange server, and a Barracuda spam filter. They run two line of business applications. The only thing in their office that's more than three years old is the UPSs in the server rack. But the batteries are newer.

They enter an average of one service ticket per month (company-wide). In most cases, it is billable because it's an add/move/change.

Our "neediest" client pays for a ten-user package of cloud and Managed Services. They have an SBS server that will turn three years old in June. So we are moving them to all-cloud services in January and February. They use a variety of desktops, laptops, and cell phones. All purchased within the last 36 months. Jan-Feb are their busiest time of year.

They enter about ten service tickets per month during January and February and an average of one service ticket per month for the rest of the year (company-wide).

Our clients do not experience hardware failures.
Our clients do not experience data loss.
Our clients do not experience down-time.
Our clients never get viruses.

Period.

And we're not unique in any way. Many MSPs do this and simply don't blog about it. Any IT consultant CAN create a business like this. You simply have to set absolute rules and enforce them absolutely. We all have the ability to provide the absolute best service and support. MOST technology consultants choose not to. Many don't know how to. But there's no mystery here. You just have to believe.

You have to believe that top quality equipment under warranty won't break.
You have to believe that systems that are patched and updated won't break.
You have to believe that clients are willing to pay for the best IF they get the best.
You have to believe that you can execute best practices - and then do it.

- - - - -

Mastering the technology is 25% of the battle, at most.

Mastering the business process is 75% of the battle, at least.

- - - - -

Now to the question at hand . . .

How Do I Run a Successful Technology Business and Fly All Over the Place on Speaking Engagements?


Step One: Create a business that runs well. When it runs well enough, you become the owner and not the manager. Owners don't have to live inside their business every day.

Step Two: I make personal choices that allow me to travel as much as I want. Here's what I mean.

For me there are three kinds of travel: Business travel that someone else pays for; Business travel that I pay for; and Personal travel.

Example One: My most recent trip to Australia. The SMB IT Professionals of Australia paid for my airfare and a few nights hotel to speak at their national conference in Surfers Paradise. So the flight was paid for, as was a few days hotel and food. As long as I was 1/3 of the way across the globe, I added a week to that trip. Out of my pocket came $400 for a condo on the beach and whatever I spent on food and travel. In all, it was about $1,500 personal travel.

Example Two: My most recent trip to Southern California. I paid my airfare and hotel for a few nights so I could attend and speak at SMB Techfest. All out of pocket. Then I stayed for a few extra days for personal vacation time, because I like the beach. I met up with friends and really had a 30% work day on Saturday. But I paid for that as personal. Business expense on my part (hotel, food, rental car): about $800. Personal expense on my part: about $300.

Example Three: My most recent trip to Hawaii. This was 100% vacation. Or maybe 90%. I did some writing and blogging. But basically, it was all out of pocket for my daughter and myself. Ten days in paradise. Total personal out of pocket: about $3,500.

If the first question is how I have time for all that, I hope it's answered. I can run 99% of my "book" and educational business from anywhere in the world. And I can run 95% of my Managed Service business remotely.

As to the money, the answer is very simple: I choose to spend my money on traveling. I don't buy a new car very often (I'm on my third car since 1997). I don't spend money on boats or big trucks or swimming pools or lavish clothing. I choose to spend my money on travel. I love meeting new people, doing new things, and seeing new places.

- - - - -

I'm sorry for the long answer, but it boils down to this.

About six years ago I wrote down the words, "I want to write more; I want to speak more; I want to travel more." And then I proceeded to create a life where I can do those things.

Your dreams may vary.

:-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Don't Miss My Annual "State of the Nation" Address for Small Business IT

Karl's 7th Annual Annual "State of the Nation" Address 


Tomorrow -
Wednesday, January 20th
9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern

Mark your calendar now and don't miss this once-a-year podcast. This will be my 7th Annual "State of the Nation" for small technology providers.

Don't miss this year's webinar.

Webinar Registration: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3940389460787292674

No cost. Just register and tune in.

Paste that into your calendar so you don't forget!


