Monday, June 18, 2018

Take Control of Your Communication (It's Really Okay)

I just finished writing an article for the Relax Focus Succeed newsletter that will be coming out next week. (Sign Up Here)

In that article, I mention author Neal Stephenson and his policies for communication. As part of my research, I wandered over to the web site page where he explains why he never responds to email or speaking requests. And I found an interesting slide-out window:


Do you see it?

There's a place to put your email and subscribe to updates from Stephenson's press people. At first it seems odd that you should let them email you, but there is literally no way for you to email him.

But this reveals an interesting truth: You can limit your communication intake and still produce as much output as you want. Why is that? Very simple: Most people are very poor at managing their time and attention. As a result, it's easy for you to interrupt their flow and break into their communication channel.

I have found this to be true in my personal and professional lives. With very few exceptions, I never answer my phone. But when I call others, I know they'll answer because most people don't have rules like this.

I check email on a schedule and keep it closed the rest of the time. I check Facebook on a schedule and keep it closed the rest of the time.

I have weaned myself off the dopamine pump that comes with social media alerts. And most people never notice. Every once in awhile, someone will accuse me of ignoring them. That is, until they realize I'm ignoring everyone else as well.

Interruption - especially electronic interruption - has a tendency to make us feel more productive while it actually destroys our productivity. We confuse busy-ness with effectiveness. At the same time, we don't "feel" the effects of lost start-up time required to get back on track after an interruption.

If you have no rules around in-bound communication, you can assume that people are wasting your time. Consider making a chart. What are all the ways you can be interrupted? For example, telephone, text message, instant message apps, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Email, door knock, shoulder tap, fire alarm, etc.

Consider what would happen if you pick five of these and allocate three minutes to each of them every hour. That's 25% of your time! Does that seem reasonable? It shouldn't!

So when you meet someone who says, "I don't waste my time with social media," consider that they might have it exactly right. If you can point to where social media (or any other communication medium) improves your life or business measurably, then allocate a limited about of time to it. If it's just fun, then consider cutting it out of the business day and only using it evenings or weekends.

Put this on your list of personal SOPs: Develop an in-bound communication policy.

Feedback welcome.

:-)


Sunday, June 17, 2018

6-Minute Tour of the SBT Community

On Saturday I put together a quick video tour of the Small Biz Thoughts Community.

Click to Watch Now
You can find that here on YouTube

This walk-through gives you a sense of the look and feel of the site as well as some of the contents, which currently include . . .

  • Events Calendar
  • Forums
  • Audio Programs
  • Books
  • Checklists
  • Classes
  • Excel Files
  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Webinars
  • SOPs
  • Videos
  • White Papers
  • Word Docs
  • Workbooks
  • . . . and more!

Remember: Early Birds save the most. Right now, a 15-month subscription is only $799.

That price goes up July 1st. Sign up today and you'll be Founding Member - and save 46%.

Unsure? Want to ask some questions? Great!

Join me for a live webinar Tuesday, June 19th at 4 PM Pacific
- - I'm pretty sure that's 9:00 AM June 20th in Sydney

Register for the Webinar

Note: In this webinar, I'm going to reveal the Community Leaders we have so far and the forums they're going to be running. Please join us.

:-)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Build a Business Relationship - Not Just a Technical One

Debbie Takes to the Cloud

I'm always telling people to build a business relationship with clients - not just a technology relationship. This is extremely important in times of change. (And constant change will be the name of the game for the rest of your life.)

Even though I refer to my first IT company as KPEnterprises, the full name was KPEnterprises Business Consulting, Inc. It was not technology consulting. It as business consulting. And clients took that seriously.

Here's the story of one client who made massive changes in her business simply because she trusted us to take care of her and her technology. Her name is Debbie and her company did marketing for new home developments. They went through some tough times when the housing market collapsed in 2008-2010.

One day, Debbie called us. She said that they were bleeding money and had to make major cuts. She had already laid off a few people. And, she said, “You need to help us save money.”

Her idea was that she could somehow reduce the amount of technology they had and therefore reduce the cost of maintaining it. My brother Manuel was President of my company at the time. He started a business-focused discussion with her.

Debbie revealed that their lease was almost up on their office and their big phone system. So she was planning to move to a smaller office and get a smaller phone system.

Manuel then pitched an idea for a virtual office. Because we had space in a data center, he told Debbie that she could save a lot of money by not paying rent on an expensive office the Bay Area. He told her we’d take care of her server and we'll put it in our colo. Then someday it’ll become virtualized; and some day it will simply cease to exist.

And he told her, “You won't care and you won't know the difference. You won’t have downtime, and we're going to take care of your data.” He told her to send her employees home and we’ll make sure they’re taken care of.

Note: At no point did we promise to cut the amount she paid us. After all, we were saving her lots of money on rent. Plus, we set them up with a hosted phone system, and unplugged their old one.

As Manuel will tell you, Debbie said yes to this idea right away, largely due to her long relationship with our company and the fact that we had been taking care of her technology for twelve years.

Eventually, Debbie actually moved to Connecticut and all her employees stayed in California. And everything just kept working. As promised, her machine was eventually retired and all her data and email moved to hosted cloud services.

Imagine the trust it takes to make that kind of a major change in your business. That's not something you do because the "computer guy" said so. But it is something you would do if a business consultant recommended.

:-)


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

It's Not Too Late - Move to Managed Services NOW

Please join me for this free webinar - with LOTS of give-aways . . .

In association with Zyxel Nebula

June 21, 2018
11:00 AM Pacific

Register Now


Zyxel is sponsoring this webinar. It's intended for folks who still haven't figured out how to be massively successful with managed services.

Making the move from “break/fix” customer support to a service contract model is a way to increase profit and improve customer relationships.  In this webinar, reveal how to make the move to managed services.

All attendees will receive a copy of my book: Managed Services in a Month as well a new 10 page guide on making the move to recurring revenue.


