Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye and Good Riddance to 2009

Tomorrow - January 1, 2010 - will be a happy day for me. Not because of anything in particular except that it won't be 2009!

I am generally happy to own more than one company and to wake up every day picking and choosing what I want to do today. And for the most part that still holds true. But both businesses faced some real challenges this year, which makes it doubly tough some times.

Probably the best comment on the economy came from Motorola(1) Channel Chief Janet Schijns (see Motorola: Don't Blame the Economy.

    "Are you willing to make the claim that your business is only doing well because of the economy?


    Then you can't make the claim that your business is only doing poorly because of the economy!"

Bam! Right between the eyes. I'll always take the credit when my company kicks booty. So now that line is stuck in my head like a Weird Al Yankovic song and I can never blame the economy when it affects my business.

Realistically, here's where we went (up and down) in 2009.

We started down because we fired our largest client in late 2008. PITA x10. Not worth the effort. Then the stock market crashed and all of our clients took a collective deep breath. Which is to say, they stopped spending so they could figure out what's going on.

We laid off a technician in January, primarily because of the client we'd fired. Revenue climbed generally upward for the first half of the year. At some point we had replaced the lost revenue but not the technician. Thank you Zenith(2) and Autotask(3).

The best, hardest lesson we learned this year is that we need to be nimble and quick at cutting costs when revenues decline. Unfortunately, labor is the primary cost in our business. And that means I had to learn to lay off people I really like in order to keep my business in the black. This was very painful in July when our discretionary labor was 5% of what we had project it would be. Slashing people is very painful.

In the middle of the year our clients' pain was reflected in our primary revenue stream: Monthly managed services. As clients dropped a desktop here and a desktop there, their payments floated down a little each month. I think July was the bottom. After that they started adding a desktop here and a desktop there. Many are poised to do some hiring in January and we're already seeing action on that front.

So we've had a tough year. But we're ending the year solidly in black. Our EBITDA will probably be around 13% (which doesn't suck but also doesn't diminish the pain we went through).

On the Personal/Business side, my Brother Manuel is gradually moving to do high-end consulting on his own, so he's moving out of the daily operations at KPE. This is personally challenging to me because I have enjoyed working with him and having him to rely on for the last five years. He leaves a huge void that cannot be filled by a normal human being. We will literally need two or three people to replace him. I'm hoping we have the first one on board now.

I will miss him personally and professionally. Next Summer he's moving to Florida.

On the totally personal side, my family has had a very rough year. The details are no one's business, but suffice it to say that I learned the very hard lesson that you can't make other people no matter what you do. Everyone has to be personally responsible for how they react to the world around them. Anyway, my wife and I have been together for 21 years but probably won't make our next anniversary in March. [Insert misc. painful experiences here.]

On the bright side, my daughter Victoria is 17.67 years old. She is the absolute light of my life and apple of my eye. We have always been close and have grown closer since my wife moved out. I will be extremely sad when Victoria goes off to college in Fall of 2010, but we have a great buncha months ahead of us. And to be honest I am very proud of the fact that she is a strong and independent woman. She'll do great at college and love the freedom as well as the intellectual challenge.

Moving Up; Looking Ahead

I have been accused by friends(4) of being too optimistic. But I gotta tell you, 2010 will kick butt around here. KPEnterprises has a written goal of doubling our top-line revenue in the next 12 months. If the last week is any indication, we'll do just fine. We have campaigns outlined and I'm hoping to pull off a marketing stunt that has never been done before in the I.T. consulting space by any partner of any size.

Of course I'll write that up for you and sell it online at SMB Books. :-)

KPE will have a huge focus on Cloud Services. If the Zenith Smart Style on-premise cloud offering is as great as it looks, we plan to sell the heck out of it.(5)

GLB is launching a whole new venture with a very special partner. Please join me January 6th to find out more about that. Register for my "State of the Nation" address

GLB will focus more on Cloud Services as well. Of course we won't abandon the things we've done before. But GLB now has a staff of five people (mostly part timers) and we can take on some pretty cool things. So we're looking forward to a great new year.

After a couple years of building, GLB is poised to do some awesome things. We have decent revenue at this point but very low profit. But I believe we now have the base to begin moving up.

As for my personal activity, I am hoping to finish one book being co-authored with a new author on an amazing topic that's totally fresh to our space. Stay tuned. I won't let you miss that. And then I am hoping to release two other books on my own in 2010. If my staff can take care of business and leave me alone, I might just get another one out that's been on the back burner for a couple of years.

Doing What I Love

Of all the things I do in all my roles, the most fun I have is when I'm:

- Spending time with my daughter

- Traveling and meeting people (Conferences definitely count. The way I do conferences, they're not work.)

- Writing

In 2010 I'm going to balance these things and I plan to love doing it. If I can make the travel profitable (not just break-even), then I'll do more of it. I'm hoping my daughter and I can make our way to the U.K. in the Spring and I'm hoping I can make that long-overdue trip to Australia in the Fall.

Yeah, 2009 sucked a lot. And 2010 will be a huge amount of work for me. But I'm going to totally grab the bull by the horns and wrestle 2010 to the ground. I'll make it a great year! You just wait and see.

