Thursday, July 09, 2020

The Culture of Success

As you recall from the last few posts, I define culture as the values and habits of a group.

I spent a few years as a manager, taking over teams and making them successful. As I look back on the last thirty years, I can honestly say I enjoyed that era a lot – although it was very difficult. It was fulfilling to turn around a culture, once you started to see success. Before that, it was horrible and emotionally draining. 

If you are just you and you will never grow a team, then you are responsible for your own attitude and behavior every day. If you’re angry or joking, it’s up to you to decide how those things affect your company and your reputation.

But if you manage a team of any size, you need to consciously create the culture you want. Just as with your company goals, you need to create a vision of the culture you want. What would your company look like if you had the “right” culture? 

Once you have that vision, you can create your culture mission statement. Your mission is the path you need to follow to reach your vision. 

You can do a great deal to mold culture through processes and procedures. But the strongest pieces of culture are not found in tangible rules. They’re found in human emotions and attitudes. You can’t force people to come to work happy, or to be pleased with the decisions you’ve made.

As a result, culture cannot be something you tackle on a Thursday afternoon and then check the box: Culture – Done! No, you build culture with every human interaction, with every hiring decision, with the way you run meetings, with the way you make assignments, and with everything you do every day.

You can never “control” culture, but you can affect it. If you’re a parent, you’ve learned that you cannot control your children. But, if you’re consistent and persistent, you can influence them. Eventually (after the teen years are over), your children are very likely to reflect your values and work ethic, because you have modeled it their entire lives.

Molding the culture in your company is very similar. If you come in angry and irritated, barking orders and treating people like garbage, then you can expect that that’s how they will treat others. Your clients will see this.

From time to time I tell the story about the prospect who cussed out his employee while Mike and I sat there. We decided instantly, without exchanging a single word, that we would not take them as a client.

Part of our culture is that we only work with people we like. This works its way into our hiring process. A huge part of our team-building takes place at the interview stage. We have several employees interview a candidate and evaluate whether they think they would enjoy working with that person. We actually have an evaluation item about whether they’re a good fit for the team.

You cannot force emotions and attitudes on people – but you can publicly talk about what you expect. You can put goals and expectations in writing. Remember: One of the great hobbies of all employees is watching the boss!

That sounds a bit ominous, but it’s actually good. It makes your job of modeling behavior that much easier. But it also means that you have to “walk the talk” every day.

From time to time, I’ve worked with companies that have a difficult culture. The boss tolerates abusive managers. Employees see this (they see everything), so they know it does them no good to complain because the bad behavior is already known and accepted.

I can tell you – as a business coach – that this behavior cannot be fixed by a coach. It can only be fixed from the inside, and from the top down. The owner or manager has to be the person they want to be seen as. You cannot fake it. And you cannot tolerate bad behavior simply because someone is good at their job.

There is no shortage of talented people on Earth! You don’t have to tolerate jerks in your organization. 

-- -- 

Check out my new book - The Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery . . . 

How can you guarantee that your company delivers great service, has a great culture, and still manages to stay profitable? You need to follow certain “Unbreakable Rules” for success. Best-selling business author and coach Karl W. Palachuk draws on more than twenty thirty years of owning and running service-based businesses to present the rules his companies live by.

Lots of details at . . . 


Wednesday, July 08, 2020

New 3-Week Class: Key Performance Indicators for IT Service Managers

Key Performance Indicators for IT Service Managers

Key Performance Indicators
A great new members-only class. Best for: Operations Managers, Owners, and the Service Manager!

Taught By: Karl W. Palachuk

Three Wednesdays

July 15 - 29

9:00 - 10:00 AM PST

3-Week Mini Course
(Yes, the classes will be recorded. Yes, there will be handouts.)

More class info and registration:

Register Now: Key Performance Indicators for IT Service Managers

KPIs - Key Performance Indicators - can help you focus your business in the right direction.

You hear a lot about KPIs. But most people don't know where to start. The most common problem with KPIs is the "K" - KEY. Too many people measure too many things. Their search for KPIs leads to bureaucratic overload, loss of focus, and measurement for measurement's sake.

In this super-focused three week course, Karl W. Palachuk guides you through the definition of some specific goals - and measurements - for you IT service delivery.

Yes, we'll cover Sales KPIs and Front Office KPIs. But the primary focus is on fine-tuning the Service Department.