Providing Managed Services Webinar

Making the move from “break/fix” customer support to a service contract model is a way to increase profit and improve customer relationships.  In this webinar, I reveal how to make the move to managed services today.

All attendees will receive a FREE copy of Managed Services in a Month as well as my all-new 10-page guide to managed service.

All attendees will also receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Plus one lucky attendee will win a $1,000 gift card!

Please sign up today. I'll see you on the 21st!

:-)

Friday, June 08, 2018

Small Biz Thoughts Community - Q&A

This morning I held a quick webinar to talk about "what's inside" the Small Biz Thoughts Community. Just posted a recording of that on YouTube:





Here are the links that appear on the 5th slide:

Blog announcement:
http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/2018/06/small-biz-thoughts-membership-site.html

Launch web site with intro videos:
https://smbbooks.net/sbt-community-launch


Or just go to the order page, read the terms of service, and sign up now:
https://www.smallbizthoughts.org/launch-order/


Please post questions here or email me directly.

:-)

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

My Favorite Marketing - 1.5 hr Training Video

I had a great turnout for the webinar this morning.

I rarely have such a quick turn-around to a live webinar, but it just worked out today. The recording is posted now on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/smallbizthoughts.

This might have been stretched out a bit to two one-hour presentations, but I wanted to try to squish it all into one. So at an hour and a half, it's somewhere in the middle.

My three favorite kinds of marketing are: A regular newsletter; Direct mail; and Speaking or training. I talk about how I use all of these and throw in some best practices from my experience over the last 23 years.

Here's the replay (1.5 hours):




Along the way, I mention that I have a sample security training you can give to your clients and prospects. Here are the links I list in the video:

YouTube video of training - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSRkV4XylRg

Downloads at http://www.smallbizthoughts.com/events/Palachuk-SafeComputing.zip

Feedback welcome.



Next Webinar: Friday at 9 AM Pacific

Join me for a free webinar Friday

Introducing the Small Biz Thoughts Community Q and A !!!


-- All your questions answered
June 8th 10:00 AM Pacific
Register Now: Zoom Webinar

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_hK4bUvYTQeappYZUxm-kAg

:-)

Monday, June 04, 2018

Four June Webinars - Join Me!



June has become the month for Webinars!

I have four scheduled this month. Please sign up for at least three (one's kind of a repeat).

All are free.

1. My Favorite Marketing!

Free Webinar - My Favorite Marketing Techniques
June 6th 9:00 AM Pacific
Register Now: Zoom Webinar

I'm going to present my three favorite marketing techniques. These techniques brought me almost every client I've signed to managed services for the last twenty-three years. This webinar will be about 45 minutes. But I'm going to stick around and answer all your questions.

See more details in this blog post.

- - - - -

2. Introducing the Small Biz Thoughts Community

Introducing the Small Biz Thoughts Community Q and A !!!
-- All your questions answered
June 8th 10:00 AM Pacific
Register Now: Zoom Webinar

Introducing the Small Biz Thoughts Community Q and A !!!
-- All your questions answered
June 19th 4:00 PM Pacific
Register Now: Zoom Webinar

Last Friday I announced my new membership community. See the blog post. See the video introduction.

These webinars are intended to give you some idea about what's on the inside and what we plan to do with the community going forward. And then I'm going to answer all your questions.

Note: The 4 PM Pacific time slot is for my friends in Australia and New Zealand.

- - - - -

3. It's Not Too Late - Move to Managed Services NOW  

In association with Zyxel Nebula
June 21, 2018 11:00 AM Pacific

Register Now

Zyxel is sponsoring this webinar. It's not about their product. It's intended for folks who still haven't figured out how to be massively successful with managed services.

If you're not sure whether break/fix or managed services is best for you, this webinar is for you. If you think managed services is for you, but you haven't figured out how to make it work profitably, then it's also for you.

If you run a super successful managed service business, then this is probably not for you. But Zyxel has a pretty cool offer you might be interested in.



:-)

Friday, June 01, 2018

Small Biz Thoughts Membership Site - Coming August 1st

As many of you know from discussions earlier this year,

I am launching a membership site!


(If you prefer a video-centric version of this blog post, please hop over to https://smbbooks.net/sbt-community-launch.)

What is the Small Biz Thoughts Community? 

Well, it has two primary components. First, it's a community. With luck, the community will have people interacting, meeting new people, sharing experiences, and helping each other learn new techniques to be successful going forward.

Our industry is in an era of massive change. Keeping up will not be easy. We will have educational components, training, live events, forums, contests, and more. When you say, "How do I make sure I didn't miss anything?" the answer will be: Check the Community!

The other component will be content. We will gradually add materials from my vast library of resources. This includes books, white papers, audio programs, recorded webinars, handouts, checklists, standard operating procedures, and more.

Plus, we're going to have something no one else has done in our community, ever: A Break Room. Details to be announced.

My personal mission is to inspire success through a combination of serving myself and serving others. Not sure about that? Read Relax Focus Succeed. That's been my mission for more than a dozen years.

I honestly and sincerely want YOU to be successful. I have dozens of emails from people telling me that they figured out cloud services because of my webinars, or they sold their first managed service offering because they were inspired by Managed Services in a Month. That's dozens of emails from this year, 2018. I have over a thousand emails like that from the last ten years.

When people ask me what I do, I say,

"I help technology consultants to be better at the business part of their business."



And after all these years, that adds up to this project: Community and Content. The benefits are obvious: Make more money while we engage in building and maintaining a community of technology consultants that is ever-changing and ever-learning.

This is critically important in an era of Exponential Change. If you want some information about the tip of the iceberg regarding this era of exponential growth, please check out my January presentation on the State of the Nation Address for 2018.

The bottom line for YOU is that you need to figure out how to guarantee your success going forward. You need to maintain your skills. You need to grow the skills within you company. You need to figure out how to survive and thrive in an ever-shifting environment. The SBT Community is dedicated to your success.

