Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Note to Our Friends in the UK and EU about Brexit and Our Supply Chain

I feel absurdly "corporate" having to write this notice. I will repeat it in my newsletter.

This note applies to all our our friends in the European Union and, to a lesser extent, the UK.

If the British Parliament does nothing, Britain will "crash out" of the EU on March 31st. As a result, our printers and shippers will be governed (to the best of our knowledge) by the trade rules of the World Trade Organisation.

Of course, any agreements or individual rules or laws by any affected nation will supersede the WTO rules. Right now, we are proceeding as if there will be no change and that Britain will Brexit with a crash.

To the best of our knowledge, here's how Brexit will affect book purchases from Small Biz Thoughts and SMB Books (www.smbbooks.com):


If you are in the UK:

- If you order directly from us, we will print books in England and ship them within England. We do not know how shipping prices will be affected, but book delivery will continue as normal. Expect delays at least through the end of April.

- If you order from Amazon or other online stores: You should see no changes, although there may be delays as Amazon and others determine their supply chain changes. Our best guess is that book delivery will continue as normal.  Expect delays at least through the end of April.


If you are in the rest of the EU:

- If you order directly from us, we will print books in Germany and ship them within the EU. We do not know how shipping prices will be affected, but book delivery will continue as normal. Expect delays at least through the end of April.

- If you order from Amazon or other online stores: You should see no changes, although there may be delays as Amazon and others determine their supply chain changes. Our best guess is that book delivery will continue as normal. Expect delays at least through the end of April.


Supply Chain Note

Wherever books are printed, our attempt will always be to minimize taxes and import fees. Having said that, paper, ink, glue, and other materials related to book production may cross international boundaries more than once in the production of books.

As a result, the cost of production will be affected. Supply chains may move, affecting costs again. In the best case scenario, we expect the changes to come in waves as various pieces of the supply chain figure out the best processes for supplying quality merchandise at a reasonable price.

We are in the odd position of having no control over any piece of the production except the final cost. So . . .


We Are Freezing Prices

We will probably lose money on certain purchases during the transition to a more stable business environment, but we simply cannot change prices every week in response to whatever is going on in the market. 

Therefore, we are freezing prices on all books in the EU and UK until everything settles down. I expect this will be at least four or five months. 

Once we believe things have settled down and we know what our new cost of production and shipping will be, we will adjust prices. In a perfect world, they will stay the same. But I certainly can't promise that.

Note also that we have no control over Amazon's pricing or shipping policies. Freezing our pricing at the print level affects one piece of their pricing model. Everything else is in just as much flux as the rest of the supply chain.


Consider an E-Book

Whether it's Kindle, Audible, or a PDF from our web site, please consider an electronic version of the book. While some taxes for online purchase might change, the product will remain exactly the same, and delivery will continue to be instantaneous.

As always, I thank you for your support over the years. This is just another little bump along the way.

If I can ever be of assistance, please let me know.

Cheers to all!
- Karl W. Palachuk
- President, Great Little Book Publishing Co., Inc. 
   dba Small Biz Thoughts

:-)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Never Lose Money on a Project Again - Class Starts March 19th

Highly Successful Project Management

Taught by Karl W. Palachuk, Author and Coach

- Five Tuesdays - March 19 - April 16, 2019 -- Register Now!

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

This course will cover the most important aspects of project management for small business. It is intended for computer consultants, VARs, and managed service providers. Whether you sell projects on a Time-and-Materials basis or flat fee, it is critical to manage them successfully. Successful projects are more than simply profitable. Successful projects make you look good. They make the client more productive and potentially more profitable. They help you build a positive relationship.

Tuition includes the book in PDF format along with all associated downloads.

This course is intended for consultants who are new to project management as well as those who have been running projects for years and would like to take a serious step up to a the next level of professionalism and profitability.

This is an intensive 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.

Topics to be presented include:


  • Different kinds of project management; What’s best for this job?
  • Tools to Use for managing your projects
  • Documentation at all stages
  •  - Pre-Discovery Process
  •  - The Discovery Process
  •  - Documentation and Communication
  • After the Project
  • Checklists of all kinds
  • Project Planning, Quoting, and Selling
  • Why Projects Go Wrong
  • The Scope is Everything
  • Closed Loop Project Management
  • How an Ant Eats an Elephant
  • Managing Projects in Your PSA
  • Microsoft Project
  • Client Training
  • The Evaluation Process
  • Managing Time / Managing Employees
  • Outsourcing Options
  • Creating Repeatable, Successful Projects
  • Building an Action Plan that works



Overview of the Course

  • Week One:     Introduction / Setting the Stage
  • Week Two:     Project Planning, Quoting, Selling
  • Week Three:   Closed Loop Execution
  • Week Four:     Repeatable Success
  • Week Five:      Implementing Your PM Process


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 sales@smallbizthoughts.com 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Six-Part Video Series - Tune Up Your Service Board

Just finished posting part six of a six-part series on tuning up your service board.

Here's a quick summary:

Part 1 = How Tickets Get Into the System

Part 2 = Creating the Most Useful View of Your Board

Part 3 = The Flow of Tickets Based on Statuses

Part 4 = How to Make Sure Tickets Don't Get Lost

Part 5 = Make Sure Ticket Are Closed - Properly

Part 6 = Once Your Board is Set up Properly, You Need 
Processes to Keep it Working


Theoretically, YouTube will play each of these in order if you start with the first one. But I can't guarantee what they do, so here's the whole series you can click on individually.

Many people buy a service board and then don't get the amazing value they could - and often for some very simple reasons. They might have too many statuses to choose from, the flow of tickets through their system is poorly defined, or they don't have good practices to make sure it all works properly.

No software will make your company run more smoothly unless you configure it, fine-tune it, and keep an eye on your processes. So don't just invest in the software: Invest in your process as well.


Video #1:


As always, feedback is welcome.