Course Outline

  • What are KPIs / What is not a KPI?
  • The part no one wants to hear . . .
  • Measuring success in your business
  • Leading and Lagging Indicators
  • Red Light, Green Light
  • Make it visible!
  • Exploring Sales and Front Office KPIs
  • Service Department KPIs
  • Integrating KPIs

Includes three weeks of webinar classes 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.

Note on Pricing:

This class is FREE to members of the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. If you're a member at any level, get the registration code there, or email Kara, our Community Manager.

Non-Members pay Only $999
Course registration includes one year of membership in the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community.

A Few Details . . .

  • This course will be three 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 webinars will be recorded and made available to paid attendees only
  • All classes start at 9:00 AM Pacific Time

I hope to see YOU in class!


Monday, July 06, 2020

SMB TechFest Goes 100% Virtual

The quarterly SMB TechFest show has always had a virtual component. Now they've gone 100% virtual for the July event. The event is all day July 16th.

You can attend this event FREE with this link: 

SMB TechFest - Virtual
Q3 Show is July 16th

Now made available to all Solution Providers


Learn how successful technology companies accelerate and succeed. This one day power packed event is designed to help you with today's challenges.

Topics Include:
Panel: Real Client Cyberattack Recoveries
Gain clients as an Authority on Compliance
Technical dive into Microsoft Teams
Cloud Simplified
DNS Traffic Filtering Solutions
Securing Active Directory; Common misconfigurations
Panel: Paycheck Protection Program and EIDL
Remote Support to dive your Business
VOIP Solutions for Today's Market
Panel: The Core Threat to MSP's
Profit & Protect Client’s Aging Equipment
Leverage Cloud for Greater Revenue & Services
Deliver Business Value; SBA - Small Business Administration
And more!

Not your normal Virtual Event.  Join our excitement:

1. Join our unique Video Social Mixer
2. Network with our Video “Introduce Yourself”
3. Don’t miss our Virtual Bar with our bartender/sommelier
4. Over $1,000 in cash being given away
5. Dozens of vendor solutions & discounts
6. Really talk with sponsors
7. Really talk with our speakers & panelists

Highlighted Speakers

Don’t delay.  Don’t miss it.  A must attend event.


Sunday, July 05, 2020

Introducing the SBT Roundtable - First Topic: Agile Methodology in IT Service Delivery

Beginning in July, we are introducing a new and unique forum for IT consultants - the SBT Roundtable.

Our goal is to create an opportunity to engage in high-level discussions about successful business methods. We will NOT have vendors or sponsors. We will not talk about which RMM to use, or a hundred other topics that are being discussed everywhere else.

Here's our unique format:

First, this is a members-only event for the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. Members at any level are welcome to join us. Non-members are welcome to become members.

Second, we will have no slides, no canned presentations. Basically, the content will be unique to this forum.

Third, the format is a conversation between two or three industry thought leaders. Our goal is to discuss things at a very high level. Our first session is a great example of that. Panelists are paid to provide unique content to our members. Yes, we welcome questions and participation from the audience.

The inaugural SBT Roundtable features Ryan Morris of the Morris Management Partners and Manuel Palachuk of Manuel Palachuk International. The topic is:

Agile Methodology in IT Service Delivery

July 22nd
10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern

Members: Click Here for Registration Info inside the Community

"Agile" is a methodology often associated with project management or software development. But Ryan and Manuel actively push consultants to apply agile methodologies to their service delivery. So we thought we'd get these two together to talk about practical ways to improve service (and profit) with this approach.

Agile promises faster (and more appropriate) response to problems without increasing paperwork and bureaucracy. And, at least in software development, it de-emphasizes process in favor of progress. We'll explore what that means for running your service delivery department.

This Roundtable is probably most beneficial for owners and service managers. But, of course, all members are welcome.

-- -- --

Ryan Morris has more than 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, and management in the B2B technology solutions industry – specifically focused on building successful multi-tier channel solutions and profitable solution provider businesses. Ryan has been a pioneering voice for the development of business models and real growth strategies in the IT channel that advance the solution provider, managed services, and cloud solutions markets.

Ryan is a host on The Killing IT Podcast and has been a featured speaker at more than 250 conferences over the years.