In a perfect world, every single member of this group will have the skills, processes, and habits that will allow them to retire wealthy. I can't promise that, of course. You have to do your part. This is absolutely not a get-rich-quick scheme.

My entire approach to success is this: Go to work. Work really hard. Go home. Have a life. Enjoy your life. Then go to work the next day, work your ass off, and do it all again. Rinse and repeat for twenty years.

Simple, right? The point is, you have to work really hard.

But I'm here to help. And my vision is that the SBT Community will be here to help.

How are we different? Well . . . we're going to have . . .

  • Massive amounts of content
  • Fresh Content
  • Great forums (special interest groups)
  • No vendor advertisements*
  • Thousands of pages of checklists, worksheets, documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, etc.
  • New, fresh, interactive events every month
  • (Eventually) ALL of my works. All of my books. All of my presentations. All of my checklists. All of my recorded content. All of my audio programs. All of my webinars. etc.
* Vendors are absolutely welcome! But we're not selling advertising inside the community. I want a community built by and for the members. Vendors are extremely important to your business, so we'll welcome them to participate. We just won't have a site that looks like Times Square, filled with so many ads that you can't find the content.


Our Challenge is to help you to be successful in the ever-changing Exponential Century.

If you're one of the 75,000 I.T. professionals I'm connected with by email or social media, then you know that I've been educating and building this community for almost fifteen years. No one provides more education than we do. No one provides more free content than we do. No one has sold more books focused on Managed Services than I have. This is literally all I do!

As a result, you can count on me to work full time to make this community work, to make YOUR business successful, and to help you keep up with the new, emerging technologies that will make your successful in the years ahead.

Our goal is very simple:

The Small Biz Thoughts Community keeps you profitable 
on the cutting edge of technology consulting.

- - - - -

Enough build-up. Here's what we're doing.

I'm launching the site August 1st. But I'm pre-launching the site today. Here's what it's going to look like. "Standard" pricing will begin September 1st. Standard pricing will be:

•       Monthly Price: Only $99 (one year commitment)
•       Annual Price: Only $999 (Save 16% with annual membership)

But of course I have a "Launch" bonus.

If you sign up in the month of August, and buy the annual membership, I'm going to give you three additional months for free. So August pricing looks like this:


August Price - Save Big

  • Monthly Price: Only $99 (one year commitment)
  • Annual Price: Only $999
  • Bonus: 3 additional months FREE
    (15 months for the price of 12)
  • Save 33% with annual membership!
  • Founding Member Status

You can save even more if you buy before the site is actually launched! You can save $100 more by purchasing in July:


July Price - Save Bigger

  • Annual Price: Only $899
  • Bonus: 3 additional months FREE
    (15 months for the price of 12)
  • Save 39%!
  • Founding Member Status


And, finally, you can save even more if you buy right now! You can save $200 more by purchasing in June:


June Price - Save Biggest

  • Annual Price: Only $799
  • Bonus: 3 additional months FREE
    (15 months for the price of 12)
  • Save 46%!
  • Founding Member Status



The bottom line is simple: The sooner you sign up, the better for you!




Go to the sales page here: Sign Up Today

Note that prices go UP July 1st. Check it out today.

:-)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

I've Been Replaced by a Robot!

Oh no.

I've been replaced by a robot.

My latest SOP video has just been posted. Of course I welcome your feedback on the content (Is it worthwhile to do a lengthy monthly maintenance?).

But more importantly, I would like your feedback on my new robot. Right now he doesn't have a name. That seems to be a bone of contention.

Anyway . . .

I held a design contest and picked this guy because he has lots of joints. So, theoretically, we can make him walk, dance, climb stairs, or whatever we choose to do. I handed the Adobe Illustrator files over to my assistant Kara and said, "See what you can do with this."

I posted her first trial video on Facebook. It was very cool.

Then I started wondering what else we could do with him. I've calling him a him for no reason.

Here's the latest SOP Video:

(also see all my other videos on my YouTube channel)


I really want your feedback.

Does the robot "work" for videos like this?

Do you think it would be better for shorter content (60 seconds or less)?

Do you like it? Do you hate it? Is it just a distraction?

Does he need a name?

Creating a video like this takes a lot more time than just having me stand in front of my mural, of course. Kara hasn't told me the total time so far. But it's not zero, so it also costs money.

Please send me any thoughts you have.

- - - - -

How Kara Did This

This video was made with a program in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite called Character Animator CC.

It’s actually way cooler than it looks. When you bring it up, it uses the camera to identify your features. Then you associate actions (smile, frown, raise eyebrows, etc.) with graphic components. If you look left, it looks left. If you move your head, it moves it’s head.

The lip sync on this would be much better if I had recorded it with a camera in the program. But I just gave Kara an audio file and she did this.

The program comes with a sample character you can animate in order to learn the program. . . . Just playing around to see if it works for marketing. 

More info at https://www.adobe.com/products/character-animator.html

If you have the Adobe cloud suite, you already have the right to install this program.

. . . Just don't blame me if you waste a bunch of time on it.

:-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Free Webinar - My Favorite Marketing Techniques - June 6th

Heads UP! I'm doing a marketing webinar.

I get asked a lot about marketing and I don't have much to say. I did build one good-sized managed service business (my second was intended to be small but super-profitable). I grew KPEnterprises to twelve employees and about $960,000 in revenue.

So I have a few things I did with marketing that I would do again.

After mentioning this on a call some time ago, I said I'd put together a webinar on "Everything" I know about marketing. Enough people said they'd sign up . . . so I'm putting it together. Well here it is:

Topic: My Favorite Marketing Techniques
Jun 6, 2018
9:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)


Register in advance for this webinar:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_P27BHfhBR_W7rD4BNAuLyA

I'm going to present my three favorite marketing techniques. These techniques brought me almost every client I've signed to managed services for the last twenty-three years.

This webinar will be about 45 minutes. But I'm going to stick around and answer all your questions.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

This webinar is free.

