Thursday, September 19, 2019

24 hour Zoom Room Available to Community Members

We all love Zoom, right?

Well now we are taking our Zoom engagement to a new level.

Effective immediately, we are making our Zoom Room available to all SBT Community Members 24 hours a days, seven days a week!

24×7
Why and What? Here’s what we’re up to:

Members Click Here to Access the Link.

Whenever you want to chat with someone in the community, you simply go to that link. Your video and microphone will be OFF by default, but you can always turn them on. Recording of the session is also OFF by default.

If you’re ever just hanging out and wondering if anyone else is hanging out, we encourage you to log and engage.

Note: This is the same Zoom room we use for classes and Community meetings. So if you’re hanging out and we crank up a class or meeting, we will (politely) let you know that we “need the room” for an hour or so.

We are VERY open to ideas you have about how we can use the Zoom Room.

:-)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

NexGen Conference - Free on Me Oct 23-24

From my good friends at NexGen:

NexGen Conference  2019

Complimentary General Admission Pass for October 23 & 24th
Use Promo Code SmallBiz
Anaheim, CA - Anaheim Marriott

www.nexgenconference.com

Managed services are at the heart of the IT solution provider business, generating a staggering $158 billion in sales. Partners at the forefront of managed services are rapidly expanding by offering customers new services and solutions. NexGen caters to this critical segment of the channel, with a conference custom designed for elite services-led and cloud-focused managed services professionals.
MSPs attend NexGen to:

  • Stay ahead of technology services and industry trends
  • Identify strategic partners to fuel their growth
  • Engage with peers for feedback and validation of their strategies


This year-s featured sessions include:

  • The X Factor of Customer Centricity
  • Max Out SaaS Sales to SMBs
  • 3 Ways To Sell The Cloud 
  • Securing The Customer: Taking Relationships to The Next Level
  • Google Cloud Pros & Cons
  • Using AI to Measure Customer Satisfaction Levels


View the conference agenda

:-)

Monday, September 09, 2019

The Real Cost of Travel

As some of you may have noticed, I like to travel. A lot.

Travel is a great example of why "cost" is a relative thing - and why the cheapest looking price is often not the cheapest at all. Remind your clients and prospects of this when they want to talk about pricing.
My apartment in Edinburgh

Here are some of the key costs of travel that people ignore.

1) Travel by car is not cheap!

Many people think, "Oh, it's cheaper to just drive." Why? Because they look at the cost of fuel in isolation from everything else. It may be cheaper, but you have remember all the associated costs. Many conference hotels charge $20-30 per day to park. More if you use their valet. Plus you have to stop for more food during your travel than a you would with a quick plane ride.

2) Published hotel prices are all fictional.

You need to dig into the real total here. Many hotels add "resort" fees even though the resort consists of the workout room with three pieces of equipment. Hotels also don't always include taxes and fees in their pricing. So an advertised room at $129 might end up costing you $170 when the total bill comes. (Plus parking.)

3) Food, especially breakfast, is a huge variable.

Many mid-range hotels (Courtyard, Townhome suites, etc.) include a very basic breakfast with your stay. This can save you $10-20 over the cost of breakfast at a higher-end hotel. Of course, if you're Platinum or some other expensive metal, then you can eat for "free" in the executive lounge. But your room will be in the $169 range rather than the $139 range.

4) Wi-Fi. Get the real deal before you book.

As a very frequent business traveler who works from the road, I always need good Wi-Fi. And very often that means I have to bring it with me. In most countries, I can use my T-Mobile phone and just add a data package. In some places, I buy a local Mi-Fi device or even a low end cell phone with a data package. If you have to constantly upgrade your Internet access, it can cost you as much as $10-20 per day. Make sure you know what you're getting into.

5) Local transportation can range from free to expensive.

Once you're on site, you need to get around. So, for example, if you stay in the heart of the tourist district, you might be able to walk to everything you need. Of course, you'll pay a higher price for your hotel if you do that. It's cheaper outside the tourist area, but you'll end up driving and paying to park, or take Uber and Lyft everywhere. Sometimes it's cheaper to buy the more expensive hotel room.

6) Air fares are NOT all about the price.

Cheap airfare is one of the most expense things you can experience. With very few exceptions, airfares are very well coordinated with experience. You pay less; you get less. If you don't care about legroom (or side room), then cheap fares will get you in the back, middle seats on almost any airline. Just don't whine about it: You chose that experience. For $25-50 more per hop, you can get a good seat on almost any airline. Also, some cheap fares now exclude any carry-on baggage. Once again, look at your total price. AND cheaper flights often include extra stops and much longer total travel time.

7) Local meals and entertainment can vary dramatically.

In most places you travel, there are meals and bars that range from cheap to expensive. But not always. If you're going to eat out every meal, make sure you have local options. It may be worthwhile to pay a bit extra to be within walking distance of reasonably priced food.