Visit his web site at

Manuel Palachuk is the author of Getting To The Next Level: A Blueprint For Taking You And Your Business To The Top, and the upcoming book Agile Service Delivery: The Ultimate Secret To Making Work Flow. He has over 30 years of business, management, and training experience in the computer and electronics industries. He has owned several successful businesses, managed several successful IT and MSP service companies, and coached or mentored many more around the world.

Manuel is a thought leader on Agile as applied to Business Strategy and is a featured speaker on this topic.

Visit his web site at

-- -- -- 

Members: Click Here for Registration Info inside the Community

Non-members: You'll need to join in order to follow that link.


Friday, July 03, 2020

The Elements of Culture

We started this discussion a couple of weeks ago (WOW - June disappeared on me).

Let’s back up a minute and define what we mean by culture. I define culture as the values and habits of a group. Company culture is, therefore, the values and habits of a company’s employees. This sounds very simple, but there are many pieces to an intentional culture (as opposed to one that grows from the bottom up).

Values. The most important element is a set of agreed-upon values. In many ways, you see the values of my company culture reflected throughout my books and blogs. For example, I always say that we only work with people we like. Employees know what that means. They understand the implications it has on how we conduct business.

Your values could be written out. That’s never a bad idea. But don’t just jot down something that sounds good. If you’re going to write down your values, you need to spend time considering all the possible values you could have and narrowing down the list to the handful that are most important to you in your business.

Here’s the secret to understanding values: You can never hide your values because they show up in your behavior. For example, you can say you value open communication. But if everyone is afraid to disagree with the boss for fear they’ll be yelled at, that’s the actual value that’s being lived inside the company.

When I was the Site Manager for PC Software Support at HP’s Roseville, California plant, our section had a clear statement on the bottom of every form, every PowerPoint slide, and every memo: We place a high value on work-life balance. That is pretty unambiguous. 

So, when someone proposed bringing in a team on Sunday to tackle a job, every person in the section had the right to raise their hand and ask how that proposal was consistent with our stated focus on work-life balance. Note: That doesn’t mean we never worked on Sunday. But we did have the discussion in the context of the larger commitment.

Processes. Those who’ve read any of my books are now saying, “I was wondering how he was going to bring processes into this discussion.” The very simple truth is that you can never control people, but you can control your process. 

If you respect people, what is the process for them to have a public, open, safe disagreement about something? If you have a culture of friendliness, how do you work that into a tough schedule on tight deadlines?

We’ve all seen companies that do amazing work under difficult conditions. Understanding the culture that makes that possible always boils down to how they do it. How you do things is the definition of processes.

Processes allow you to standardize how people work together. They also bring consistency to all parts of your business. Whenever you answer a question that begins with “How do we,” you should write down the answer. That’s the beginning of your process.

Communications are also very important. To me, that is part of the process of culture building. You need to write down, agree on, and communicate these processes. And you should have a process for allowing feedback and discussions.

Team or Community. Your company can only start building an intentional culture once the members see themselves as part of the same team, community, or family. When people feel isolated, they cannot feel like part of the team.

Goals must include team goals. In my consulting companies, every single person had the following goal as the first goal on their quarterly goals and evaluation form:

Provide excellent technical support to our clients while contributing to
good relationships within [our company] and between us and our clients.

You can see the emphasis is on building relationships. Lots of stuff falls into the broad category of building relationships. It reflects our values and puts the relationship building at the top of what we expect from people.

You build your team in dozens – or hundreds – of ways. You need to keep culture in mind when hiring. You need to have meetings and get-togethers so the team members can get to know each other (individually and as a team).

In our hiring process, candidates are interviewed by the company president, their potential manger, and a few people they are working with. Everyone fills out the same evaluation form. One of the elements of that evaluation is “Good fit with our culture.” Whatever that means to the individual interviewers, it’s important that we all agree that someone will be a good fit. That’s part of maintaining and perpetuating our culture.

Once you begin to build the culture you want, you need to feed it and nurture it. You need to talk about it and everyone needs to hold everyone accountable for it.

Once you figure out exactly what you want your culture to look like (and this can take a long time), an interesting thing hap-pens: You just do it. You execute your values and your culture follows. Remember, you can’t hide your real values. So, once you’ve decided on a set of values and you begin living them, all the employees will see that.

If you value honesty, you’ll get honesty. If you value initiative, your employees will demonstrate initiative. If you value humor, you’ll find humor among your team members.