- - - - -

(1) The FTC Guidelines are stupid. I have not been paid by Motorola to say anything about anything. I haven't received free gifts or anything else from Motorola. This is not an endorsement of anything. I don't even know what product Motorola was pimping at the Comptia show. Did I mention that the FTC Guidelines are stupid?

(2) The FTC Guidelines are stupid. KPEnterprises has a complicated relationship with Zenith. We have received free service from them. We do not officially endorse their product, but we love it and are happy to tell everyone about it. To my knowledge I have never uttered any misleading or false statements about Zenith Infotech. Great Little Book has received advertising dollars from Zenith Infotech for print and online advertisements. GLB has also offered free advertising space to Zenith because we have a great relationship with them. GLB does not officially endorse Zenith but I personally own both KPE and GLB so I'm completely aware of the relationship. To my knowledge these facts have been disclosed openly and the FTC Guidelines are stupid.

(3) The FTC Guidelines are stupid. KPEnterprises uses Autotask. We have not received anything from them for free (as far as I know). We did receive setup fee discounts when we switched over to Autotask, but I don't think these were different than would be offered to anyone switching from another PSA system. I am not paid to endorse Autotask or any other product. I do not endorse Autotask or any other product. I love ConnectWise but we don't currently use it. I love Autotask and we do currently use it. Great Little Book has received advertising dollars from Autotask for print and online advertisements. GLB has also offered free advertising space to Autotask because we have a great relationship with them. GLB does not officially endorse Autotask but I personally own both KPE and GLB so I'm completely aware of the relationship. If anyone actually reads my blog they know all this and the FTC Guidelines are stupid.

(4) The FTC Guidelines are stupid. These friends are intimately tied to the SMB and MSP communities and if I named them by name I'd have to disclose baby gifts, Christmas gifts, book deals, co-marketing campaigns, beer Visas, advertising dollars, and a spider web of interrelated pimping activities worthy of a large purple hat. So I ain't sayin' nothin. The FTC sucks. Just my opinion. No one paid me to say that.

(5) The FTC Guidelines are stupid. See #2 above. Blah blah blah. May contain trans fats.


Register now for Karl's State of the Nation Address for SMB Consulting


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is This a Good Decision for My Business?

I run KPEnterprises - The Best I.T. Consulting Business in Sacramento. And like you I sometimes need to make difficult decisions. And as we grow, my staff need to make these decisions without bothering me.

Some decisions are very easy: YES we do that; or NO we don't do that. Some are based on money: If you want us to work after 5:00 PM the cost is higher. If you're okay with that, then let's schedule it.

But there are also many decisions that could go either way. Someone wants a price break. Can we include the PC tune-up in the initial install? Most of these decisions are money decisions. And there's always a tendency to push money decisions up the ladder to the top. That's true no matter how small the dollar amount is.

I've had technicians track me down, leave voice mails, and drag me out of meetings to ask whether they can give away a network cable that costs $3. Maybe it's their personality. Maybe their previous boss would have killed them for this. I don't know why people do such things -- except that they have never been told that it's okay to make a decision!

There are a few guidelines out there for handing off decisions to your staff. One of the more popular ones is based on dollar amount. For example, if the item in question is under $25, just do what makes the customer happy. It might be $50 or $100 or whatever.

A twist on this is that one level of employee (line tech) has a $25 discretionary spending and another (supervisor/manager) has a higher spending limit.

That's all good, but doesn't address the more important question. Without regard to dollar amounts, Is This a Good Decision for My Business? In our case, that translates into Is This a Good Decision for KPEnterprises?

Here are a few guidelines we wrote up for our company. I originally got this idea after reading How to Make a Buck and Still Be a Decent Human Being by Richard C. Rose and Echo Montgomery Garrett.

Is This a Good Decision for KPEnterprises?
  • Question 1: Is it the right thing for the client?

  • Question 2: Is it the right thing for KPEnterprises?

  • Question 3: Is it ethical?

  • Question 4: Is it something for which you are willing to be held accountable?

  • Question 5: Is it consistent with KPEnterprises' basic beliefs and goals?

  • Question 6: Is this a client we want to keep?

If the answer to all of these questions is "YES" then do it!

Just in case you think this is an easy thing you can pass on to your technicians and administrative assistants this afternoon, please remember: You staff have to be able to answer these questions!

In other words, they have to be able to discern what is the best thing for the client, and for your company. You have to agree on what is ethical. They have to know what it means to be accountable. They have to know your (the company's) core beliefs and goals. And they have to know which clients you want to keep.

The good news is: cheating is encouraged. That means your staff can talk to each other when you're not around. The more they practice going through this list, the more they will come to a common understanding of the answers.

The most fearful question is "Is this a client we want to keep?" Uh. They better get that one right. In reality you probably have very few clients you don't want to keep. So make it easy on your staff. Fire the marginal clients now and then your staff will know that you definitely want to keep the rest. :-)

I'm not a fan of the term "empowering" (makes me think of the Fantastic Four and I get distracted). But if you want to enable your employees to make good decisions and learn to have more of an owner/stakeholder mentality, then you need to spend a little time on the education necessary to make this work.