:-)

Friday, March 01, 2019

Move Yourself and Your Clients to Managed Service – 3 Week Mini Class

This post is for everyone who is having trouble getting your break/fix clients over to managed service.

I did a webinar yesterday with Zyxel and LOTS of people had questions, including several on this exact question. How do I get my break/fix client to sign a managed service contract??? 

I also just completed a "Community Meeting" in my membership community last week in which we spent time on this very topic.

So I've decided to create a 3-part mini class on moving YOU and your clients to managed services. This class is 100% focused on getting you and your clients into the managed service model.

Please note: You have to change. You can't ask your client to change but keep giving them old stuff. If they're happy now, why would they change?

There are several reasons that B/F clients don't want to sign your managed service deal.

First of all, there are many myths about managed services. What it is. What it means. What's included. etc.

Second, many IT consultants aren’t really offering managed services. They are trying to shift the invoicing model without shifting the business model.

And third, it’s almost impossible to move clients directly from break/fix to managed services.

There are lots of smaller reasons. But those are the main ones.

In this class, we will:
  • Debunk the myths of break/fix and managed services
  • Show you (and help you calculate for yourself) why break fix will keep you struggling
  • Define very clearly what we mean by managed services
  • Lay out a maintenance program that makes sense to B/F clients
  • Show you the “Managed Services Two-Step” that moves YOU from B/F to to managed services
  • Show you the “Managed Services Two-Step” that moves your clients from B/F to managed services
And of course, we’ll have homework that will help you move in the right direction AND lots of time for questions.

– – –

B/F to MS Mini Class – Instructor: Karl W. Palachuk
– Three Days: March 11, 18, and 25

– All classes are recorded

– Classes are generally 30-60 minutes

This class is FREE for Small Biz Thoughts Community members.
Only $99 for non-members - still a great deal!



Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mini-Microsoft Inspire Inspired Event: IAMCP Party - SoCal

My friends in the SoCal IAMCP (International Association of Microsoft Certified Professionals [or something like that]) are holding a big party - and you're invited.

The SoCal chapter is the largest and probably the most active IAMCP chapter. Among their regulars is Justin Slagle from Microsoft. And they've decided to put on a major Microsoft event.

October 24th
Irvine, CA

Info and registration at: iamcpparty.com


My friend Reza described this event as a "mini-Microsoft Inspire type of event."

Speakers include big time Microsoft  execs such as


  • Gavriella Schuster -Worldwide Corporate Vice President, Microsoft
  • Brent Combest - US General Manager, Microsoft
  • Beth Cavanaugh - National Partner Sales Director, Microsoft


. . . plus many other great speakers.


Oh yeah. They're also giving away a Car (Robin Robin’s style)!

If you register in the next few days (by the end of February) using code IAMCP49, you will save $200 from the listed attendee price.

The base price is only $249. But you'll bring that down to $49 if you register NOW.

More info at https://iamcpparty.com.

:-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

It's Not Too Late to Move from Break/Fix to MSP - Webinar Feb. 28th

Join me.

If you've been on the fence for years, I'll bet that hurts a lot. Let us help.

Free Webinar: Move from Break/Fix to MSP - Feb 28th

It is absolutely NOT too late to become a Managed Service Provider!

Join me February 28th at 11 AM Pacific for a free webinar on making the move to managed service.


Join me and Zyxel for a free webinar on making the move to managed service.

Register Now

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 show you how to make the move from Break/Fix to Managed Services.

All attendees will receive a copy of my book Managed Services in a Month as well as my new condensed 10 page guide. And, every attendee will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Plus one lucky attendee will win a $1,000 gift card!

Zyxel has some pretty cool new products, and we'll also learn about Zyxel's Nebula Cloud Management Solution from Shawn Rogers, Market Development Manager for Zyxel Communications, Inc.

Please join us for a great event!



:-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

CompTIA Webinar - The Gap: Women in Cybersecurity - Feb 19th

I am registered. You should check it out!

Got a note from Kathleen over at Comptia:
"The apprenticeship programs from the Dept of Labor are a great resource for our community and the IT security community to leverage. If you are looking to hire tech talent, especially in cybersecurity, then you need to hear this information." 

The Gap: Women in Cybersecurity
February 19, 2019 1:00 PM
1pm Ct / 2pm ET

Participants can register herehttps://www.comptia.org/events/view/the-gap-women-in-cybersecurity

Opportunities abound in the cybersecurity arena yet only 14 percent of the current U.S. workforce in cybersecurity is female. We will review the current state of the gender gap in cybersecurity and hear from Jennifer Carlson with the US Department of Labor to discuss how to get more women into this field through apprenticeship programs.

During this webinar we will review how to begin an apprenticeship program, how to increase the visibility of your current program, and how to engage with programs that are available today. Don’t miss out on this informative and educational session that is designed to shine the light on the gender gap in IT security and how you can be part of the solution.

Participants can register here: https://www.comptia.org/events/view/the-gap-women-in-cybersecurity

Side note: This will be a topic of discussion at the joint AWIT/IT Security meeting at the Comptia Community Forums in March. (AWIT = Advancing Women in IT.)

See you there.

:-)

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Live in Atlanta - Making Money in 2019! - March 5th

Live in-person meeting of the Small Biz Thoughts Community

Unique content, not available anywhere else.

Only $99  for non-members! (Free to members)

We are not holding “Roadshows” in 2019. Instead, we are holding a handful of Community Meetings. These are meetings filled with content and 100% focused on improving your IT Consulting business.

Each meeting starts with a keynote presentation by me. After that, we will enjoy content from several special guests, including Amy Babinchak, Harry Brelsford, Jennifer Fields, Joshua Liberman, Amy Luby, Manuel Palachuk, Erick Simpson, and others.

Topic:
Making Money in 2019

Details on the SMB Roadshow web site.

Don’t be left behind.

Members – Please register so we have an accurate count. You’ll find a code in the SBT Community Forums (Karl’s Korner / Freebies, Deals, etc.) that takes the price from $99 to Free.