Whatever you decide to do with culture, you should talk openly about it. Eventually, you’ll see that your clients also see your culture. It will be reflected in how they are treated. They will see your honesty, integrity, and other values. Or whatever behavior reflects your real values.

Personally, I believe culture is the core of making a company truly reflect who you are and how you choose to show up in the world. 

I welcome any feedback you have.

-- -- 

Check out my new book - The Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery . . . 

How can you guarantee that your company delivers great service, has a great culture, and still manages to stay profitable? You need to follow certain “Unbreakable Rules” for success. Best-selling business author and coach Karl W. Palachuk draws on more than twenty thirty years of owning and running service-based businesses to present the rules his companies live by.

Lots of details at . . . 


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Great Class from Rayanne Buchianico: Financial Processes for the IT Service Firm

Financial Processes for the IT Service Firm – 5W07

Rayanne Buchianico
Taught By: Rayanne Buchianico

July 7 - August 4, 2020
Tuesdays 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern

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, an Enrolled Agent, a certified PSA consultant, 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 2019 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.

Each class is 50-60 minutes, although we often take extra time for questions.

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 Break even points

Week Four  
- Jobs, Budgeting, and Internal Controls

Week Five  
- Planning for Taxes
Only $299 per person

Note: Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community members: You never pay full price. Contact your Community Manager for your discount.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Culture is Built from the Top Down

Every company has a culture, whether they “created” it or not. The truth is, you can either let culture grow on its own or you can create it with intention. Another way to say this is that culture either grows from the top down or grows from the bottom up.

If you ignore culture, it will naturally grow from the bottom up. That means a culture of snide comments, greediness, bad service, unhappy employees, and un-loyal customers. The hardest culture to turn around is one you’ve accidentally created by not paying attention as it evolved.

Before I started my own business, I had to turn around the culture in a few companies as a manager. I know from experience that this can be a challenge. In one case, it required firing some-one who was truly committed to the old (bad) culture I inherit-ed. That was actually the first person I ever fired.

She knew that she was a key team member and probably the most knowledgeable person on the team, so she was also defiant and refused to change. I went to the general manager of the company when I decided that this person needed to go. The GM asked me if I understood the impact on the team. I said yes, but assured her that the impact would be temporary and everything would get better fast without this poisonous attitude on the team.

I don’t recommend firing someone as a sacrificial lamb just to start turning your culture around. It could certainly backfire if you do it wrong. But in this case, we had a team of about twenty-five people and we’d had many meetings about changes that need to be made. When I fired the trouble-maker, everyone knew that we were serious, that we’ll do what it takes, and there’s no turning back.

If you have a newer company, or are just starting to hire people, there’s an important lesson here. You create culture from the top down by doing what you say and being what you want others to be. You literally lead by example. If you are calm, rational, and respectful, your employees will be as well. If you yell and scream and drive fear into others, your employees will as well.

The other big example of turning around a culture was less dramatic but also more difficult. I inherited a culture of laziness. People on the team would not take on difficult jobs. They ignored the parts of a job that they didn’t like. They did lots of things just a little below their skill level. They did not stretch and did not attempt to excel.

In this case, I simply announced that we were putting a premium on fixing everything with the first touch. In other words, people were applauded for closing a service ticket with one visit and zero re-work. The initial response was a lot of “what if” questions about exceptions to the rule and how to move for-ward when you don’t know what to do.

That was actually a lucky reaction for me. It allowed me to start putting in place a series of procedures in response to the various objections. You need to escalate to someone with specific skills? Here’s how to engage them. You hit a problem you don’t understand? Here’s how to get assistance. And so forth. 

My response to all objections was to create processes and procedures that showed everyone how to push through and complete the task under any circumstances. The result was that their attitude shifted from seeing only obstacles to seeing fixes.

In the end, that attitude shift raised the technical ability of everyone on the team. They learned better troubleshooting skills, better documentation skills, better skills for working with others who had specialized knowledge. And as they learned to call on each other for various challenges, they grew together as a team.

Before the shift, people tended to think of themselves in terms of “Me against the system.” Now it became “Us against the problem.”

Next up: The Elements of Culture

-- -- -- 

Check out my new book - The Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery . . . 

How can you guarantee that your company delivers great service, has a great culture, and still manages to stay profitable? You need to follow certain “Unbreakable Rules” for success. Best-selling business author and coach Karl W. Palachuk draws on more than twenty thirty years of owning and running service-based businesses to present the rules his companies live by.