Your list doesn't have to be my list. But think about what is on your list. What 5-6 questions need to be asked so that your staff can do their jobs better and more independently, leaving you more time to do your own job?

- - - - -
Join my weekly email list and keep up on events in the SMB and MSP community.


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ten Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail

January 1st is just around the corner. It's time to evaluate the health of your business. Not just its pulse, which is one factor, but a serious look at the key things that make a business go.

If you've heard me speak in the last five years, you know that I beat people over the head with Michael Gerber's book The E-Myth Revisited. Here's a little bit of what I tell folks about this book:

- If I could make every business owner in the world read one book, this would be it.

- I recommend that you re-read this book every year.

Gerber spends a lot of time looking at what makes businesses successful - and unsuccessful. And he comes up with some great rules for organizing and systematizing your business. He also comes up with ten major reasons why Small Businesses fail.

Take some time and consider - honestly - how your business stacks up as the New Year begins.

Gerber's Ten Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail

1. Lack of management systems, such as financial controls.

2. Lack of vision or purpose by principals.

3. Lack of financial planning and review.

4. Over dependence on specific individuals in the business.

5. Poor marketing strategy.

6. Failure to establish or communicate company goals.

7. Competition and/or lack of market knowledge.

8. Inadequate capitalization.

9. Absence of standards for quality and performance.

10. Owners concentrate on the technical rather than the strategic.

Most people focus on #10 when they discuss Gerber's books. And that's totally fair. After all, one of his fundamental arguments is that people start businesses based on their skills. They are essentially technicians and not business people. Of course they find themselves as technicians running a business.

That's how I got started. That's basically how we all got started.

But as I review this list I can't ignore the first nine items. As I travel around and talk to consultants of all sizes, I find that most small businesses have most of these problems! To some extent you might expect that with new businesses or extremely small (1-3 person) shops. In fact all businesses struggle with these issues again and again as they grow.

Having successfully addressed each of these items, a business must be vigilant to address them again and again. This is true because the world keeps spinning. Having created a good management system, for example, the business world evolves. And therefore the management system must be re-created in light of the new world order.

The same is true for vision and purpose, financial planning, and all the rest. The work of working on your business is never completed.

Remember, these are the top ten reasons small businesses fail. It only takes one of these to fail! So you need to continually tune up all of them. And don't be too confident because you haven't addressed these and you haven't failed yet. The fact that you haven't failed "yet" doesn't protect you from the future!

A Few Weeks Ago a gentleman came up to me after one of my presentations. He looked at the price of our new book (about two hours labor) and commented that there's a growing crowd of people making money off of computer consultants. Well, I suppose that's true. Consider companies like MSPU, MSPSN, Cloud Services Depot, and Virtual Administrator. Consider coaches such as George Sierchio, Matt Makowicz, and Stuart Selbst. Consider marketing wizard Robin Robins and a handful of newcomers.

In some sense it's true that there's a growing crowd of people with a package or a product to sell to SMB Consultants. But it's also the case that this "crowd" stays in business because they help consultants address The Top Ten dangers listed above.

You might learn all your lessons yourself, painfully and one at a time. You'll pay full price for this education. Or you can engage someone to help you address the issues that are challenging you and put yourself on solid footing.

When I look at spending money for my business, I always consider two factors. One is how many hours of labor do I need to sell to pay for it. In other words, I don't think in dollars directly but in labor exchange. I have a limited number of hours to sell in a month. Once "spent" on one thing, those hours are not available to spend on something else.

So ASCII costs me one hour per month. Robin Robins costs me one hour per month. With travel requirements, Taylor Business Group costs me 15-20 hours per year.

The second thing I consider is how the new thing will make me money or save me money. ASCII saves me thousands of dollars per month. Robin Robins' program only needs to help me get one tiny little client to pay for itself. TBG needs to help me save a few hours OR get a new client.

Unfortunately, I am never removed from the equation. None of these things matters at all if I spend the money and let the resources pile up on a shelf. I need to work every day to make these things pay for themselves. But in the end, every one of them is worthwhile if I'm putting out the effort to work on my business.

And that brings us back to Gerber. His greatest call to action is that someone needs to work on your business and not just IN your business. If you're the owner, then you're the best candidate to take time to work on the business instead of working in the business.

Review that top ten this week. You probably have Friday off, right. Spend some time taking stock of where you are and what you need to work on in the year ahead.

If I can help, ping me.

- - - - -
Join my weekly email list and keep up on events in the SMB and MSP community.


Now Shipping:
The Network Migration Workbook:
Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Vlad, Erick, Karl End of Year Wrap-Up

I don't do this for everyone.*

For years now - maybe four? - Vlad and Erick and I have gotten together to summarize the year gone by and speculate about the year ahead.

Over the years the three of us have "grown apart" in the sense that our business models are more divergent each year. We do three very different things. But we each connect with the small business consulting community in more than one way.

If you haven't tuned in The Spam Show, check it out at Vlad's Facebook page: There you'll find Vlad, Erick, me, and the occasional "other" guest.