Community Members: Grab your discount code here.

Everyone: Atlanta – March 5th – Register here

Watch the Invitation Video!




Register now – in Association with ChannelPro.
Your registration includes FREE access to the ChannelPro SMB Forum March 6th!

AGENDA
8:30 AM Gather and Networking
9:00 AM – The day begins!


  • Karl’s Keynote – Welcome to the Exponential Century
  • Amy Babinchak – Technical Skillsets You Need for the 2020’s
  • Manuel Palachuk – Agile – The New Method and Metrics For Service Delivery
  • Jennifer Fields – Power Marketing – List Building, Telemarketing, and Implementation
  • Harry Brelsford – Five Steps to Implementing Analytics in an MSP Practice
  • Erick Simpson – Get a Grip on Your Business
  • Community Leaders Panel / Community Meeting


We plan to finish around 5 PM.

NOTE: There’s a ChannelPro cocktail reception afterward.


Meeting Space Info:
Atlanta Marriott Century Center/Emory Area
2000 Century Boulevard NE
Atlanta, GA 30345

Gather at 8:30 AM for registration and networking. Seminar starts at 9:00 AM sharp!

:-)

Friday, February 08, 2019

MSP Makeover: Win A Day with Harry Brelsford

Super opportunity from SMB Super-Consultant Harry B!

Harry Brelsford - Always combining fun and business!
I was delighted to get an email from Harry announcing a very cool opportunity. Harry is offering an MSP Makeover for one lucky company. Here's the info.

- This is a contest. No cost to enter.

- Harry will travel at his expense to the winner's office.

- Harry will give you feedback and advice to improve your business. Plus, you know, you get to spend a day with Harry at your office.

I asked Harry how he came up with this. He said, "Our studies showed that a contest needs to consider a prize with a real impact. While cruises are always welcome by nearly anyone, the feedback was, can Harry deliver his SMB Best Practices workshop on-site to move the revenue needle? MSPs are serious about growing their businesses and when possible, want a serious prize. The fun will follow the riches at a later date."

Harry is refreshing his Brelsford Rules of 12 methodology for this event. Some of you know that he wrote a truly great book on SMB Consulting Best Practices awhile back. Harry is also leaving plenty of unstructured time built into the day to provide customized advisory services. One example he mentioned was perhaps taking a look at mergers and acquisitions, if appropriate.

Speaking for myself – it’s the one prize I can easily give – my time. But you have to complete the steps and have allow us to help you by helping us by completing the research survey and post a biz selfie to the SMB Nation page on FB. Who said we can’t have just a wee bit of fun too?!?!

Note: Harry is teaming up with community sponsor SherWeb to deliver real value for the MSP community.


The contest is simple. Just submit the MSP Survey HERE.

Then submit a "business selfie" to the SMB Nation Facebook Page HERE.
(You have to like the page to submit a pic.)

And that's it - you're entered. Contest drawing will be on Friday, March 1 at 12:00 pm Pacific.

- - - - -

I want to send a big thank you and shout-out to Harry for doing this. I am always grateful when someone comes up with a new way to support the SMB IT Community! Good job, Harry!

You can find SMB Nation at www.smbnation.com.

:-)

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Join Me at IT Owners Compass - Chicago April 26-28

Join me at
IT Owner's Compass

Chicago
April 26-28

More info at https://itocompass.com/

This is going to be a great conference! There's a great collection of speakers on a wide variety of topics. See the speakers page: https://itocompass.com/speakers/.

This event starts with a cocktail reception, followed by three days of meetings, presentations, and panel discussions.

I'm giving the keynote speech, and planning to hang out for the whole event. Luckily, I know a lot of the people who are presenting. But there are plenty of others I haven't met yet.

I'm working to get organizer Lori Tisinai on the SMB Community Podcast. Stay tuned for that!



Special Offer:

I am offering a $100 scholarship to any woman who is a first-time attendee of this conference. Contact the organizers to claim your registration discount.

I was very impressed that about 25% of last year's attendees were women. We absolutely need more women in IT. And attending professional events is a great way to get started.

Overall, the pricing for this three-day event is VERY reasonable. Please join us.

:-)

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Massive Coaching Mastermind – Sacramento – March 29th

Join me for a great all-day event!

I am hosting an all-day Massive Coaching Mastermind event at the end of March in Sacramento, CA.

Here’s the basic timing:


  • Fly / Travel on Thursday, March 28th
  • We’ll gather for drinks and networking Thursday evening



  • Mastermind Breakfast on Friday, March 29th
  • Meet / Mastermind 9AM to 9PM (includes all meals)


Price includes two hotel nights – March 28th and 29th – and all meals Friday. So plan to travel Thursday and then you’re on your own when you wake up Saturday. Weather is normally around 70+ degrees Fahrenheit in Sacramento at that time.

If you want to bring your family and wander off to Napa wine country, Yosemite, or other Northern California adventures, the weather should be perfect.

This event is strictly limited to TEN participants.

Non-members will pay $1999* each. This price includes one year membership in the Small Biz Thoughts Community.

Members pay only $999* each.

Go Here to get the member discount code.

then

Click here to register.

Your satisfaction is guaranteed! If you don’t get enough value from this event to improve your business significantly, I’ll refund your money.

I’ve lined up some amazing speakers/trainers to help you spend the whole day grabbing a hold of your business and moving it up a notch. Then we’re going to focus on YOUR business and help you brainstorm ways to solve your biggest challenges.

This is an all-day working day for your business.

Part of the reason I included nights is so everyone can get to know each other the evening before, and start fresh in the morning. Also, it’s nice if everyone stays until the end. My goal is to create a whole experience.

* Price includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and “breaks” on Friday. Includes hotel room Thursday night and Friday night.

* Price does not include airfare, additional hotel nights, hotel upgrades, guests, spouses, family accommodations, bail, or other expenses.

Questions? Email me or leave in the comments section below!