Topics Include:

  • Highlights (lowlights?) from 2015
  • Windows 8 / 10 / what's next
  • Cloud Services
  • The Economy
  • Building the Habit of Success

- - - - -

As I look forward to an amazingly productive year, I am turning my focus to defining the most important habits of success that will take me to the next level. I am convinced that more people could do amazing things with a few changes in this area.

The business environment has never been better poised to take off. You know, you never have to worry about the economy "out there" when you own a small business. Yes you have to work hard, but you really only have to worry about your own personal economy - and you have 95% control of that.

As strange as it sounds, this is a wonderful time to reboot your business, sell some new products, and improve your business.

Tune in to learn more.

Karl's 7th Annual State of the Nation Address for SMB IT
January 20th
9:00 AM Pacific
Webinar Registration: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3940389460787292674

- - - - -

Note: I have 100 seats and we have 105 registered so far. Do Not Worry!

 One of the things I've learned is that there's about a 50% drop-off rate when things are free. If registration reaches 200, I'll buy the extra seats.

Plan to log in early, though, to guarantee your seat.

See you then.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Y$10K - A Quick Primer on Investing

I certainly didn't want the stock market to drop 390 points on Friday. But more importantly, I haven't enjoyed the 2,000 point slide over the last few weeks.

But it also doesn't scare me.

And to be honest, it's perfect timing for this installment of the Y $10K blog series. If you haven't read the first installment, you can find it here:
http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/2016/01/introducing-y10k-strategies-for-putting.html

Warning: I'm not an investment advisor. But I've been investing since 1993 and I know something about it. 

I want to set your mind at ease a bit with investing. I also want to take this opportunity to remind you that the stock market is not intended to be like gambling. Investing is a long term thing. If you plan to put all your money on black or red and get rich, you won't be successful.

There are three rules about the stock market that you need to accept if you are a new investor:

Rule #1: On any given day, any given stock (or the market as a whole) can go down 10% or 20% or 30%. This is important because it slaps you in the face with some nice, cold water of reality. And if a stock goes down 20% in one day, that doesn't change the rule. It can still go down 20% the next day.

If you're tempted to individual stocks, just remember that they are the riskiest. If you're a beginner, you probably don't want to start buying individual stocks. You can be tempted all you want. Just don't do it. There are lots of places on the Internet where you can set up make-believe investment portfolios and see what your stocks would have done. Play with that.

Don't play with your retirement money.

Rule #2: The stock market eventually always goes up. There are two primary reasons for this. First, eventually there's going to be some inflation. Lots of inflation is bad. A little inflation is good. As the price of "everything" goes up, companies charge more and try to make more, so the value of their stock goes up.

Second, all the companies in the stock market are trying really hard to make more money than they ever have. This might be with new technologies or new marketing strategies. But whatever it is, they all have a primary goal of making more than they made in the past. That "value" is reflected in the price of their stocks.

If you look at the graphic below you can see that there's lots of volatility (ups and downs) in the short term. But as you pull back and look at longer and longer term investments, you can see that the market always goes up eventually.

You need to play it safe as you approach retirement, because it can always go down in the short term. But you can be fulling invested in the long term because it always goes up eventually.

Rule #3: Your safest long-term investment is in the market as a whole, not in individual stocks and bonds. The primary markets in the U.S. are the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ (pronounced nas-dak) National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations System. The Dow is an "index" made up of exactly thirty stocks that are supposed to represent the most important companies in various industries within the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ is an index of over 4,000 companies that are traded on the NASDAQ system.

The best way to trade these companies today is by investing in an exchange-traded fund (ETF) of the Dow or NASDAQ. I won't talk about all the other alternatives and there are lots of people who have other strategies. But I just want to get you to $10,000 as safely as possible. Some of that will be growth, but most of it will be YOU adding money to your account by regular deposits. So there's no get rich quick scheme here.