The most recent guest was Monique Rogers. She described how the technicians at Chartec are dressed in janitor dungarees and sprayed with Old Spice as they enter the workplace. And then we discuss the twists and turns of H.R. policy that created this Nerd Nirvana.

As you might suspect, we have fun. We give a little perspective. And we have more fun.

Please join us for this once-a-year show. The specifics and registration link are on Vlad's blog:

*I'm a bit of a whore, so I'll do this for everyone.


It's Coming . . .
The Best NOC and Service Desk Operations Book Ever!

by Erick Simpson

Ships very very very soon!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SMB Books FREE Sampler CD

Well, the SMB Community shines once again. We asked some of our authors to put together materials for us to distribute. The only requirement is that it be Truly Useful. We wanted to offer a free CD Sampler of the kinds of materials available at SMB Books.

We only included material that has real value right now.

Much of the material on this Sampler CD is not available anywhere else. The disc includes more than seven hours of audio and video training plus hundreds of pages of excellent content.

We are providing this CD Free as a way to showcase our authors -- and the great resources you'll find at

Note: The CD also contains our most recent catalog -- and that catalog includes a discount code for use at SMB Books.

Here's some of what you'll find on the CD:

Contributor: Robert Crane
  • Utilizing SharePoint to Improve Your Business - PDF

  • Utilizing SharePoint to Improve Your Business- PowerPoint

  • Windows SharePoint Services Operations Guide Ch1 - Intro - PDF

  • How we use SharePoint- PDF

  • Six Secrets of Selling SharePoint - PDF

  • SMB Conference Call September 24, 2008 - MP3

Web site -
Blog -

Contributor: Karl W Palachuk
  • Relax Focus Succeed Chapter 1 - part I - MP3

  • Relax Focus Succeed Chapter 1 - part II - MP3

  • Managed Services Town Hall Q & A - Recorded Live - Fall 2009 - MP3

Blog - Small Biz Thoughts
Web - SMB Books
Web - Great Little Book Publishing
Mailing List: Join my weekly email list

Contributor: Robin Robins
  • The 9-Step Marketing Secret That Will Double Your Computer Consulting Business In 6 Month Or Less - zip file w/12 MP3 tracks

Blog - Technology Marketing Toolkit
Free Articles On IT Marketing -
Technology Marketing Toolkit -

Contributor: Andrew Rogerson
  • Andrew Rogerson Interview by Karl Palachuk - MP3

Email - [email protected]
Web -
Web - Successfully Buy Your Business
Web - Successfully Sell Your Business

Contributor: George Sierchio
  • Exit Strategy Webinar - WMV

Web -
Free Biz Analysis
Blog -

Contributor: Erick Simpson
  • How to Succeed with Managed Services - Part 1 Overview - wmv

  • How to Succeed with Managed Services - Part 2 Pricing - wmv

  • How to Succeed with Managed Services - Part 3 Agreement - wmv

  • How to Succeed with Managed Services - Part 4 Monitoring - wmv

  • How to Succeed with Managed Services - Part 5 Marketing - wmv

  • How to Succeed with Managed Services - Part 6 Trusted Advisor - wmv

Linked In -
MSPU Blog -
MSPU Newsletter - MSPU Newsletter Registration
MSPU Website -

Contributor: Dave Sobel
  • Virtualization: Defined - Disk Performance - PDF

  • Virtualization: Defined - Selling Virtualization - PDF

Evolve Technologies website:
Evolutionary Thoughts Business Blog:
Evolve Technologies on Twitter:
SMB Virtualization website and Virtualization blog:
SMB Virtualization on Twitter:

- - - - -

Do we get carried away?

Oh Yeah!

I want to thank all the contributors to the SMB Sampler CD. They are true community members and are providing YOU with hundreds of dollars worth of valuable information here.

I also thank Lana Shurayev, our super-human admin, for spending so much time collecting, formatting, and coding this CD. She's awesome.

Thank them for their efforts.

Now, how do you get this massive collection of goodness?

We will ship it free for the asking. No you can't download it. It's about 400 MB and I'm just not doing that.

Here's what you do:
- Go to the Request Page.
- Fill out the form. You must give us your shipping information in order to receive the CD
- Put "Sampler CD" in the box labeled "Products You Want"

- If you have an address that does not lend itself to our US-centric form, please email us with the exact address information and format. You still need to fill out the form!

Please be patient. The CDs will ship immediately (the next business day). But we expect a high demand.

Twitter Quiz Answers and Winners

Well the big Twitter Quiz took more real-time interaction than I expected, but was fun by all reports.

Here's a summary of the questions and answers. The decision of the judges is final. Remember the rules: This is supposed to be fun.

Question: What color 54 Convertible does Eartha Kitt want from Santa?
Answer: Light Blue (from the song Santa Baby. EK's version is the absolute best)

Question: What's the name of the Grinch's dog?
Answer: Max

Question: In what movie did Bing Crosby first sing "White Christmas?"
Answer: Holiday Inn. The movie White Christmas was made in reaction to the popularity of this song. The best selling single song of all time because it sells millions each year on top of all previous years.

Question: Which three famous reindeer names begin with the letter D?
Answer: Dasher, Dancer, Donner. Would have accepted Dunder, the original name in the original poem.