:-)

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

The ASCII Group Celebrates 35th Anniversary

Congratulations to my good friends over at The ASCII Group!

I received this press release announcing their 35th Anniversary. Amazing.

If you're in the area, Join me at the ASCII Success Summit Feb. 20-21 in Garden Grove, CA!


Bethesda, Maryland – February 5, 2019 --  The ASCII Group is proud to announce it has reached an exciting milestone as the company celebrates 35 years of providing a membership-based community to North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers. Through ASCII membership, IT business owners have access to preferred pricing, networking opportunities with fellow professionals, exposure to the latest technology and more, as well as significant operating cost reductions.

The ASCII Group began operations in 1984 when Alan D. Weinberger, the company’s Chairman and CEO, founded the company in a Washington D.C. suburb along with 40 ex-franchisees of a software chain.  “I took a step back in the early 1980s at the start of the IT revolution and was able to reflect on the specialized, educated individuals who were driving the revolution by implementing the final solutions of new software and services, rather than just the computer retail giants or a few large vendors.” 

Recognizing a need to provide business tools for growth to like-minded IT professionals was the company’s founding principle three decades ago, and remains the same today. Led by its original founding executive, Weinberger, The ASCII Group continues to be committed to providing MSPs with a united, trusted community alongside programs, services and opportunities. With a consistent focus on meeting the needs of its members, the company’s programs and offerings have greatly expanded as the Channel has evolved, and all new technologies require learning and expertise.

“We joined ASCII in 1988 in order to join the group buy discounts with distributors and have been members ever since!  ASCII continues to save us money on our purchases but also adds so many more benefits with business support, technology education, knowledge sharing and peer networking.  It’s wonderful to be part of an organization that puts the interest of its members first and continues to promote our importance in the industry,” said Chip Evans, President, Computerware, Inc., and member of The ASCII Group since 1988.

Jerry Koutavas, President, The ASCII Group, added, “For 35 years our mission has always been to help independent IT companies collaborate, learn, and become more efficient.  We are very proud to have made a difference in the success of so many businesses, and we look forward to continuing to provide new services to help MSPs.”

Over the last five years, ASCII has experienced significant growth within North America, driven by strong member retention and remaining vendor neutral. The ASCII team has also been recognized for a number of industry accolades including CRN’s Women of the Channel, ChannelPro’s Silver Readers’ Choice Award for Best IT Community, and CompTIA’s Channel Changer 2018.

The ASCII Group will commemorate the occasion throughout the next twelve months and an anniversary celebration will be held at its IT Success Summit in Washington, D.C.  For more details on all of ASCII’s IT Success Summits, visit www.asciievents.com 
About The ASCII Group, Inc:

The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers. The Group has over 1,300 members located throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national and international reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more.  ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.

-30-

Class Starts Feb. 12th: Service Agreements for SMB Consultant - Applying the Book

All About Service Agreements for I.T. Consultants

(Service Agreements for SMB Consultants - Applying the Book)

Next Offering:

- Five Tuesdays - February 12 - March 12, 2019 -- Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

Based on the best-selling book Service Agreements for SMB Consultants, this course covers everything you need to know about developing your service agreements. And the book subtitle is important, too: A Quick Start Guide to Managed Services.

Most I.T. Professionals sign - or don't sign - contracts for the wrong reasons. Most think contracts are intended to draw battle lines for when you have a disagreement with your clients. In fact, that piece of the relationship is almost always outside the contract! We'll explore why you really need contracts or service agreements.

We'll also look at various options, including a 2-page "terms of service" as well as managed services, programming agreements, and more.

Tuition for this course include the ebook version of the newly revised and expanded Service Agreements for SMB Consutants! That includes all the downloads from the book as well.

You will learn


  • Defining Yourself and Your Relationships
  • Define Yourself
  • Define Client Relationships
  • The Language of Service Agreements
  • The Service Agreement Construction Kit
  • A Sample Credit Agreement
  • Boilerplate: A Sample Service Agreement
  • Flat Fee or Managed Services Parts
  • The Managed Service Agreement
  • Getting Help and Managing Agreements
  • Getting Help - Lawyers, Accountants, etc.
  • Managing Your Service Agreements
  • PLUS lots more. This class is filled with great advice and tips on running your I.T. company and moving into the world of recurring revenue with managed services.




Delivered by Karl W. Palachuk, blogger and author of the very popular "SOP Friday" posts.

Includes five weeks of webinars with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor. All classes are recorded for download.

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

Only $259





Note: Small Biz Thoughts Community Members may attend for only $99 per student. Find out more:


:-)

Monday, February 04, 2019

Free Webinar: Move from Break/Fix to MSP - Feb 28th

#1 Question: Is it too late to become a Managed Service Provider?

Short Answer: No!

In fact, what we call "managed service" is really just the way technology support will be delivered from now on. We're going to use great tools, sell network-managed solutions, and focus on preventive maintenance and recurring revenue.

Join me February 28th at 11 AM Pacific for a free webinar on making the move to managed service.

Join me and Zyxel for a free webinar on making the move to managed service.

Register Now


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 show you how to make the move from Break/Fix to Managed Services.

Freebies
All attendees will receive a copy of my book Managed Services in a Month as well as my new condensed 10 page guide. And, every attendee will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Plus one lucky attendee will win a $1,000 gift card!

Zyxel has some pretty cool new products, and we'll also learn about Zyxel's Nebula Cloud Management Solution from Shawn Rogers, Market Development Manager for Zyxel Communications, Inc.

We did a similar webinar before and it was very well received.

Please join us for a great event!


:-)

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Great New Class on Supercharge Your Hiring, Team Building, and Sales with DiSC - Starts Feb. 5th

Great New Mini Class: Supercharge Hiring, Team Building, and Sales with DiSC

Long time author, trainer, coach, and community builder Erick Simpson is teaching a great new 3-part mini course in the Small Biz Thoughts Community on DiSC personality profiles. Many of us use DiSC profiles at some point in our hiring process. Personally, I used them when I think I’ve got the right candidate, but before I make the actual job offer.