Aside from ETFs that track the Dow and NASDAQ, there are ETFs that track the S&P 500 and other indexes that are intended to represent the total, broad market. ETFs are very tax efficient because you buy at one price and sell at another. You only pay tax on your gains. The most common alternative would be a mutual fund that tracks the whole stock market, but with mutual funds, all the dividends paid within the fund become taxable to you. So a fund price might go down and you still end up paying taxes. If you don't understand this point, don't worry about it.

Just remember: You want to invest in an ETF - exchange-traded fund - of the total stock market.

If you are starting out with just a small amount of money, I would recommend that you choose one, two, or three of these and nothing else:
- ETF that tracks the Dow Jones Industrial Average
- ETF that tracks the NASDAQ
- ETF that tracks the S &P 500

After twelve months of that, you will have poked around a bit and looked at other tempting things to invest in. In the meantime, you will invested in a good, solid, strategy that will serve you well in the long run. And you will have built the habit of putting money in the market!

- - - - -

This Week's Action Step: Set Up an Automatic Investment Transfer

Last time, I sent you off to create an investment account. One person in another country could not invest in the U.S. stock market. I understand that. So find the safest place you can to invest, and start there. If you're in the U.S., you should have an account at eTrade or Scott Trade or Schwab or someplace that allows you to buy and sell stocks.

This week, I want you to commit to a SMALL investment on a regular basis. In a perfect world, you will schedule a transfer from your bank to your investment account every week. If you have to, schedule it for once a month. No matter how small it is, I want you to make that transfer every week.

Even if you tell me you can't afford anything, I want you to do something. Everyone reading this can do something. $5 or $10 or $100. Something.

Next week we'll talk about ways to save money so you can invest it. For now, I want you to make the biggest deposit you can come up with and then schedule an automatic deposit either weekly or monthly.

It's better to put in $10/week than nothing. If the money's in your pocket, you'll spend it. If it's in the investment portfolio you won't.

- - - - -

This Week's Lesson: Markets Go Up and Down - But They Go Up Eventually

Don't try to "time" the market by getting in at just the right moment.

Don't pay attention to the news every day or every hour. Don't set up a tracking system and watch the market all day long. That will drive you crazy. Don't freak out when the market drops 300 points.

Do look at your portfolio every time you make a deposit. Remember, your primary growth is going to come from making deposits, not the growth of the stocks themselves. You do your part and let the market do it's thing.

Here's the ultimate reason that you shouldn't worry about the daily fluctuations in the stock market: If you had spent that money on beer and fried chicken for $10, it would still be gone. Better to have that money in the market working for you.

- - - - -

Thanks for all the emails about this. Tell your friends to get on board. Let me know how you're doing.

:-)

Friday, January 15, 2016

SOP: Scheduling within Your Service Department

I posted a new SOP video today, which you can see on my YouTube Channel at
http://www.youtube.com/smallbizthoughts.

Scheduling with Your Service Department

We're not talking about scheduling client jobs. These are the bigger-picture things you need to do every week, every month, and every quarter. Examples include

- Quarterly employee reviews
- Weekly staff meetings
- Staff training
- Client patch management
- Client monthly maintenance
- Client quarterly business reviews
- and more!

I mention two book here:

The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield
and
Running the Service Department (volume 3 of the Managed Services Operations Manual)

More information on the Managed Services Operations Manual at http://www.sop4smb.com.




Feedback always welcome.

Please view, subscribe, and share. Thanks.
:-)

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Bering McKinley Service Fundamentals Workshop: Chicago, Jan 28-29

Got a note from my friends over at Bering McKinley. They're putting on their excellent Service Fundamentals Workshop this month. Check it out.

Here's the memo:

- - - - -

Service Fundamentals Workshop


Chicago | January 28th & 29th


  • End once and for all your business battles. Spend two days with us and two weeks with your team and you’re company is cured. Service Fundamentals is a balance between managing the numbers and the activities of your staff. 
  • Establish and manage your top ten service department commandments and manage to them daily.
  • Create job descriptions that you can manage to and make part of the day-to-day operations of the department.
  • Manage the entire hiring process to make sure you are picking only the best.
  • Understand which operational and financial KPI’s you should be paying attention to. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
  • If Bering McKinley advises you to do it, we always show you how to measure it. You will be an HR Expert when you leave us!