8) Plan WAY in advance and save.

I try to buy my airfare and make hotel reservations months in advance. As a result, my airfare is usually super cheap, and my hotels are reasonably priced. Buying flights 4-6 months in advance can cut the price by half or more.

My current trip from Oakland to Manchester (UK) to Seattle over about two weeks cost me $932 all in. I took the train to Edinburgh and will take a train to Newcastle. Buying way in advance, both cost less than $60 USD. Similarly, my trip to Australia next month was paid for back in April and will cost about $1200 round trip.


Bring it all together: Expect to pay more than the advertised price.

For my current trip I booked an apartment above a bar in Edinburgh for about $160/night. With that location, I have no local travel expenses and lots of options for local eating and drinking. And, of course, no parking. I did buy an extra data package from T-Mobile for $35, but it's good for the entire trip.

In general, I guarantee a certain level of "quality" travel by following a few simple rules.


  • Start by avoiding the cheapest price. I buy main cabin airfare and hope to get upgraded.
  • Check a variety of housing options. I start with FlipKey.com and then Travelocity.com. Sometimes I get a deal with the airline while booking flights (especially Delta and Hawaiian airlines). But bundles with Travelocity are also excellent.
  • Consider alternative travel. For Americans that means trains, light rail, ferries, and even buses. 98% of non-US mass transit is reliable and reasonably priced.
  • Plan well in advance.
  • Plan to pay 10-20% more than the advertised fee on hotels and cheap airlines.


Note: Your clients have experienced all of these things when they travel. So when they want to talk pricing or want to compare you to low-cost IT providers, but remind them of the last horrible "cheap" flight or cheap hotel.

Cheap never is. And the experience leaves much to be desired.

Don't be cheap.

:-)

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

5-week Course - The Unbreakable Rules of PSA - Starts September 10th

The Unbreakable Rules of PSA – IT Service Delivery in the 21st Century

Taught By: Manuel Palachuk

Register Now

Five Tuesdays - 9:00 AM Pacific

September 10, 2019 - October 8, 2019

Course 5w11

Everyone needs a PSA - Professional Services Automation tool. But in addition to simply having a PSA, you need to set it up correctly and use it wisely.

In this course, you will learn how to double your value to clients and increase your profit with these powerful golden rules of PSA Service Ticket Systems.

Coach Manuel focuses on the direct connection between your service delivery system, the value you give your clients, and your profit, and how to maximize each. He also gives an overview of Agile Service Delivery, an emerging method you must learn to stay competitive.




Whether you’re a one-person shop or have fifty employees, to be consistently profitable, you must have guidelines for how to break down the work in an organized fashion and how you will communicate with the client along the way.

You don’t have to be an MSP or even use a PSA to work efficiently and be profitable, but you do need a system and a method. These "golden" rules can be the seed for your own system if you have none, or you can adopt them in whole to enrich your existing methods. Either way, this is your opportunity to take your service delivery and your profits to the next level.

The course includes a thorough discussion of the unbreakable rules of service tickets as well as covering quality communication with every client. It will be time well spent!

Whether you're a new "Computer Consultant" or an experienced Managed Service Provider, you need to create successful processes that will propel your company forward. Nothing is more critical to making profit than having the right processes and procedures in place!

Delivered by Manuel Palachuk, author and business coach.

- 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.

$259.00 - Purchase The Unbreakable Rules of PSA - IT Service Delivery in the 21st Century
There are no modules in this training course.







:-)


Sunday, August 25, 2019

How to Email Files Into Your Kindle

One of the basic features of the Amazon Kindle device is the ability to import files via email. Most people probably see and ignore this ability when they first get their Kindle.

If you need a refresher on the official instructions, visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email.

Basically, you can email many kinds of files to your Kindle. Once you log into your Amazon accounts, you can browse to your Kindle and find the "Send-to-Kindle" email address for your specific device.

Supported File Types include:

  • Microsoft Word (.DOC, .DOCX)
  • HTML (.HTML, .HTM)
  • RTF (.RTF)
  • JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG)
  • Kindle Format (.MOBI, .AZW)
  • GIF (.GIF)
  • PNG (.PNG)
  • BMP (.BMP)
  • PDF (.PDF)

Note: If you send a PDF and wish to convert it to Kindle format, use the subject line "convert" to automatically enable conversion. This will allow you to use variable font sizes, annotations, and Whispersync.

You must send emails from the email address associated with your account and device.

For more information, instructions, and details, visit that page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email and check out the Help Page linked from their.

:-)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Why You Need to Track Outstanding Time in Your IT Business

Free Webinar:

Why You Need to Track Outstanding Time in Your IT Business


Mark your calendars for August 15th at 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern.