Three Tuesdays:

Feb. 5th - 9:00 AM Pacific
Feb. 19th
Feb. 26th

FREE to Small Biz Thoughts Community Members

Only $99 for Non-Members

Erick learned about DiSC profile while running his own managed service business. He saw so much value for his team that he became a certified DiSC trainer and started offering DiSC training to other.

In this three-part mini course, Erick gives you a great introduction to the value of personality profiles and lots of hands-on knowledge so you can learn to apply these profiles within your own company.

NOTE: Your class registration includes ONE DiSC profile, which will give you a big fat report you can read through to see the value of the instrument. Additional profiles are available at a greatly reduced price.

Format: Our Community presents a new 3-part mini class every month. Each class is about 30-60 minutes with 100% usable information. Our goal is to give you truly valuable tools and education that will improve your business during the class.

You will certainly benefit from Erick’s training on DiSC profiles!

– – –

DiSC Mini Class by Erick Simpson – Instructor: Erick Simpson
– Three Days: February 5, 19, 26 (2019)
– Note: No class February 12th

– All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific
– All classes are recorded
– Classes are generally 30-60 minutes

This class is FREE for Small Biz Thoughts Community. Community members. $99 for non-members.


:-)



Saturday, February 02, 2019

Four Lessons from the Google+ Shutdown

You may have missed it with the end-of-year hub-bub, but Google has announced the demise of Google+, the social media "start up" that never flourished. Now, I know it's easy to make fun of Google+ because they have never really been successful when measured against Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

Google to Shut Down Google+
But let me be honest here: When I fail, no one notices. And I fail a lot. More precisely, I try lots of new things. When I close down the projects that aren't working, they generally fall into one of two categories. The real failures - the ones absolutely no one cared about - I simply stop doing. I don't make an announcement. No fanfare. I just put my energy somewhere else.

For projects that had some level of success, I redirect to my "failure page." It's here: Know When to Quit. As you can guess from the page title, it's an essay entitled Know When to Quit.

As a Google (Alphabet) stock holder, I am happy to see Google try new things. And as a blogger, vlogger, podcaster, and general media whore, I have taken great advantage of many Google products and services to promote my business and my personal philosophies about life.

As a business enthusiast, I'm always eager to figure out what went wrong and learn some lessons. Here's my take on what we can learn from the Google+ shutdown.


1. Never follow someone else's business model.

We've seen this over and over. If you follow someone else, the best you can ever hope for is to be number two in the market. Google woke up one day and realized they didn't have a Facebook-like social media platform. So they decided to create one, assuming that their massive popularity (Google search) would catapult their success. People started making fun of them from the start.

This is particularly odd when you realize how many social media platforms Google already owns - and the markets they dominate. For example, Google owns Blogger, Zagat, and YouTube. Plus, they own a plethora of other-branded search engines. See this list.

Microsoft loves to copy Apple (stores, tablets, phones), and they always come in second. Or they end up dropping out.

Lesson: The road to success is more often paved by doing something that very few (or no one) is already doing.


2. Don't building your business on rented land.

Many, many companies today are relying on Facebook and, to a lesser degree, LinkedIn as the platform for their marketing. You've seen it. A group pops up on Facebook and suddenly has 4,000 or 40,000 members. After all, with a base of more than a billion members, you only need a small percentage to reach those numbers.

But beware. Big companies don't make money giving you stuff for free. They make money getting you to engage with dollars, whether directly or indirectly. And any business you don't control can disappear overnight. Many companies have been "bit" by simple rules changes at Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

When you're in the middle of a frenzy, it's hard to see that it will end. But there are thousands of examples. Yahoo was once the largest search engine. MySpace once dominated social media.

What comes after Facebook? What comes after LinkedIn? You don't honestly think that kids born in 2019 will be using these platforms as much as their parents, do you? Instagram and SnapChat are the top social media sites for teenagers today. Both are owned by Facebook.

Lesson: Use others' platforms, but don't bet your business on them.


3. Control where you spread your data.

Social media companies have had a wild ride over the last fifteen years of so. For at least ten of those years, people freely put the most private information (and company data) online. We were told that "Privacy is a thing of the past." Then the consequences of that free-for-all became clearer.

Now we're in an era of trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle.

The demise of Google+ is a great example of trying to clean up your data. Do you have a Google+ Community? Has your company shared information with others in a place that you think is safe and secure? Do you have a record of what's up there? Do you care if it's deleted on the site (and the site is deleted)?

And what happens to the decade of backups? Will Google be deleting your personal and company data from those backups? [Wild guess: No.]

Going forward, you need to make sure you control your company information more tightly. You have no control over what ultimately happens to it once it's on a site you don't control. And while this is a very visible example of a site disappearing, it's certainly not the only example, or the last.

Lesson: Create a policy for your company, and do what you can to control the use of company data.


4. Google is a strong and powerful company: Look for them to do something else that's really cool.

Looping back to my introduction, I fully expect that Google management is relieved to have Google+ behind it. And now they can use those resources to take on some other adventure.

When you look at the broad holdings of Alphabet, you realize that they do not have blinders on when it comes to the future. They dabble in artificial intelligence, big data, driverless vehicles, and all kinds of new technologies.

I believe we can look forward to some very interesting new initiatives from Alphabet and Google going forward. At this stage, they have to spend a certain percentage of their energy protecting their dominance in search. But they are clearly dedicated to trying new things. And as they embrace new technologies, the "new things" have the potential to be truly spectacular.

Lesson: Try lots of new things, but know when to quit.