Sample Targets for: 
1. Agreement Gross Profit
2. Service Revenue Mix
3. Service Salaries to Service Revenue
4. Effective Hourly Rate


Who should attend?   

  • Owners who need formal training on delivering service.
  • Dispatchers on their way to being Service Managers.
  • Service Managers who have never received any real training.
  • Experienced Managers new to the industry.



How much?  Three ways to pay!    

Option 1: Unlimited Access Program  
 $175 monthly (12 month term). Unlimited access with one attendee of your choice to all of our workshops and training sessions. Additional seats can be reserved for a flat one time fee of $100 (each additional person). That's it! (Note, not available on our website yet. To sign up please contact us directly).

Option 2:  Workshop Bundle Package
$1500 Per attendee of your choice. Attend any two workshop sessions of your choice for this price! You can pick any combination you wish!

Option 3:  Pay As You Go
$949 Per attendee. No commitment.  Each additional attendee from your company are at a 50% discount rate. (special discounts for current Bering McKinley Peer Team Members and for members of competitive Peer Groups).

*Workshops include a work book for future reference and a library of sample documents including sample contracts, job descriptions, and scope of work samples.


Why?
As an owner, you can’t be all things to all people, hard as you may try.  Utilize the experience and expertise of Bering McKinley to train your staff.  1000’s of your peers have trusted Bering McKinley to train their staff.  You’ll be in great hands.

More info and registration at: https://www.beringmckinley.com/workshop

:-)

Friday, January 08, 2016

Is This Your Year to Save/Make an Extra $10K?

On Monday I posted the first article in my new series - Y $10K.

Lots of people have contacted me and pledged to follow along. I'm sorry for folks in other countries. I am not sure which brokerage accounts and opportunities are available to you. You might have to use a bank to store your money. The goals will still be the same: Develop some good habits around money and sock away some extra savings.

Today's SOP Video is about the Y $10K program. Please give it a look and share it with a friend.



(My YouTube channel is http://www.youtube.com/smallbizthoughts.)

- - - - -

One question I got was, "Why just $10,000 and not a much larger number?" The answer is: This program is for people who have not been able to easily set aside $10K, let alone a much larger number.

The $10K really represents a push to develop good habits around money. Some people are very good about setting aside money. Others save and spend, save and spend.

Once you get $10K in the bank (or wherever), then it's much easier to double that and then double again and again. No matter where you are, it is possible to double your savings and double your investments.

Back when I first set the goal of having a net worth of one million dollars, I used a very simple calculation to motivate myself: How many times do I need to double my investments to reach $1M? Let's look at that question with $10,000.

$10,000 x 2 = $20,000
$20,000 x 2 = $40,000
$40,000 x 2 = $80,000
$80,000 x 2 = $160,000
$160,000 x 2 = $320,000
$320,000 x 2 = $640,000
$640,000 x 2 = $1,280,000

The answer is that I have to double my net worth less than seven times.

Now let's see how this works in the "real" world. Let's say you have $10K in savings plus $25K in a retirement program (IRA, 401k, etc.), and $50K equity in your house. So in very rough numbers, you have a net worth of $85,000 - assuming you have no debt. Now let's do the calculation starting at $85K:

$85,000 x 2 = $170,000
$170,000 x 2 = $340,000
$340,000 x 2 = $680,000
$680,000 x 2 = $1,360,000

You will have to double your investment less than four times exceed $1 million.

The key to remember is this: Anything you've done once, you can do again. So if you socked away $10,000, you can save another $10,000. If you've save $100,000, you can save another $100,000.

Action Steps:

1) Watch that video

2) Read that blog post

3) Send me an email and pledge to follow along

Note: Your first step to putting money in investments is in that first blog post. Go do that. The next official Y$10K blog post will be Monday January 18th. Stay tuned.

:-)

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Join Me at SMB TechFest - Jan 21-22

Join me in Anaheim at SMB TechFest!!!