Join me live!

:-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

How Do You Know What Each Client Needs?

I got a great question from Chris M:

Just finished your book, it was a really good read. I’m new to owning my own MSP business, worked for another MSP for 7 years and knew I could offer so much more if I started on my own.
 One question I have for you is. How do you gauge what each customer really needs? When they call you, who are you actually talking to? An IT director that knows what they need, or just a regular non-technical business owner that is completely lost?
 What series of questions do you go through with them in order to gauge what they actually need
?

Thanks for the question, Chris!


I'm going to break this down into two parts:

1) How do you determine what each client needs?

2) Who are you actually talking to?

#1 also covers the question about what we ask and which questions we use.


Of course my answer only reflect my experience, but that experience includes 23 years of owning IT businesses and working with other managed service providers. With only minor exceptions, my managed service experience is with companies with 10-150 endpoints. 


How do you determine what each client needs?

My favorite way to determine what a client needs is to perform a network assessment. See my blog posts on the 68-point checklist. You'll need to update it and customize it to fit your business. Basically, this is a combination of questions you ask the client and investigation you do at the server.

Normally, clients call you in for a reason. Sometimes, you're doing outbound sales calls. But even then, the clients who say "Yes. Come talk to me." have a reason for saying yes. A great opening question is simply, Why am I here?

Computers are a bit like cars (or air conditioners, or plumbing): There are the problems the client knows about and the problems they don't know about. You get called in to address the problems they know about. It is your job to give them a bigger picture and look for the problems they don't know about.

A great car example is a scheduled oil change. As long as we're here, let's go ahead and do that 68-point inspection for free. Why? Because most of the time there's a legitimate need for other services. I recently bought new brakes when I went in for an oil change.

My old sales pitch essentially amounted to this: It's great to have me come in and do a 68-point checkup. But it's even better if we monitor everything on that checklist every month. The items on that checklist really represent the health of your network. Keeping it healthy will maximize your uptime and keep your business humming along.

And here's the beauty of managed service RMM tools: Once I stopped doing all those checks manually and have 67 of them done automatically every minute of every day, I make more money! I charge the same amount, but I pay $1.50 per month for monitoring instead of spending labor running those checks. And now that's my sales pitch.

Also see notes on my quarterly roadmap meetings with clients.

Bottom line: Between what the client tells us and what we find while poking around, we have a very good idea about the health of the network. Then we make a list of all the things they could do to fix it. If there are a lot, we divide it into Critical (e.g, replace firewall, backup not working), Important (e.g., replace old workstations, begin patch management), "Nice to have" (e.g., all copies of Office on the same version, new workgroup printer).

In general, you want to have conversations about these things, not just poke around and hand them a quote. Engage them in a discussion.

Which brings us to . . .


Who are you actually talking to?

This depends on the client. In a perfect world, you will never talk to someone unless they have spending authority. In small companies (25 and under, generally), that's the owner. In a few cases, the person in charge of bringing you in may have some spending authority. For example, they might be able to spend up to $1,000 without getting approval. But they can't sign ongoing service contracts.

So, the owner really needs to be involved with small companies. Everyone else can say whatever they want, but they can't sign a deal.

Which is not to say that you should ignore the person who may become your primary contact. You want that person to love you and recommend you to the owner. The primary contact may not be able to say yes, but she can easily say NO!

With larger companies, you will probably start with the person in charge of operations or even IT. They might even have larger spending authority, including the power to  sign contracts. How do you know?

Ask.

Crazy, I know. But just ask. You have no way of knowing what the internal politics looks like. So just be very honest that you need a decision maker in the room when you present your quote. This is easier than you think.

After you spend an hour or so running that 68-point checkup, you take lots of notes. And you make an appointment to come back and talk about it. And you tell them that you need the decision maker in the room when you come back for that meeting.

If you get to the presentation and that person is not there, you tell them you need to reschedule. For some people, this sounds very hard. But look at it realistically: If the decision maker isn't there, you have a room filled with people who can stop a deal, but no one who can say YES. So you really haven't lost anything if you walk away.

With very few exceptions, no one at the client's office will understand technology or the implications of your proposal well enough to translate your presentation to the owner/decision maker. Even if they love you, they do not have the ability to make this translation.

So you need to get the business owner in the room. And then you need to learn to talk without ANY computer jargon whatsoever. You can talk about generic things like "a backup strategy," but don't get into the details of BDR onsite vs. disc-to-disc-to-cloud. You have to work really hard on descriptions and analogies that make sense without getting mired in techno-babble.

Think about your experience at conferences. What are the worst vendor presentations? Menu option, menu option, feature, feature, feature. And the best? Well, they talk about how you're going to make money providing better to support to your clients.

Business owner to business owner, you need to figure out how to describe why your proposal really is their best solution. Some people will get it and some won't. But the more people you talk to, the better you'll get. And the more you listen and determine how owners respond, the deals you'll close.


Congratulations on your new business. Send me an email when you sign your first managed service contract.

:-)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Best Time to Buy: ASAP

As with everything in business, pricing strategies evolve over time. Early on in my "content" business, I used to have big sales. Over time, I partnered with a few organizations to give standardized discounts.

But one philosophy has remained throughout: I give the biggest discount when I launch a product or service. A great example of this was the crowd-source funding for the big 4-book set of Standard Operating Procedures. The bundle price for this set is $300 (perpetually on sale at $279.95).

During the crowd funding campaign, I let people have the set for only $99. That's 67% off!

Monica (my friend and sometime marketing manager) said that I didn't need to give such a deep discount. As she put it, "All those people would pay full price. People helping you crowd fund this project are your biggest supporters."

Exactly! And here's what I said, "I want my friends and supporters to have the best price! Let strangers pay full price."

Last year, when I launched two new books, I gave the new versions away to anyone who had bought the previous version in the months before. I didn't want anyone to say, "Oh crap. I wish I'd waited."