A Few Details on the Shutdown

For more information, see https://blog.google/technology/safety-security/expediting-changes-google-plus/
and their FAQ at https://support.google.com/plus/answer/9217723


  • Google+ will be shutting down for consumers April 2019.
  • You can download your photos and other content if you wish.
  • On April 2nd, your Google+ account and any Google+ pages you created will be shut down and content will be deleted.
  • Note that photos and videos backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.
  • The process of deleting content will take months. So your stuff might disappear on April 2nd, but could disappear any time.
  • "As early as February 4th" you will no longer be able to create new Google+ profiles, pages, communities or events.
  • If you use the Google+ Sign-in button for non-Google sites, those buttons will stop working soon. Google owns a LOT of properties, so you'll be able to user their non-plus Google Sign-in buttons instead.
  • If you are in the habit of logging on with Google+ and then making comments on other sites, such as Blogger, those comments will disappear by March 7th.
  • G Suite accounts should remain active. But look for changes to the look and feel.
  • Developers who use Google+ APIs or Google+ Sign-in will need to do some re-programming. See the FAQ and announcement pages above.


:-)

Friday, February 01, 2019

January Roundup - What a Way to Start the Year!

Some days I feel lazy. Then I sit down to look at what really got accomplished in the first month of the year. For me, it was quite a bit.

I'm grateful to have had such a productive kick-off for 2019.

Over at my YouTube Channel, I posted ten videos:



Subscribe today at www.youtube.com/smallbizthoughts.

And I managed to produce a dozen blog posts at Small Biz Thoughts:



Subscribe to my blog and never miss a post!

Over in the Small Biz Thoughts Community, we posted a lot of great content, including . . .




You can always see what's new on the "What's New" blog: www.smallbizthoughts.org/whats-new/

I also posted four 30-minutes interviews over at SMB Community Podcast, with


  • Len DiCostanzo
  • Arlin Sorensen
  • Manuel Palachuk
    and
  • Erick Simpson

(See video links above.)

Along the way, I produced two webinars, including my 10th Annual State of the Nation Address for Small Business IT. And I delivered a new presentation live at SMB TechFest.

On the education front, I delivered most of the 5-Week Class on Managing Your Service Board, with over forty people registered. In addition, I taught an all new three-part mini class on Tuning Up Your Employee Onboarding Process - inside the SBT Community.

. . . And somewhere along the way, finished three more chapters in my next book: Cloud Services in a Month. I'm on target to finish it this quarter.

- - - - -

I love to relax. And I love to be lazy.

But I have to admit the I feel best at the end of a day when I feel that I've actually accomplished a lot. January, for me, feels extremely satisfying because it feels very productive.

Unfortunately, I missed a few deadlines.

Oh well. I'll try to catch up in February.

If you want to keep up with all of my activities, the best way is to subscribe to my weekly Small Biz Thoughts Newsletter. I try to include unique content you won't find anywhere else. It's free.

Please sign up today.

And I would appreciate your feedback on any of my content.

:-)

Monday, January 28, 2019

I'm beginning to feel a bit like Susan Bradley . . .

If you're new to the Small Business IT world, you may not have bumped into Susan Bradley's content. If you HAVE been around much as all, you are pretty much guaranteed to have found her blog. Why? Well, she answers so many questions, that her blog turns out to be the answer for many technical questions.

Susan's Blog
https://blogs.msmvps.com/bradley/
I first met Susan way back in 2003. She was wearing a shirt that said, "I'm blogging this." My response (luckily, inside my own head) was, "What's blogging?"

Then I started really digging into Small Business Server . . . and Susan's blog was listed in almost any Google search related to SMB or SBS. Really. Everywhere.

Anyway, one time Susan told me that she started her blog in part because it was an easy way to store answers to all the questions that came up. Every time she solved a problem, she blogged about it. And then when she had that problem again, she could just go to her blog and search for it.

[Genius level side note: Keep tweaking the tags and keywords on your blog post until a search gets you the results you want. After all, you control the blog. Once you master this for your own purposes, you will also have improved Google's indexing of your blog!]

Anyway . . .

This morning, for the first time, I started to feel a bit like Susan: I used my own site to find a "How-To" I'd written with regard to fixing something on YouTube.

I knew I'd covered this exact issue in the recent YouTube class I taught inside the Small Biz Thoughts Community. So I jumped in there and instantly found what I was looking for. It was quite gratifying.

Don't get me wrong: I'm still a million steps behind Susan. But her story about using her own blog as a resource popped into my head, so I thought I'd give her a shout-out.

In case you haven't checked out my Blog Roll, it's over on the right side of my blog. Just scroll down. Susan's blog has been on my blog roll since the first day I set up this blog. Others have come and gone. But Susan is a resource I've relied on since I started learning about the world of SMB IT consulting.

:-)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Free German Edition of Managed Services in a Month

After many trials and tribulations, the German language edition of Managed Service Provider in 1 Monat is available!

I am eternally grateful to my readers in other countries who have purchased my books in English. Of course, many people in Germany speak English extremely well. But my bet is that they would German if it were available.

We shall see.

I want to give away 100 copies of this book in PDF format to folks with a .de domain email. Send me an email to request your copy. karlp at smallbizthoughts.com.

The only thing I ask is your feedback, so I can improve the edition. My writing style and attitude may not translate well. And, who knows, there may yet be errors in the book.

If you also want to review it on Amazon, I'd appreciate that, too. But it's certainly not a requirement.

The process of creating this book in German was very long and drawn out. I have taken some classes, but certainly am not fluent in German.

I hired a native German speaker with some technical background to create the translation. Unfortunately, he developed a very serious health problem and had to back out of the project. So then I have to find someone else and start over.

I like Upwork, but their search engine is not very good for things like this. You basically have to find a few people who might be right and then figure out the list of skills you need so you can post a job. Then prospects show up.

After that, I hired someone to proofread the book, also a native German speaker. Then, I facilitated some communications between those two to work out differences in how things should be translated.

Finally, I had to find a layout artist who could work with my digital printer's requirements and templates. And back to the proofreader.

Anyway, a year after the English print edition was completed, the German edition is now available.

If you wish to buy the paperback edition, it is available on Amazon.de or SMB Books.

Thank you all. Tell your friends.