This event was recorded. You can find the recording here: https://mspwebinar.com

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

This is a great webinar for service managers, but it's also important for technicians and everyone on your team to understand why we need to track all time - especially time inside your ticketing system.

No sponsors. No advertising. Just information you need!



One of the big challenges in tracking time is that most PSAs fall short on this. YOU have to make up the difference. That means using QuickBooks and Excel, or similar tools.

Outstanding time in your system - "Backlog" - is one of the most important types of time you need to track. We'll show you why, and then talk about what you can do about it.

Join us for an education and practical discussion of tracking time inside your IT business!

:-)

Thursday, August 01, 2019

How to Email Busy People

When I hire new employees, there's always a "break-in" period around communication. This is true no matter what age they are.

Everyone wants to communicate in their own way. For some that's Facebook messenger. For some it's text message. For a handful it's still telephone. But the most voluminous method is email. Good old email.

So, lesson #1 is: This is how we communicate. Internal business communication is not by Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. And with few exceptions, it's not by text message.

Email can be easily filtered, so I know all employee and outsourced staff email ends up in a specific folder. I can manage that folder.

Next, when it comes to email, don't waste my time!!!

Lesson #2: Don't cc: me on every little thing. Correlate: Don't thank me for every little thing. I hire people so I don't have to do all the work myself. In fact I wrote a blog post about this many years ago called Please Don't CC The Boss.

That applies to gratuitous "Thanks" emails. I wish I could figure out a rule to determine whether the only communication in a reply email is "Thanks" and just move all those to the deleted items folder.

Many people are in this habit. It's a bit like that friend who absolutely must have the last word no matter what. Instead, read the sometimes-lengthy email thread. When the conversation is over, let it go.

I sometimes joke with employees that, if they insist on doing this, I am going to assign them the task of opening my in-box, searching for their own emails, and deleting everyone that contains no communication beyond Thanks or Thank You.

Lesson #3: Keep the subject line relevant. When you've moved from one subject to another, update the subject line or start a new thread. I hate being asked about next Tuesday's networking event under the subject line "Zoom Cloud Recording is Now Available."

Email is about communication. Use the tool to achieve that simple goal. That means keeping the subject line relevant.

Lesson #4: One item per email, whenever possible. (This is actually the reason I'm writing this post.) Let's assume the busy person you're emailing glances at the email subject and first sentence before they decide to open the email. Don't bury the lead, as they say in the news business.

Example One. I often receive emails from readers, followers, and people who just found me while cruising the Internet. By often I mean every single day. Generally, their email falls into two categories. One is a quick email with a quick question. They usually get a quick answer.

The other is a long email with lots of reading to do and several questions. This is something that will take my time. I have to do all that reading, try to figure out how best to help them, and then answer a series of questions. Emails like this almost never get a quick response. In fact, they get moved to a folder called "Reply when you can." I often answer these within a year or so.

Example Two - The reason I started writing this post. DO NOT reuse an old subject line, have a first sentence that looks like it will take some analysis, and then bring up a totally unrelated and important subject at the end of the email

A few days ago, I received an email from a part-time employee who was having trouble with a simple assignment. She was replying to an email I'd sent with a request. The fact that she was having trouble was clear from the first sentence. So I didn't open the email for three days since I knew she was coming in that day.

And there in the middle of the email was a note to the effect of: Oh, and by the way, I found another job.

Huh?

The fact that she resigned in the middle of an unrelated reply email is a good indicator that she wasn't a good fit in the first place.

- - - - -

I know we all like to complain about so-called common sense and we wish everyone had our version of it. But there really are some basic guidelines for communicating with people at work.

Your guidelines for email may be different from mine. But you should have some guidelines. After all, you can't control other people. You can only control your own processes. So you should have processes.

Comments welcome.

:-)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Financial Processes for the I.T. Services Firm - Class Starts August 6th

Financial Processes for the I.T. Services Firm

A VERY popular class, taught by Rayanne Buchianico.

August 6 - September 3, 2019

Start Time: 9:00 AM PST

5-Week Course

There are few things more important than the finances of your business. But most technology consultants didn't get into business to run balance sheets or figure out cash flow.

This class provides unique content from a unique teacher! Rayanne is a managed service provider from Tampa, FL. She is also an accountant and an Intuit certified ProAdvisor. In addition to her MSP business, Rayanne helps I.T. consultants to take control of their finances and understand their own business at a deeper level.



Topics for this class include:

  • Learn to read and understand your Balance Sheet and P&L Statements
  • Create a chart of accounts that makes sense for your business
  • Separating out information on the P&L for management decisions
  • Entities and tax considerations - understanding how your entity is taxed. Handout is a tax projection worksheet for 2017 taxes
  • Cash flow forecasting - Handout is a cash flow projection spreadsheet to forecast revenues and expenses
  • Understanding margins and ratios - Deep dive into the P&L and Balance Sheet to understand how the numbers work together to make decisions. Handout is a worksheet on calculating and understanding the ratios & margins.
  • Use margins to price your services for profit
  • Calculate billing and burden rates
  • Action plans for success

. . . and More!