Lesson: Don't wait.

Lesson: Don't worry that I'll take advantage of you.

Lesson: When I announce something new, buy it immediately. The price will only go up.

Feedback welcome.

:-)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Free Webinar - Learn the Cloud 5 Pack Offering - May 31st

Free Webinar - Learn the Cloud 5 Pack Offering - Thursday


Subject: How I Sold Millions of Dollars Worth of Cloud Services

(How I Built a 7-Figure MSP Using the Cloud 5 Pack Formula)

Thursday
May 31st
11 AM PST / 2 PM EST
Sign Up Now

I am very proud to be working with ChannelPro Network to offer a great webinar based on my Cloud 5-Pack Offering.

Last year, I traveled the world teaching IT Service providers how to create a 7-Figure Managed Service business using the Cloud 5-Pack formula.

Notes:

1. If you attended last year's Roadshow, then you have 95% of this information. No need to attend. (But please tell your friends about it.)

2. If you missed last year's Roadshow, PLEASE do yourself a favor and attend this webinar.

I will lay out a program that could literally become your business model for the next five years. And best of all, this program will pay for itself with the FIRST client you sign up!

You can sign up here: Register Here Today!


What You Will Learn In This Online Workshop

  • Cloud 5 Bundling: How to create a profitable bundle of cloud services that will give you a competitive advantage and deliver tremendous value to your customers.
  • Cloud 5 Pricing: How to price your offer to achieve a 73% or more margin.
  • Cloud 5 Delivery: How you can setup your business so that it can be supported by an administrative assistant, freeing you up to work on your business instead of in your business.
  • Cloud5 Marketing: How to get your ideal prospects to sign up to meet with you and close them quickly.

So Sign Up Today!

- - - - -

Hundreds of people attended my Cloud Roadshows last year. But millions missed out. Here's what one attendee says about the Cloud 5-Pack seminar:

Ken Shafer - Portland, OR

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

5-Week Course Starts Next Week: Build a Highly Successful Appointment Setting Machine

We are VERY Pleased to announce a new course at Great Little Seminar:
[5W-14] Build a Highly Successful Appointment Setting Machine - Taught by long-time MSP coach Josh Peterson of Bering McKinley. 
   
Build a Highly Successful Appointment Setting Machine

- Five Tuesdays - May 29th - June 26th 

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

- All classes recorded 

Register Now



For years we've labored with how to get in front of more prospects. We've gone through outsourced firms. We've hired friends and neighbors and even some strangers. It just doesn't seem to work. Until now.

Josh will show you how to:

1. Build the internal processes

2. Hire the right people

3. How to compensate your appointment setter

4. Onboard them (hint: this is the most important piece)

5. Measure, manage, and motivate

6. Handle appointments that don't meet your criteria
Delivered by Josh Peterson, IT Coach and Trainer.

Includes five weeks of webinar classes with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.


Only $259


A Few Details . . .
  • Each course will be five one-hour webinars
  • There will be handouts and "homework" assignments
  • If you wish to receive feedback on your assignments, there will be instructor office hours
  • Class calls will be recorded and made available to paid attendees only.
  • All calls start at 9:00 AM Pacific Time
Questions? Email concierge@smallbizthoughts.com

:-)

Monday, May 21, 2018

If I Were to Start an MSP Again . . . Richard Tubb Hosts a 3-Part Webinar Series

My good friend, fellow coach, and podcasting co-conspirator Richard Tubb has announced a cool three-part webinar series entitled If I were to start an MSP again: The 3 Steps Successful MSPs implement in Operations.

This webinar series is in association with Kaseya and kicks off tomorrow!

Tuesday
May 22nd
1500 BST

Which is like 10 AM Eastern
or maybe 7 AM Pacific

Note: Once you register, you should get a calendar note with the correct local time for you.

- - - - -

From Richard's Announcement:

It’s a series of three webinars that I’m *really* excited about and I hope you can join me for!

An intriguing question I’ve been asked by a lot of IT Solution Provider and Managed Service Provider (MSP) owners in the past few months is “If you were to start an MSP again, what would you do about…” operations/sales/marketing/working with partners/everything else!

I love answering the question, and so when, Kaseya, a market leader in IT management software, asked me if I’d be interested in joining them for a series of practical, MSP-focused webinars, Kaseya agreed that it would be a great topic to cover!

The 3 Steps Successful MSPs implement in Operations
The first webinar in our series will focus on making your MSP service desk run more efficiently and smoothly, or as I like to say, “How to run your Service Desk while retaining your sanity!”

All three of the webinars will be very interactive presentations containing practical, real-world, applicable tips on how you can run a great MSP business in today’s business environment.

I’m delighted to be joined by Jim Lippie, General Manager of Cloud Computing at Kaseya. Jim has helped hundreds of MSPs worldwide increase their sales and profitability. He’s the perfect host for this webinar!

If you were to start an MSP again, what would you do about Operations?

Register for the Webinar here: http://info.kaseya.com/richard-tubb-msp-operations.html

This series of webinars are free to attend, and even if you can’t make the live events, you should register to be sent details of the on-demand recording.

- - - - -

Note: You can always follow Richard at http://www.tubblog.co.uk - and you should!

Enjoy!
:-)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Deep Work - Stay Focused!

I'm about halfway through Deep Work by Cal Newport. Really great book.

I love the whole concept of Deep Work versus shallow work. Too many people no longer manage to work deeply. Deep Work refers to totally immersed, focused attention.

Of course this fits perfectly with my personal mission to avoid distractions. Our society (and especially our technology) are 100% geared toward distractions. We fool ourselves into thinking we are more productive when we divide our attention more and more.

Most people actually feel nervous and anxious if you force them to turn off their phone, turn off Facebook, turn off email, and so forth. All of those things can give us a dopamine buzz, but that just feels good - it's not productive!