Small Biz Thoughts invites you to join us at SMB TechFest on January 21-22 in Anaheim, CA.  Meet the Small Biz Thoughts team and participate in leading sessions to grow your business.  Expert speakers, IT Mixer, Expo Hall, and prizes included in this exclusive no-cost VIP pass for you.
We have a limited number of complimentary VIP passes and they’re first come first serve.


Accelerate at SMB TechFest
Accelerate your business and experience high-speed exotic cars onsite.  
There will also be a raffle. :-)


 
Audi R8                                                                                                     Ferrari F430 F1
   

Additional included benefits:

•         Breakfast, Lunch, and IT Mixer Appetizers
•         Free Parking and Internet Wi-Fi
•         Network with industry peers with beer & wine


Level 200-300 topics:

•  Selling IT Firms. Begin preparing today.
•  Winning at Sales.  The Leadership Series.
•  Partner Panel: Business Transformations
•  Make Your IT Services Marketing Zing
•  Grow your business with standard operating procedures
•  Providing Online Data Protection and Versioning
•  Auditing & Documenting client networks
•  Next Generation AntiVirus & Internet Security
•  Selling Security to Non-Regulated Firms
•  Staying a step ahead of the bad guys
•  Successful Online Marketing Strategies
•  Spanning networks without cables
•  Impacting industry regulations & legislation
•  Profiting with Backup & Disaster Preparedness


See you at the Event!

www.smbTechFest.com/Events   * 949-266-1650  *  info@smbTechFest.com

:-)

Monday, January 04, 2016

Introducing Y$10K - Strategies for Putting an Additional $10,000 in Your Bank Account

Y$10K

Please join me in a new program focused on one simple long-term goal. Let's spend 2016 putting an additional $10,000 in your bank account!

You remember Y2K? Lots of people look back and say it was "nothing" because the world went on without a blip and computers did not crash much. In reality, the Y2K rollover from 1999 went smoothly because tens of thousands of people worked really hard to make that happen. I know because I worked with about 25 programmers between 1993 and 1999 on millions of lines of code.

Well, Y$10K will be a bit different. It is 100% focused on YOU and your money. No one is going to help you. You have to do all the work. I'll give advice where I can, but YOU have to dedicate yourself to executing your decisions.

I am amazed at how many people I meet who have essentially nothing saved for their retirement. And even more have not enough saved for their retirement.

It doesn't matter where you are in your career or how much money you have: We could all use an extra $10K. This series of blog posts is dedicated to helping you by showing you the way.

Note: I'm not making any money on this. I don't sell stocks or bonds. I'm not asking you to send me anything. At the same time, I'm not a financial adviser. I'm just a guy who has run several successful businesses and I think this is valuable information to share.

So let's get started.

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You don't have to read The Buckets of Money Retirement Solution: The Ultimate Guide to Income for Life by Raymond Lucia (although it wouldn't hurt) in order to understand the basic concept that you need to have various "buckets" or places to hold money. You need a retirement bucket, and emergency fund bucket, etc.

Step One: Create a Sacred Place to Keep Your Money

You need a place to keep the money that we're going to be building/saving in this project. I call this a sacred place for one simple reason: You must commit absolutely that you will not take money out of this bucket ever, at least in 2016. If you can do that - If you can resist taking out any money for 12 months - then you will have the habit of saving.

So where do you put your money? The worst place is in the bank because you will early approximately nothing. And no matter how much they promise you that there are no fees, they will figure out a way to charge you for something. So with interest rates around zero percent, you will lose money by putting it in the bank. Under your mattress is the second worst place because there is no growth potential. And there's at least a microscopic possibility that it will be stolen.

The best place to keep your Y$10K nest egg is in a brokerage account. Don't worry: We're not taking any risks and we're not going to do any wild stuff with your money. In a brokerage account, your money is safe, it might grow a little, and it will all be there when we get around to deciding how to invest it.

Note: Do not go down the road of day trading and trying to make a killing with investments. If you're interested in this program, there's a near-100% probability that you don't have the training or skills to make money with that stuff.