Delivered by Rayanne Buchianico, Financial Coach and QuickBooks Advisor. Rayanne has been an MSP - managed service provider - for many years and advises MSPs on how to get the most out of their QuickBooks and PSA integrations.

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 Owner or Operations Manager.

Week One: Introduction to Your Company’s Finances
Week Two: Cash Flow Forecasting
Week Three: Margins, Ratios, KPIs, and Breakeven points
Week Four: Jobs, Budgeting, and Internal Controls
Week Five: Planning for Taxes







:-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Updated YouTube Class - Revised for the New Interface - Starts Aug. 14th

Tune Up Your YouTube – 3-week Course – Revised for 2020!


Want a great way to finish off the year? How about tuning up your YouTube Channel?

Note: This is a revamped class. After the original 3-week class, YouTube completely changed their interface. That’s the challenge of social media, right? So we had to create all new screenshots. And the checklists had to be updated.

If you don’t have a YouTube channel, we’ll show you how to set it up right. We’ll talk about the graphic sizes you need for background images, how to set up playlists, and much more.

Most people don’t take advantage of all the features of YouTube, and therefore don’t get the great results they should. We’ll walk you through the process of posting your videos so you maximize visual appeal, keywords, and links back to your web site or other social media. With a checklist, of course!

If you don’t post a lot of videos, that’s okay. Karl will give you a checklist for posting so you don’t forget to take advantage of all the options.

We will also walk you through the process of telling Google (YouTube’s owner) which Internet properties are yours so that you can link to them from your YouTube channel.

Finally, we’ll walk you through the process of using a video in your Google advertising. This boosts your video performance dramatically at almost no cost. And of course we’ll answer all your questions.

Includes the following checklists – revised for 2020:

  • Checklist: Set Up YouTube Channel (pdf)
  • Checklist: YouTube Video Upload (pdf)
  • Checklist: YouTube Maximization Checklist (pdf)

– Classes are generally 30-60 minutes

When:

Aug 14th at 09:00 AM Pacific
Aug 21st at 9:00 AM Pacific
Aug 28th at 9:00 AM Pacific

Only $99 for non-members!

Free to Small Biz Thoughts Community Members.




Topics Covered:

Create and Customize Your Channel

  • YouTube and Google
  • Getting Started
  • Set Up Your Channel
  • Channel Artwork
  • Pro Tips


Upload Videos

  • Video Upload Checklist
  • Advanced Settings
  • End Screens and iCards
  • Show and Tell


Maximize Your Channel

  • Comments
  • Custom URL
  • Longer Videos
  • Video Ads
  • Cross-Posting Social Media
  • Custom Greeting Videos
  • Closed Captions
  • Reports
Join us!

:-)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Join Me at ChannelPro's SMB Forum - San Jose - Sept 5th

I am honored once again to be part of the ChannelPro SMB Forum.

My brother Manuel and I have a fun and educational presentation. Please join us!






Join us for the 2019 ChannelPro SMB Forum!

A Free, live event in San Jose on September 5!

REGISTER TODAY WITH PROMO CODE BIZVIP!


Who Should Attend?
  Local area IT integrators, consultants and Managed Service Providers

What's included?
  Free access to all sessions, learning materials, meals, and parking

Why Attend?
  The ChannelPro 2019 SMB Forum features an all-star cast of top industry experts, a unique interactive format that puts you in direct conversation with them, and a fast-paced, information-packed agenda covering topics you care about:


  • Sales Tip Shootout!—Concrete advice on landing appointments, overcoming objections to cross-selling services and beyond.

  • Get Ready for Managed Everything—A discussion on offering profitable as-a-service recurring revenue opportunities including hardware-as-a-service, communications-as-a-service, disaster recovery-as-a-service, and other cloud and non-cloud solutions.

  • Winning in Cybersecurity—Proven best practices for launching a security practice, selling security services, and more.

  • Getting Started in the Internet of Things (IoT)—Actionable advice on what services to start with, the skills you'll need to deliver those services, and the most successful techniques for finding prospects and closing deals.

  • MSP Pain Point Clinic—How to get your pricing right, hire good technicians, get your clients to pay on time and more!

  • Hardware Tech Trends—The latest trends in SMB hardware including new laptops, tablets, and other devices.

  • GEAR AND CASH GIVEAWAYS

  • And more!


If you're looking to break into managed IT services, or to grow your IT business to the next level, this event is perfect for you. The event is free to IT pros, and you are encouraged to bring your staff with you so you can all benefit from the learning and networking during the event.
 


:-)