Question: What was the name of the star that guided the three kings to Bethlehem?
Answer: The Star of Bethlehem. Kind of a Microsoft-type trick question.

Question: Which Christmas carol includes the phrase Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la?
Answer: Deck the Halls. Although I almost gave it to "All of them after enough eggnog."

Question: What's the name of Charles Dickens' story about Ebenezer Scrooge?
Answer: A Christmas Carol

Question: Where is Christmas Island?
Answer: Indian Ocean near Australia. Lotta responses from down under on this one.

Question: Where did the real St. Nicholas live?
Answer: Turkey

Question: Which Sesame Street characters share names with characters in It's A Wonderful Life?
Answer: Bert and Ernie. They're the police officers.

Question: Which country do poinsettias originally come from?
Answer: Mexico

Question: Question: In Miracle on 34th Street, which store hires Kris Kringle?
Answer: Macy's

Question: Who was that Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree?
Answer: Brenda Lee. Yeah, other people sang it. Other people also sang Santa Baby. But there's only one version that counts.

Question: Who sang Run Run Rudolph?
Answer: Chuck Berry

Question: How come Spike Jones Ain't Gettin Nuttin' for Christmas?
Answer: "Cuz I Ain't Been Nuttin But Bad"

Question: Why can't Ralphie have a Red Rider BB Gun?
Answer: He'll shoot his eye out. For the uninitiated, this is from the movie Christmas Story, based on a story by, and narrated by Jean Shepard. Stars Darren McGavin and Peter Billingsley.

Question: What is Bruce Willis' most famous Christmas Movie?
Answer: Die Hard. Second place: Die Hard 2.

Question: Why was Jesus born in a manger?
Answer: There was no room at the inn

Question: Who wrote/sang "Ole Tex Kringle's on His Way?"
Answer: Tex Ritter

Question: What did Good King Wenceslas look out upon?
Answer: The Feast of Stephen (December 26th)

Question: In the song Sleigh Ride, what are friends calling?
Answer: Yoo Hoo. "Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling Yoo Hoo."

Question: Jingle Bell Time is a swell time for what?
Answer: To go riding in a one horse sleigh. "It's the right time to rock the night away. Jingle Bell Time is a swell time to go riding in a one horse sleigh." (Jingle Bell Rock)

Question: I'll be home for Christmas if only . . . ?
Answer: If only in my dreams

Question: The weather outside is frightful. What is the fire?
Answer: The fire is so delightful. And since we've no place to go . . . Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Question: Who sang "What will Santa Claus Say When He Finds Everybody Swinging?"
Answer: Louis Prima. Awesome singer and a great Christmas song that needs more attention than it has received.

- - - - -

And the Winners Are . . .

Some people won more than once, but here's the crowd of winners.


These are the Twitter names for these folks and I encourage you to follow them. After all, they've already demonstrated that they're fun people by playing this quiz.

- - - - -

I hope everyone had fun. We'll do this again.


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Please Participate in the SBS Customer Experience Improvement Program

I was in a secret meeting with the Home and Small Business Server development team last month, held deep in an underground cave in an undisclosed city just across the water from Seattle. The discussion was about the future (As William Gibson says, "The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.”). So I can't tell you about that.

But . . .

An interesting side conversation erupted about the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP).

The CEIP is that one check box in the server install that gives you the option to send some anonymous configuration information to Microsoft. Many people (I get the sense most people) disable this function.

Dean Paron, Principal Architect for the Home and Small Business Server products, was quite interested in getting more people to opt-in to this program. Of course, like you, I wanted to know why WE should care. Here is Dean's response:

    "At a high level, the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) collects information about how our customers use our programs, the problems they encounter, and automatically sends that information back to Microsoft on a regular basis. Each team at Microsoft 'instruments' their product to collect the most useful information for the product development team.

    For example, on SBS, we collect a variety of information, such as which wizards are commonly accessed, what error conditions are encountered by customers, how heavily our partner applications such as SharePoint are being used, and what common network topologies are deployed. Each of these pieces of information is critically valuable to us as a development team, because it lets us know where to focus in future updates, service packs and major releases. On the Home and Small Business Server team, we review this information regularly - at least monthly, and often more so, depending on the decision that we're trying to make."

As you can imagine, there are some architectural changes coming in the next generation of SBS and Home Server. Not just on the server itself, but in recognition of the network environment in which the server sits.

Think about the generational changes from Proxy Server to ISA. Now ISA is out. In the meantime universal plug and play routers dominate the scene. The wizards evolve over time in response to the physical environment, the related products shipped with (or sold separately from) SBS, and how you actually configure and use all that.

As Dean told me, they really want a lot larger participation in this program.

If you've ever taken a statistics class you know that you need a large enough sample to get an accurate representation of the whole. In this case, you need enough people participating in the CEIP so that you can safely say they represent the actual user base.

I can't tell a good story about why the people who opt-in are different from the people who don't. But my Ph.D. training tells me there IS a difference even if we don't know what it is.