:-)

Friday, January 25, 2019

SOP: How to Stand Up At a Client's Office

I sometimes mention my four-step process for standing up at a client's office. I casually mentioned this in a class I was teaching Tuesday when someone asked me where they could find the article or blog post on this. And I realized: I don't think I've actually posted it before.


Here's the setup:

1) You are at a client's office

2) You have performed some work (Doesn't matter what)

3) You wish to stand up and move away from the client's desk

In my company, there is a four step process for this:

1) Verify that you can open a file on the server (or cloud storage)

2) Verify that you can print

3) Verify that you can send/receive email

4) Verify that you can access the Internet

THEN you are authorized to stand up.

I know this seems like overkill to some of you. BUT this SOP has saved us countless hours of hassles, rework, and even driving back to a client's office once we've left. Here's why.

As mentioned above, it doesn't matter why you sat down. Once you sit at a client's computer, anything that goes wrong is your fault. So, if their printer wasn't working but they didn't know it, and you sat down to adjust their monitor, the client will think you did something to break the printer.

90% of the time, issues that you find in these circumstances are very minor. But every once in a while, you find a real problem they were not aware of. This process takes all of about sixty seconds, but it eliminates 99.99% of all gotchas.

How many times have you said, or heard someone else say, "This can't be related to that?" But then it turns out that This is related to That!

Remember, coincidences DO happen. The internet might go down just as you stand up from a client machine. Outlook might have an issue. The printer has one page's worth of toner left.

This SOP is really one of those tiny quality control processes you can build into your standard routine. The phrase I used with technicians to give more force was, "You are not authorized to stand up until you . . .."

Just like the workman who puts little booties on before walking into your house, it's the little things that make your company shine.

Branding is Everything You Do.

:-)



Tuesday, January 22, 2019

SBT Community Monthly Meeting - Send Your Questions and Join Me Friday

Small Biz Thoughts Community Members:

SBT Community Monthly Meeting - Send Your Questions and Join Me Friday


One of the benefits of your membership is the monthly get-together Community Meeting.

Please note that there is one link and one password for the entire year - 2019. This get-together repeats every month on the Final Friday at 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern.

Prepare your questions! Please email questions to concierge@smallbizthoughts.com. We will answer email questions first and then answer live questions.

More info in the What's New blog.

All meetings are recorded and will be posted in the Webinars section of the Small Biz Thoughts Community.

Dates for 2019:
January 25 - 9:00 AM Pacific Time
February 22
March 29
April 26
May 31
June 28
July 26
August 30
September 27
October 25
November 29
December 27


Basic Agenda:

  • What's New
  • Announcements
  • Featured Content
  • Questions / Answers

-- -- --

Other New Stuff This Week in the Small Biz Thoughts Community

Be Your Brand – The Not-So-Subtle Art of Controlling Every Aspect of Your Business
Recorded webinar by Karl W. Palachuk

This presentation is about much more than “branding” in a classic sense. It’s about everything you do! Handouts include an assessment of your SOPs, and a one-year project to implement 50 new SOPs in your business in the next year.

--

Manuel Updates the Service Delivery Backlog and Metrics Training

Lots of Members downloaded Manuel’s Service Delivery Backlog and Metrics Training, posted January 4th. And after some quick feedback, Manuel made some changes and fixed a few things.

--

Massive Coaching Mastermind – Sacramento – March

I am hosting an all-day Massive Coaching Mastermind event at the end of March in Sacramento, CA.
Travel on March 28th. Mastermind all day Friday, March 29th. Price includes two hotel nights – March 28th and 29th – and all meals Friday.

--

My Favorite Marketing Techniques
Recorded Webinar

Will be posted Wed the 23rd.

--

Awesome Employee Onboarding Mini Class
Part 2 of 3 is live Wednesday 9 AM.

Members can access for free!

:-)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Join Me - Coaching Mastermind - March in Sacramento

I am hosting an all-day Massive Coaching Mastermind event at the end of March in Sacramento, CA.

Here's the basic timing:

Fly / Travel on Thursday, March 28th
We'll gather for drinks and networking Thursday evening

Mastermind Breakfast on Friday, March 29th
Meet / Mastermind 9AM to 9PM (includes all meals)

Price includes two hotel nights - March 28th and 29th - and all meals Friday. So plan to travel Thursday and then you're on your own when you wake up Saturday. Weather is normally around 70 degree Fahrenheit in Sacramento at that time.

If you want to bring your family and wander off to Napa wine country, Yosemite, San Francisco, or other Northern California adventures, the weather should be perfect. Or, if you prefer the snow, Tahoe is a short drive up the hill.

This event is strictly limited to TEN participants.

Non-members will pay $1999 each. This includes one year membership in the Small Biz Thoughts Community.

Members pay only $999 each.

Your satisfaction is guaranteed! If you don't get enough value from this event to improve your business significantly, I'll refund your money.

I've lined up some amazing speakers/trainers to help you spend the whole day grabbing a hold of your business and moving it up a notch. Then we're going to focus on YOUR business and help you brainstorm ways to solve your biggest challenges.

This is an all-day working day for your business.

Members: Find the discount code in the "Classes and Seminars" area in the Community. Members Click Here.

Everyone: Register Here


* Price does not include airfare, additional hotel nights, hotel upgrades, guests, spouses, family accommodations, bail, or other expenses.



- - - - -

Thanks (as always) for your support.

If you have questions, email me at karlp@smallbizthoughts.com

:-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Community Meetings Scheduled - Atlanta and Chicago

I posted up a question on Facebook and LinkedIn . . . and got a great response.

So we're going to try a couple of live in-person meetings of the Small Biz Thoughts Community.

Of course anyone can attend. But these meetings will be FREE to members of the SBT Community.


Because we have so many amazing Community Leaders, we have the ability to provide unique content that is not available anywhere else.

Only $99  for non-members! (Free to members)

We are not holding “Roadshows” in 2019. Instead, we are holding a handful of Community Meetings. These are meetings filled with content and 100% focused on improving your IT Consulting business.