Ten years ago, the common advice was that you should not leave your laptop plugged in all the time because the battery would wear out sooner (This is less true with newer technology.). What happened when you never let the battery wear down is that it developed a "memory" that it only needed to charge a little bit. So when you finally did unplug the laptop, the batter wore out fast because it never got a deep charge.

Your attention span is the same way. Sometimes you need to sit in a distraction free environment in order to let your brain learn how to operate without the distractions. But those distractions are counter-productive. Quiet and solitude are much more productive.

Many people self-diagnose themselves as ADD or ADHD because they can't stand doing nothing, or doing only one thing at a time. They like the feeling of bouncing from one thing to another. In most cases, this simply amounts to the fact that they have lost the ability to sit quietly because they haven't practiced that skill.

I can't count how many people have told me that they can't meditate or they can't sit quietly in a chair for ten minutes.

Being calm and focused takes practice. You are always going to bad at all the things you don't practice. I've taken music lessons and singing lessons. And on a good day I can find middle C on a piano. Basically, I've never put in the practice it takes to learn these things.

And this is not about being quiet for quiet's sake. Absolute high-level focus makes you more productive. It just does. Yes, it takes practice, but the rewards are spectacular. When you look at the most productive people you know, you'll find that they are experienced at turning off distractions and focusing on one thing at a time.

Note: This will irritate many of your friends. Why didn't you text me back? Are you ignoring me? I want 100% of your attention instantly at any time of the day or night.

. . . Seems kind of unreasonable when you put it that way. But it's true. The rest of the world is more interested in interrupting you all the time than they are in your success. Only you can control this. You have to set the limits. And you have to start developing the habits of reducing distractions and indulging in super-productive, super-focused work.

Comments welcome.

:-)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Help Your Clients with Facebook Breach

One of the things your clients look to you for is security - whatever form that takes.

I have a blog dedicated to end users. It's called Consultant or Amateur. It's designed to be a place that gives advice to end-users AND as a place you can point your clients and say, "See. This guy's telling you the same thing I'm telling you."



I just posted a click-by-click article on how to download and extract your data from Facebook. The idea is to help folks take this seriously - and clean up the stuff they don't want associated with their profile.

If you are not currently helping your clients manage their social media presence, you might consider that service. If nothing else, this breach should give you a new slide to put in your standard security presentation.

Use it as you see fit.

:-)


New Audio Download: Weed Your Client Garden

New Audio program:

Weed Your Client Garden and Grow Your Profits

Can you really grow your business by getting rid of clients? Absolutely! In this 35 minute audio presentation, I provide a very practical guide to increasing your revenue – and your profits – by getting rid of clients who take more than they give.

Learn several very practical strategies to transform your business by trading your lowest-paying clients for larger clients - without losing any money. In fact, there are several practical practices to help you increase profits without having to hire more technicians.

This is an all-new audio program. I have been talking about "Weeding your client garden" for more than ten years. Here's a quick (35 minute)  presentation. The download includes a worksheet for evaluating clients - as explained in the audio program.

Package includes: Audio MP3, presentation slides in PDF format, Worksheet for client evaluations.

On sale right now at SMB Books. Only . . . are you ready for this? $9.95 !!!

:-)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

True Story - The Frozen Backup

This is a true story. It happened about 2008. It happened with one of our non-profit association clients, the Assault Awareness Association (AAA).

At this particular office, the backup system was a DAT tape drive. In case you're not familiar, the DAT tape cartridges are just a couple inches wide. We always tried to create backup systems so that a full backup fit onto one cartridge.

That way, we didn't have to rely on humans to remember to put in a second tape in the morning and then swap tapes again in the afternoon. One tape per day. One full backup per tape.

We also had a tape rotation system that dramatically improved the reliability of restores if need be. Generally speaking, we tried to keep about ten tapes in rotation, and remove one from the rotation permanently at the end of the month. That way, we had several restore points and twelve "permanent" offsite restore points in case we had to go back more than a few weeks.

I'm glad that the days of tape backup for the smallest businesses are behind us. Too many opportunities for human error (designing the backup system, implementing it, running it every day, testing it). It's also slow.

BUT I am a huge fan of tape. As I've always said, it is the most reliable and robust backup you will ever find. Tape is nearly indestructible. At the end of the day, tape isn't the problem: People are the problem.

Anyway . . .

One day the server crashed at AAA. I forget all the details, but we had to restore from backup. Lisa, the office manager, had been given the task of taking tapes home every night for safe storage. And, at the end of the month, she took one offsite for permanent storage. Of course these were all labeled.

My faith in our backup systems is absolute. We've never failed to restore 99-100% of the data from a backup that we designed, implemented, and maintained. So I was very confident when I told Lisa, "Remember all those tapes you've been taking home? This is the day we need them. Please go bring in every tape from the last year."

We did whatever we needed to do to prep the server so we could restore from tape and Lisa went home to get the tapes. She brought them to us in a one-gallon zip-lock baggie.

It was dripping water. The bag had water on the inside. All the tapes were wet!

I asked what happened. She said that she knew they were important and she stored them with all of her most important documents - in the freezer!!!

Okay. You gotta work with what you have.

So, we opened the door on each cartridge and shook out as much water as we could. Then we laid them out on paper towels. And tried to read the smeared labels. We put them in the best chronological order we could.

The plan was pretty simple:

1) Remove the tape drive so that it's connected but physically outside the server. That way, water inside the drive will stay inside the drive.

2) Restore as much data as we could.

3) Order a new (and larger capacity) tape drive.

4) Find a better place to store backup tapes.

The result: 100% success! The client lost work from the day of the crash, but we recovered 100% of the data from the wet backup tapes.

I swear: True story, except the names were changed.

Lesson learned: Improve our training process with regard to offsite storage of backups. You can never guess what clients are going to do, so remove as much ambiguity as you can from every process they're involved in.

And of course this improved our training across all other clients as well.

We created a one-time task of finding out where all of our clients were actually putting those take-home tapes. Some of them needed to make changes. No one else was keeping them in the freezer.