Lots of details at . . . 


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

5-Week Class - Service Agreements for IT Consultants - Starts June 2nd

Service Agreements for SMB Consultants - Applying the Book

Next Offering:

- Five Tuesdays - June 2 - June 30

- 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.

Please watch the video:

Not sure why Blogger doesn't used a widescreen thumbprint

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.

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.

Register Now

Register Now

Only $299

(Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community members: Ask the Community Manager for your discount on this course.)

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 webinars will be recorded and made available to paid attendees only.
  • All calls start at 9:00 AM Pacific Time
Questions? Email


Friday, May 22, 2020

Pre-Order My Next Book - and Save Girls from Sex Trafficking

I know that sounds dramatic, but it's true.

Many of you follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. You may have seen that I'm working with a group of techies to help AIM - Agape International Missions - to develop new training programs for girls and women who have been rescued from sex trafficking in Cambodia.

And when I say "rescued," I mean that there's a professional SWAT team that kicks down doors, works with the local police, rescues the girls, and then prosecutes the ring leaders.

But once removed from that world, the girls need an education and vocational training so they can learn to make a living doing something productive. In this way, they are not tempted back to the sex trade as their only way to make money.

Anyway . . .

I've decided to use my next book launch as a way to help raise money for AIM.

Here's the offer:

If you pre-order this book for $29.95, I will donate $25 to AIM.

You also have the opportunity to donate additional amounts.

Learn More and Order Now

Details on the Book

How can you guarantee that your company delivers great service, has a great culture, and still manages to stay profitable? You need to follow certain “Unbreakable Rules” for success. In this book, I draw on almost thirty years of owning and running service-based businesses to present the rules my companies live by.

These rules will help you align your personal and professional goals while creating "standard operating procedures" to automate successful habits. Notice that “The customer is always right” is not on the list. Why? Because everyone knows that’s not true. Customers are frequently wrong, or would make bad decisions if we didn’t help them to make good decisions.

I don't waste your time giving lip service to worn out platitudes. Instead, this book is focused on building a great, successful business in the 21st Century. And since the rules are absolutely unbreakable, they will stand the test of time and the changing business environment.

This book is NOT just for IT Professionals. If you own or manage ANY service business, this book is for you.

I hope to be done writing in the next couple of weeks. It is my goal to release the print and ebook editions in July 2020.

Details on the Mission

I introduced AIM above. This are a top-notch NGO, and among the most highly rated charities you will ever find. You can learn more about them, and donate directly if you wish, on their web site

For a bit about what my friends and I are up to - working to help AIM create new training opportunities - my friend Jeff Ponts and I put together this "Report to the Community" on our trip to Cambodia in February 2020:

Video: Report to the Community
In your lifetime, there are just a few things that pop up in front of you and you realize you have to get involved. This is one of those missions for me.

I know money is tight for many people. But if you can spare anything, it is appreciated. It costs about $1,000 to rescue a girl from sex trafficking. Please consider buying a book and adding something on top of that.

Learn More and Order Now

Also - Please share this with your friends inside and outside the technology industries.

Thank you in advance for all your support!!!


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Sherweb Wants You to Take My MSP Business Course - On Them!

100% Actionable Content!
Massive content and handouts . . .

Killer Combo 2020
– Take your business to the next level with Cloud Services and Managed Services - FREE

Taught by Karl W. Palachuk, author and coach

Five Tuesdays: June 2 - June 30
PLUS a coaching call on July 7th

Register Now

All classes start a 11:00 AM Pacific / 2:00 PM Eastern

This super jam-packed six-week program has a real world value of $1,999 - But Sherweb wants to invite you for FREE.

You do not need to be a current Sherweb partner.

This is NOT a Sherweb-focused marketing event. This is a six-week educational program filled with education, including office hours and homework. The focus is 100% on improving your business in the cloud.

Each session lasts one hour.

All content will be 100% actionable. Here’s what you’ll learn:
1. Building a successful business is easier than you think
2. How to create the right package for your clients
3. Make more money with the right offering
4. Why checklists are so important
5. It’s time to sharpen your sales strategies
6. Get personal tips from Karl in an interactive call

Lots more details - and a welcome video are at:

Class starts very soon.