The formula for getting rich is pretty simple:

- Earn money in the job you know best (technology consulting)
- Invest that money is something safe
- Never take money out of the investment account
- Watch the power of compound interest do it's job

If you need a good place to start investigating brokerages, check out the Motley Fool website: http://www.fool.com/how-to-invest/broker/.

I use eTrade. I don't know if they're any better or worse than the others. I used Schwab for many years, but their fees are higher, so I switched. Here's what you do:

1) Pick one of these sites (eTrade, TD Ameritrade, Capitol One, etc.)

2) Open an account on their site. That means you create a username and password.

3) Connect that site to your bank account so you can move money into it. You normally have 10-30 days to "fund" your new account. So you don't have to put money in today in order to create the account.

4) Fund it. Even if you can only put $100 in that account - Do It!

I'll give you two weeks to get this done. I don't care who you are, you can siphon off $100 in the next two weeks and stick it in an account. Send me an email when you do this. I want to hear from you. karlp@smallbizthoughts.com


Lesson Number One: You Cannot Get Wealthy with Earned Income

There are two primary kinds of income, which the government calls "earned" and "unearned" income. Earned income is the money you make from working a job. You will get a W2 or 1099 (or the profits from your S-Corp of LLC, etc.). Basically, that's the money you make.

Unearned income is money that you acquire from investments. This might be the mortgage on your house, investments in a brokerage account, rental property, government bonds, and so forth.

Earned income is used to live your life. You use it to buy groceries, drive your car, pay the light bill, go on vacation, and all the little things in life. The sad truth is that there's a Law of Rising Expectations, which says that you will spend as much money as you have. If you make $50,000 you will lead a $50,000 lifestyle. If you make $100,000 you will lead a $100,000 lifestyle.

And too many of us lead a $110,000 lifestyle on an income of $100,000. That means going into debt a little deeper every year.

The reason you can never take money out of your investment "bucket" is that it will probably disappear into your lifestyle. It will probably never be paid back. It will simply go away as if you never earned it.

As you can see, the place to make money is with earned income. The place to keep money is with unearned income.

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I hope you'll start down this journey with me. You can start any time, but the sooner the better. Send me an email and pledge to reach the $10,000 goal. Write it down. Put a sign on your wall in front of your computer. And if that's too easy, make is a $100,000 goal.

Remember: You have two weeks to make that initial investment. Put as much as you can in there. But remember that you can't take it out. So don't put in too much. You never want to get in the habit of taking money out. We'll talk about how you'll come up with a little spare money here and there to throw into the bucket.

Subscribe to the blog and check back in two weeks.

- karlp
:-)

Sunday, January 03, 2016

2016: Make this a Year of Planning

I posted a new video Friday on my YouTube channel - www.youtube.com/smallbizthoughts.

The focus is on planning all year round. So many of us get caught up with the first-of-the-year frenzy of over promising to ourselves. Whether it's losing weight, saving money, or cutting down on beers, we have a tendency to make grand pronouncements on January 1 that are long forgotten by the 31st.

This year, I encourage you to try something different: Plan and execute all year long.

In fact, you don't have to plan much at all for the next two weeks. Let the new year buzz fade away. Then start regular, monthly planning sessions.


One of the most important elements of success is repetition. You can't budget once a year, look at it once a year, and have any hope of reaching your budget goals. The same is true with personal growth, business strategies, and all other planning.

I always think back to the days when my daughter was just about to crawl. It was faster for her to roll on the floor. So she'd roll a few times, then look around and make a course correction. Then roll a bit and make another course correction. This is infinitely better than heading off in one direction and never making those minor corrections.

Set aside a special time each month of 2016 to spend an hour on your business planning. Review your numbers. Review your personal goals.

Write down your notes but don't worry about getting it right. You can make changes as often as you want. That's called working ON your business.

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Special Announcement: Year Y$10K


Please check out this blog tomorrow for the first installment of a new series called Y$10K. I want to walk through a plan to help you put an extra $10,000 in the bank by the end of the year. For some of you this will seem easy. For others it seems impossible. Most are in the middle.

But who can't use an extra $10K, right? So join me and we'll go through this together.