:-)

Rethinking My Money Back Guarantee

Since day one, I've had a simple money-back guarantee. I want my customers to be happy. I want them to come back again and again.

But now I need to put some limits on that, and I need your feedback.

My no-questions-asked guarantee was based on two things:

1) I always try to give more value than the cost of the product/service.

2) I assume buyers are good, honest people who are sincerely trying to improve their businesses.

I also try to make sure that people don't feel ripped off when I release a new product. When I release a new edition of a book, I give the new edition to people for free if they bought the old edition within the last several months. In other words, I do business the way I would want to be treated.

Every once in awhile, someone will contact me and say that a product is too simple or too advanced for them. Generally, these folks have purchased a book or a class. And of course I am happy to refund their money.

But on rare occasions I have someone who just plain wants to rip me off. This normally takes a simple form: They buy a huge bundle, log on, download everything, and immediately ask for a refund. This all takes place within an hour and involves over 1,000 pages of downloads.

In my opinion, these people are just plain thieves. They clearly see value in the products but have not had the time to evaluate or implement anything.

Recently, I had someone request a refund after five months. They took two classes, downloaded thousands of pages of downloads, and then waited five months and asked for their money back. This is probably someone who is failing at their business and has not implemented any advice. So the good news (if there is any) is that they are not able to get value from the materials. In that sense, a refund is legitimate, if not timely.

This is particularly irritating for me because I've already paid taxes on this sale from last year.

You may have heard that LL Bean had to rethink their return policy because people abused it. Well, in the last year I have felt very abused. I don't think my products have gone down hill. But abusive returns have certainly gone up.


What Do You Think?

I really want to be fair. But what's fair? I don't want to create a complicated set of rules. I really do want to allow refunds where people simply don't find value in my products. But I have been ripped off several times in the last month - to the tune of several thousand dollars.

Maybe I should feel grateful that my material is worth stealing. :-)

Here are some things I am considering:

1) All returns must be within _____30_____ days of purchase.

2) Physical books must be returned in good, resellable condition. Buyer pays for return shipping.

3) Once the downloadable content of a product has been downloaded, the merchandise is not returnable.

4) Online classes are refundable until the last day of class.


As always, I appreciate your feedback.

Thank you for your support!

:-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Most Important Checklists for Any I.T. Service Provider - Class Starts April 24th!

Next 5-Week Live Class starts April 24th:

The Most Important Checklists for Any I.T. Service Provider


Taught by Karl Palachuk and Manuel Palachuk, Authors and Coaches

- Five Tuesdays - April 24 - May 22, 2018 - Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

- - - - -

In addition to building hundreds of checklists and standard processes for KPEnterprises in Sacramento, CA, the authors have both written books, trained individuals, and coached teams on successful processes and habits for running a modern, successful managed service business.

Checklists are critically important to creating SOPs - Standard Operating Procedures - for your company.

This course is intended for managers and owners of a managed service business. It covers many facets of the "checklist mentality" that the instructors have used at a variety of successful I.T. consulting businesses.

This course will cover daily the use of checklists in daily operations as well as the "larger picture" of running the entire company. It will address both internal checklists for running your own company and external checklists for managing client relationships and client technology.

This is an intensive live webinar course over a five week period. All assignments are voluntary, of course. But if you want feedback on assignments, please complete assignments during this course and email them to the instructor.


Delivered by Karl Palachuk and Manuel Palachuk, authors of the Network Migration Workbook and many other books for MSPs - managed service providers.

Includes five weeks of webinar classes with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.




A Few Details . . .

Each course will be five webinar classes (50-60 minutes each)
There will be handouts and "homework" assignments
If you wish to receive feedback on your assignments, there will be instructor office hours
Class calls will be recorded and made available to paid attendees only.
All calls start at 9:00 AM Pacific Time

Week by Week Overview of the Course
  1. Week 1: What is a Checklist / Sample: Daily Backup Monitoring and Maintenance
  2. Week 2: Employee Hiring Process / Exit Process
  3. Week 3: New Client On-boarding / Client Off-boarding / Quarterly Client Roadmap
  4. Week 4:  Monthly Maintenance Checklist / New PC Checklist
  5. Week 5:  New Server Build / Class Summary

Sample Handouts for this course:
  • Class Syllabus
  • Slides from all classes
  • MPI Checklist Template
  • MPI Doc with TOC Template
  • NMW Discovery Checklist
  • NMW Remote Workstation Migration
  • How To Document Any Process White Paper by Manuel Palachuk
  • Personnel Folders
  • New Hire Checklist
  • Hiring Folder (ZIP)
  • Employee Goals Template
  • Employee Evaluation Template
  • Client Onboard Checklist
  • Client Removal Checklist
  • Roadmap Questionnaire
  • Roadmap Template
  • Roadmap Meeting Notes Template
  • Monthly Maintenance Checklist
  • New Workstation Checklist
  • New User Checklist
  • Welcome New Employee Orientation
  • Server Build Checklist
  • Troubleshooting and Repair Log
  • Time Stamp Version Standards
:-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why I Started a Second Managed Service Business

Mauricio asked me a question no one ever asked me before. He attended my roadshow and sent me this note:

"Thank you for having us, we really appreciate all the information you provided us definitely planning on utilizing the information as soon as we get back into town. , looking forward to attending more of your shows.
Just out of curiosity; you mention you sold your manage service company twice, Why would you sell a business that is making you money and then start all over again?"
Selling the first business (KPEnterprises) had a lot to do with a personal "perfect storm" involving the recession and a divorce. My service manager, Mike, was spectacular at executing my SOPs as outlined in my books. He bought the company (now America's Tech Support) and kept me on as a coach/adviser/manager/etc. I did a lot of client relationship work, ran some major projects, and helped with client roadmap meetings.

When Mike sold the business two years later, I no longer had any connection to it. Many former clients contacted me for help. Some literally begged me to come back. When one of them had a huge system-wide failure due to firewall update, I jumped in to help.