Each meeting starts with a keynote presentation by me. After that, we will enjoy content from several special guests, including Amy Babinchak, Harry Brelsford, Jennifer Fields, Amy Luby, Manuel Palachuk, Erick Simpson, and others.

This is a great collection of speakers and training you won’t find anywhere else.

Welcome Video:


Topic:
Making Money in 2019

Pick a city to attend. If you’re a member, pick more than one!

Members – Please register so we have an accurate count. You’ll find a code in the SBT Community Forums (Karl’s Korner / Freebies, Deals, etc.) that takes the price from $99 to Free.


Presentations Include


  • Amy Babinchak – Technical Skillsets You Need for the 2020’s
  • Harry Brelsford – Five Steps to Implementing Analytics in an MSP Practice
  • Jennifer Fields – Power Marketing – List Building, Telemarketing, and Implementation
  • Manuel Palachuk – Agile – The New Method and Metrics For Service Delivery
  • . . . plus Erick Simpson, Amy Luby, and other influential community leaders

See specific cities for specific presenters and topics.


Atlanta – March 5th – Register here



Chicago – April 29th – Register here



-- -- --

We're using the SMB Roadshow web site for agendas, speaker info, etc.

For more information on the Small Biz Thoughts Community, please visit bit.ly/sbtinfo

###

Monday, January 14, 2019

State of the Nation Address for SMB IT - Wednesday Jan 16th

My how time flies.

Join me Wednesday for my 10th Annual State of the Nation Address for SMB IT Professionals.

January 16th, 2019
9:00 AM Pacific Time

Note: This call was recorded. View here.

Register here.
Free of course.

No politics. Just a quick look at 2018, 2019, and some advice for moving ahead.

We have several hundred people registered already. In fact, I just upgraded my webinar package so no one gets locked out.

Just added: We are also going to live stream this webinar on Facebook. To view it there, just go to the Small Biz Thoughts page at https://www.facebook.com/SmallBizThoughts/.

Note, however, that this is my first time streaming a live webinar to Facebook. So if there are any problems, I won't pay any attention to that. I'll be focused on the live Zoom webinar.


In case you missed the first nine years . . . This is a webinar focused on YOU and on our industry.

I give my summary of the year just passed and my ideas for what we face in the year ahead.

After that, I present a 100% business-focused discussion of the challenges and opportunities in the year to come.

2018 was a great year for small business IT. On one hand, 2019 started with some economic turbulence. On the other hand, there's a vast amount of opportunity in emerging technologies.

As I look forward to the year ahead, I am committed to helping IT service providers build successful businesses that look to the future of technology and guarantee their success moving forward.

I've mentioned in recent presentations that I wish was ten years old again. There's more opportunity in technology today than at any time in the last hundred years! To take advantage of it, you need to embrace some new business techniques and abandon some strategies that have been very successful in the past.

It's time to leave the past in the past.

I am going to focus on the most important things you need to do to build a profitable business - and lock in a very successful 2019!

Join Me!

10th Annual State of the Nation Address for SMB IT Professionals
January 16th, 2019
9:00 AM Pacific Time

Register Now!

:-)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

What's Covered by Managed Services?

One of the never-ending questions about Managed Services is: What's Covered?

Let me start by being very clear about what's NOT covered: "All You Can Eat." That term - that concept - is the worst thing you can promise. Ultimately, AYCE is undeliverable. It's stupid at best and dishonest at worst.

At least once a year, someone emails me with a horrible story in which a client has taken advantage of them due to their AYCE policy. I feel in my bones that I'm just about to get another one as IT service providers are asked by their clients to install free upgrades from Windows 7 to Windows 10 on old, crappy machines that should have been retired five years ago. And they'll be asked to do it for FREE because there's an all you can eat contract.

All a client can eat is all the profit of your company.

I really need to do a separate blog post on this, but for now, please believe me. If you offer All You Can Eat, you will regret it one day.

So what IS covered?

Here's the phrase I have always used in my companies:

Managed Services covers the maintenance of the operating system and software.

This phrase is elegant, it is precise, and it is succinct. Managed service is fundamentally a process for maintaining client systems. It is not intended to include projects or project labor.

That simple phrase - "Managed Services covers the maintenance of the operating system and software" - is easy to remember. It's also easy to teach to your clients, prospects, and employees. And it also makes clear what is not covered: Hardware and non-maintenance labor.

You can choose to cover hardware under specific circumstances. Again, that's a topic for another blog post.

The key phrase to remember what's not covered is: Adds-Moves-Changes. The example I give to everyone is very simple.

If you want me to install a program on your machine, that is an addition. Therefore, the labor is billable. As soon as it's installed and working, then it's covered by managed service. After that, if it stops working, we will fix it for no additional charge.

The exception, of course, is specialty software that is either a major line-of-business application or something you had programmed specifically for your company. Those programs are not "off the shelf" and must be under a maintenance contract in order for us to include them in managed service.

Write that down: Add, Move, Change. It could literally be the difference between profit and loss for your managed service business.

Next question: What about clients who always need X hours per month? Can we include that?

Well, yes, of course. But you need to be careful. We have had clients with huge turnover due to the nature of their business (e.g., a call center). Because we know they will use up a certain number of hours per month adding and removing users, we pre-sold them blocks of time. You could add "up to x hours" labor to the monthly bill and just increase your recurring revenue. As long as it works for both you and the client, it's good.

In general, I like the monthly bill to be as consistent as possible. Another goal of managed services is to make the invoicing as predictable as possible for both you and the client.

Deep in my heart, I believe that most people who call themselves managed service providers are not providing managed services. They are using the terminology because it has become so common. But they are rolling out marginal or even unprofitable programs - and calling it managed service.

You do not have to use my exact phrase above. But I think you'll make more money if you do. Whatever phrase you use, you need to draw a big, dark line that separates billable from non-billable work.

:-)