How can you help? Here's Dean again:

    "Participation in CEIP is optional for Microsoft customers, and you can choose to opt-in or opt-out at any time. Typically, Microsoft presents the choice to opt-in during the initial product setup and configuration, and those settings can be later tweaked in an options or preferences menu. For example, the CEIP settings for SBS 2008 can be accessed in the Getting Started list. We're also very careful to protect our customer's privacy: all CEIP data points collected are extensively reviewed during the development process to ensure that they don't contain any Personally Identifiable Information, such as customer names, addresses or phone numbers."

There are no surprises here. You knew this option existed. But like me you probably never gave it much thought. We all have an interest is making SBS continue to be an awesome product. Your SBS Dev Team would like your assistance.

BTW, this is the second request I've had to check that box. The last time it was Paul Fitzgerald asking me to make sure The Network Migration Workbook included it in the big 220 page checklist. :-)

You can read more about the Customer Experience Improvement Program at the following website.


Now Shipping:
The Network Migration Workbook:
Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Microsoft Networks

Erick Simpson on Today's (Final) SMB Conference Call

Erick Simpson from Managed Services Provider University will join us at 9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern to discuss . . . Well just about everything in the SMB Space. This will include his new book - The Best NOC and Service Desk Operations Book Ever!

Register Now!

Back in January of 2008 we kicked off the SMB Conference Call with author Erick Simpson. I didn't realize way back then how much we would accomplish, how much the industry would change, and how long the SMB Conference Call would last.

One thing that has not changed: Erick is a "mover and shaker" in the managed services arena and great author, speaker, and trainer. Many people in our industry owe a piece of their success to Erick personally and also to Gary and the other folks at Managed Services Provider University.

Whether you've heard Erick on a Microsoft webcast, attended an MSPU event, or even on the SMB Conference call, I'm sure you'll agree it is always worthwhile to find out what Erick's up to. A quick review of the Conference Call Archives will give you a taste of the variety of topics on which Erick can speak. He has been a frequent contributor and we're honored to have him on one last time.

9:00 AM Pacific / 12:00 Eastern
Wed. December 16th
Register Now!

Tell all your friends and colleagues!

About Erick

Author: The Guide to a Successful Managed Services Practice, The Best I.T. Sales & Marketing BOOK EVER!, and others. All available at SMB Books

Related Links:

Managed Service Provider University

Erick's Email: [email protected]

- - - - -

Note for January:

Please join me for a very special one-hour "2010 State of The Nation Address for SMB Consulting"

I will try to give some thoughts about the year ahead, our industry, cloud computing, the state of the MSP industry.

At the end we will have a special guest and make an important announcement.

This call may or may not be posted for later broadcast. Please join us live.

January 6th, 2010
9:00 AM Pacific:

Register Now!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Robin Robins One Day Per Year Sale

Holy Smokes, Batman.

Just got this email from Robin Robins.

Please wait fifteen minutes so can buy whatever I want. Then check out the big scratch and dent sale at Robin's Site.

- - - - -

Robin's Email:

Hey Karl,

We just opened the doors for our "scratch-n-dent" sale where
you can get the Toolkit, Blueprint, 36 Month Millionaire
and other products at 50% off:

Robin's Site

These are legitimate copies of our products that are slightly
damaged or imperfect, which prevents us from selling them as
"new." So if you don't mind a bit of dust or a smudge here
and there, you can get an absolute STEAL:

Robin's Site

But you have to HURRY...there are a limited number of these
products available at these crazy discounts.

Once these products are gone, they're gone - sorry, no exceptions!

Dedicated to your success,


Technology Marketing Toolkit, Inc.
2000 Mallory Lane
Suite #130-472
Franklin, TN 37067

Anyone Can Do Sales

[ Rant Warning ]

Anyone Can Do Sales

Anyone Can Do Marketing

Anyone Can Do Computer Support

Anyone Can Do Network Engineering

Anyone Can Do Business Coaching

Anyone Can Run a Consulting Business

. . .

Except: They Can't!

I recently did a Spam Show with Vlad Mazek and Monique Rogers (will be posted Here some day). We talked about H.R. - Human Resources and how much everyone hates to do H.R.

The hiring process can really suck up your time. And in the end you might not get the employee you want, need, love, and deserve.

KPEnterprises - Sacramento's premier Microsoft Certified Small Business Specialist - recently did a lot of hiring. I can officially say that I hate the H.R. job and have hit the limits of my patience with H.R.

I've seen thousands of resumes from people who aren't remotely qualified to touch a computer. They shouldn't be allowed to USE computers let alone fix them. What are they thinking? I'm too stoopid to know that they are less qualified than my cat? Do they think they'll get hired by accident and then just work out so we'll keep them on?

I honest-to-God don't know what they're thinking.

And we're not alone. If you go to a bunch of networking events (live, in person, in your town) you've seen that 30% of all unemployed professionals have now become "business coaches" of some kind. Life coach. Transcendental success coaches. Whatever.

There are people out there with skills, talent, education, certification, and a process that works. So you can't wake up one day and say "People like to take my advice. I'll become a business coach."

Sales is the same way. Everyone who's ever sold a used shirt at a yard sale thinks he's ripe to be a sales person. No. Sales people have skills, talent, education, certification, and a process that works. You promoted a failing product on LinkedIn? That doesn't make you a sales person.