That's when I realized that I could create an even MORE profitable business. All I had to do was wait until my absolute "A" clients from back in the day contacted me. One by one I took on a handful of truly perfect clients. They all took my advice, spent whatever I asked them to spend, trusted me, held roadmap meetings, paid their bills on time, and so forth.

I literally created a small sized but hugely profitable company with only perfect clients.

I had one part-time tech and an administrative assistant who split time between that business and Great Little Book, my publishing business. All in all, it was a pretty sweet operation. We operated out of my house and it was a pretty easy, low-maintenance company.

But . . . I realized that I was not making the kind of progress I wanted to make on publishing new books. And I wanted to hit the road almost non-stop in 2017. So, with heavy heart, I decided to give up being a managed service provider (or working in a MS business).

My friend Tom bought the business and I introduced him around. He kept me around as extra help on an "as needed" basis. I've been called into a couple strategy meetings. But he's doing a great job taking care of my clients.

I ended December 2016 with a week in Hawaii with my daughter. I started January 2017 with a week in Key West. Then I hit the road for the big 2017 SMB Roadshow. In addition to speaking in almost three dozen cities, I managed to put out two books last year.

If I can just take time to sit at my keyboard, I hope to have at least one or two new books out this year. I have five books in the works right now (ALL new books - not second or third editions). I love writing and I am worried that I'll get old and die before I finish I the books I need to get out of my head.

I hope that answers the question.

Side note: I have a secret master plan that has been brewing for years. Step One was to create the four-volume set of SOPs. Step Two was to update the Service Agreements book as well as Managed Services in a Month. With those books all out, I felt I had a large enough "body" of work to make Step Three a reality.

Ruben, my web guy, is actively working on Step Three. It's been years in the making, so I'm going to be patient enough to make sure it's right before I let anyone see it.

More questions welcome.

:-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ziften Launches Partner Program to Increase Channel Partners' Strategic Value to Customers

I received this press release and was asked to hold until today. If you have relevant news for the SMB IT community, please let me know.

- - - - -

Ziften Launches Partner Program to Increase Channel Partners' Strategic Value to Customers 


Tiered global channel partner program delivers increased financial incentives, partner- focused enablement programs and support for increasing global growth initiatives

AUSTIN, TEXAS – April 10, 2018 — Ziften, the leading provider of all-the-time visibility and control for client devices, servers, and cloud VMs, today announced a new channel partner program to enable resellers and distributors to deliver global endpoint and cloud security solutions to customers. The program, called the Ziften Activate Partner ProgramTM, is designed to empower the Ziften partner community, ensure that partners have the resources they need to successfully sell Ziften’s security solutions, while underscoring a commitment to joint business objectives—growing the customer base and increasing market share.

Also, the recent addition of Greg McCreight as Ziften’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channel Sales highlights the company’s strong commitment to this program and the success of the partner network.

“The introduction of the Activate Partner Program highlights Ziften’s commitment to the channel and makes it easier for us to grow the business of our mutual channel partners, said Donald Scott, Sr. Manager Emerging Vendor Initiative, Advanced Solutions, Ingram Micro U.S. “As one of Ziften’s preferred distribution partners with specialization in IT security, Ingram Micro is uniquely positioned to work with Ziften to provide enablement and support for this growing partner network and bring more value to our customers.”

Having achieved strong market momentum with the launch of its Zenith security platform in February 2017 and announcing a strategic business and technology collaboration with Microsoft in November, the Activate Partner Program supports Ziften’s growth of a worldwide partner network.

Program benefits include incentives and resources, including access to innovative technology and expertise, offered with the Activate program to help partners increase their revenue in some of the industry’s fastest growing markets. The new program includes:

  • Rich financial incentives that encourage long-term reseller investment and reward on- going success. 
  • Market development assistance and funds available to drive incremental demand and lead generation. 
  • World-class, hands-on support from Ziften field sales, sales engineers, technical support, and marketing experts. 

     
“Ziften is 100% committed to building our channel partner relationships as a foundational component of our company’s growth, and this new partner program is a proof of that commitment,” said Greg McCreight, SVP of Worldwide Channels, Ziften. “The Activate Partner Program combines our successful security solutions, financial investments, and hands-on assistance to help partners create more opportunity and close more deals creating mutual growth.”

About Ziften:

Ziften delivers all-the-time visibility and control for any asset, anywhere - client devices, servers, and cloud VMs – whether on-network or remote; connected or not. Our unified systems and security operations (SysSecOps) platform empowers IT and security operations teams to quickly repair user impacting endpoint issues, reduce their overall risk posture, speed security threat response, and increase operations productivity. Ziften’s secure architecture delivers continuous, streaming endpoint monitoring and historical data collection for large and mid- sized enterprises, governments, and managed security service providers (MSSP). And Ziften helps extend the value of incumbent tools, and fill the gaps between fragmented, siloed systems.

https://ziften.com

Ziften Media Contact: 
Zonic Group Public Relations
Gregory Cross


Monday, April 09, 2018

Presenting "Weeding Your Client Garden" at SMB Techfest April 19th

I love SMB Techfest - and you can attend for free on me. Just head to

www.smbtechfest.com/karl

April 19th - Anaheim, CA

to get your free pass. Doesn't work in Chrome, so use another browser.

- - - - -
Farmer Out Standing In His Field

I have long advocated weeding your client garden. That is, improving your business and profits by strategically firing specific clients. There are several pieces of this strategy. You can't just fire a bunch of clients.

For the first time ever, I am delivering a full-length presentation specifically on the topic of weeding your client garden. There are several different ways to do this, each designed to mold your clientele into the kind of companies you want to work with.

- - - - -

I'm also doing three super-quick ten minute presentations on other topics.

If you haven't been to a Techfest, please do yourself a favor and join us April 19th in Anaheim - or online.

Lots more info at www.smbtechfest.com/karl.


:-)