True Story:

After two phone screenings, a resume review, and a skills matrix evaluation, I brought in a person to be interviewed for sales. I introduced myself, held out my hand, and she said "I don't shake hands."

I don't shake hands.

So now I have to update the advertisement: "Must not exhibit behavior that will lose the sale before you get three feet into a prospect's office."


It's the same story with marketing. Remember those in-person networking events? Well another 30% of the crowd are instant experts in marketing, social media, search engine optimization, and getting your message "out there." Hey, who needs Robin Robins when this unemployed investment banker can give you everything your business needs for $300?

Everyone knows I love Robin, but she's not unique in the universe. But she and a small group of other people have skills, talent, education, certification, and a process that works. They are the pros. Just because someone "figured out" Facebook doesn't make them a marketing pro. Twenty years of working your butt off makes you a pro.

Somehow everything that everyone else does looks easy.

Anyone can do that.

Except they can't.

We complain that "anyone" can get into the consulting business. They just print up a laser perf business card and start fixing things. But it's becoming the same with everything in our society.

"Anyone" can set up a home entertainment center. Well, anyone do a half-assed job of it.

Anyone can set up SBS incorrectly.

Anyone can create crappy ad copy.

Anyone can sell something to someone, even if it's the wrong thing at the wrong price.

Anyone can set up a network the wrong way.

Anyone can design their own server at Dell and end up with 1GB of RAM and a Celeron processor.

Anyone can build their own non-working off site backup strategy.

Anyone can build a desktop in the cloud that performs worse than a P3 with 256 MB of memory.

I don't want "Anyone"! I want someone with skills, talent, education, certification, and a process that works. I want the real thing. I want people and services and tools that work.

Sometimes that costs money. Anyone can fool themselves into thinking they're saving money by hiring a consultant who has never opened the case on a computer. You know who's qualified and who isn't. The hard part is finding clients who know the difference.

I'll be glad when the economy picks up and people go back to doing what they actually have skills, talent, education, and experience in. Insurance sales people should sell insurance. Bankers should bank. Construction workers should construct.

And I should get back to running my businesses and not screening nincompoops who think I'm going to ignore my own ad and hire the first person with a pulse who walks through the door -- even if they don't shake hands!

- - - - -

Warning: Later today I'm doing an interview and then going to lunch with a candidate for the sales position. If he dribbles food all over himself and starts talking about his porn collection, I'm going to stick my fork into his throat!

[ /Rant ]

That felt good.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

YOU Are Not A Waste of Time

Today was a weird, strange, productive, busy, day.

In some sense today was everything I needed it to be and the best day I've had in a long time.

Why? I didn't hire my sales guy. I didn't talk to my daughter (except by text message). I didn't send out a proposal. I didn't make any really big decisions. I didn't sign any deals. I started my work day at 7:00 AM, which is earlier than usual. I finished it at 7:30 PM, which is much later than usual.

So why was it a good day?

Because it was satisfying. I was super-busy and super focused.

As you may know, I held a Twitter-based Christmas quiz today. Well, today the magic thing that connects Twitter posts to Facebook was broken for most of the day. Then it was really slow the rest of the day. So I had people responding to 6 hour old quiz questions.

But I also had a high level of online interaction.

Aside from that, I talked to people on three continents today. That always makes me feel very "international." And I had long conversations with people about the vision and goals of both of my companies going into 2010.

I have a business coach who is part coach and part personal counselor. We had an hour-long chat today. So that got me pointed in the right direction.

We had a major development meeting at KPEnterprises around cloud computing strategies. No hard decisions, but some real clarity about options and some idea about budgets.

And just before finishing off the Twitter contest, I had a really great, relaxed conversation with a major player in our space about a super cool project we're going to launch next year. It was, as he said, a wide-ranging conversation about our industry.

Only one thing detracts from my day: a comment. Over a long interview/lunch with a sales candidate I mentioned the Twitter contest and how Facebook was giving me trouble. Another person at the table said he was so glad that he hasn't gotten into the Twitter/Facebook/social media thing. He speculated that he'd get hooked and waste all his time there.

Well that word waste really stood out to me.

With all these social media, I feel a kind of connection with a broad spectrum of people all over the country - and all over the world. Many (most) are in the I.T. business because that's where I hang out. But everyone has friends all over the place. And they have friends, etc. So I have plenty of connections with people who are far-flung and have nothing to do with computers. But they're still part of my network.

I have found myself inspired by a picture posted by a "stranger," touched by one comment, and angered by another. I have connected with people at different levels and I've felt a real sense of community in all of this.

Some people say that all these "Internet Friends" aren't real friends. That's just silly, in my opinion. In the last year I've connected with dozens of people who I used to know from high school, college, graduate school, former jobs, and old neighborhoods. In addition, I've made online connections with people I used to only know because we ran into each other at a conference once a year.

At work - at GLB and KPE - I had a great day because I went from one laser-focused activity to the next. I was "on" and "at capacity" every single hour. It was hugely productive because, even though I didn't sign any deals, I moved everything forward.

And online I had a great day because I connected with a lot of people and really enjoyed myself.

You can get carried away with anything, including social media. But in the right measure, online activity is NOT a waste of time. It is, in fact a great addition to my life.

You, my friends on this blog and Twitter and Facebook (etc.) are a wonderful part of my life. I appreciate you.

You are not a waste of time.


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

SMB Books Twitter Christmas Quiz

Welcome to the SMB Books Twitter Christmas Quiz!

Full Rules are posted here:

How To Play

The contest will be run on Thursday December 10th.

Questions will be posted throughout the day. A question can be posted at any time that day, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM Pacific Time.

You must be following @karlpalachuk on Twitter to receive the questions. (see

On Twitter, click REPLY and enter a response in the following format:

    Entry @karlpalachuk [Your Answer Here]

Note: You MUST add the word Entry before @karlpalachuk in order to be eligible to win.

Winners will be determined on a first come, first serve basis: The first respondent to reply with the correct answer in the correct format will win the prize.

No purchase necessary to enter or win.

To enter the contest, you must be the first to tweet to @karlpalachuk the correct answer to the trivia question.

You can will multiple times, so keep playing even if you win!

Note: Questions will appear in the format

    Prize = $50 off at - What color 54 Convertible does Eartha Kitt want from Santa?

We will discuss the answers and post the winners here.

OMG: I Love Zenith Infotech

If you haven't been reading this blog for very long, let me just say I Love Zenith Infotech.

One of the principle rules of success at KPEnterprises (Sacramento's premier small business consulting company) is "If it can be done by Zenith, assign it to Zenith."

One of the consistent messages I hear from Zenith management is "Bring it on. Keep throwing stuff at us until we squeak."

Well, after months of watching from the sidelines, we pulled the trigger this week and integrated Zenith with Autotask. The only real delay was that we had a series of junior technicians and no one who could take on the project and manage it through to completion.

Well, we have a new Level 2 tech with nothing better to do, so we started the integration.

Here's an example of the tickets we saw immediately:

    Log Date/Time: 12/09/2009 03:07 AM ET
    Account / Zenith Site ID:
    Device / Zenith Device ID:
    Autotask Ticket: T20091209.0001
    Zenith Ticket: 200912090000029
    Status / Zenith Status: Complete / NOC Completed
    Assigned To: Partner
    Assigned By: NOC
    Subject: Anti-Virus not synchronized on Server :-SIERRASBS
    Notes: This task is to notify you that NORTON Antivirus is Not Updating on Server SIERRASBS. NOC has carried out the necessary troubleshooting and now NORTON Antivirus is updated with Latest Antivirus Definitions. No action needs to be taken from your end. Note: In case, the issue re-occurs, we will troubleshoot further and will update you with the status.
    This e-mail was automatically generated for Autotask Account with Zenith PSG of 2DB52820514D4FC4. Please do not respond.

Okay. Whatever. Blah Blah Blah Ginger.

Here's the essence of that service request:

1) We found a problem with SAV updates

2) We created a ticket for the problem

3) We fixed the problem

4) Ticket closed

The sweetest words of all are: Please do not respond.

Not that we don't want a personal relationship, but Zenith found a problem, fixed a problem, created value for our client, and solved the problem. In other words . . .

    The first time we heard about this issue is after it was fixed.

How could we respond? Thanks. Imagine the disc space of millions of ticket entries that just said thanks.

- - -


I hear a lot of partners complain that they turned on integration with Zenith and got overwhelmed by the tickets. Oh My God. They're killing me. Boo hoo hoo.

But slow down and read through the tickets.

You got 50 new service requests regarding problems on your client computers. In the span of 5 hours, 45 of these were fixed. In the next 5 hours another three are fixed.

So: Zenith caught fifty issues you didn't know about and fixed 48 of them.

Just because you don't know about an issue doesn't mean it's not there. If Zenith is "spamming" your board there are lots of little things that were going un-done. Time to do them.

We recently went through an extremely busy time around here and I needed to hire some additional help. I have learned an important lesson in all that: You need the right personality to take charge of a project like this. You need to know that you're going to get a flood of tickets. You need to not freak out. And then you need a strategy for getting your arms around the new reality of your bigger, better service board.

For us the Zenith integration is pretty smooth. We're meeting daily to refine the system in response to interactions between Autotask and Zenith. We went through the same thing with ConnectWise. When you take two tools at the core of your business and get them to talk to each other, it takes a little extra attention.

We've loved Zenith for years. Today we love them more.


It's Coming . . .
The Best NOC and Service Desk Operations Book Ever!

by Erick Simpson

Sale Ends Soon!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

MSP Services Network (MSPSN) To Be Acquired

One of my good friends has some GREAT news to announce. Amy Luby of the MSP Services Network announced today that MSPSN is being acquired by High Street Technology Ventures. Amy has been a true evangelist for the Managed Services movement. In addition, she has created a program of success for her partners, and is responsible for some of the most innovative content available to MSP's and SMB Consultants today.

In fact, the acquisition announcement was made today from the Comptia conference in Washington, DC where MSPSN's content is the focus of the day. This is quite fitting.

If the last four years are any indication, we can expect even more amazing things from Amy and MSPSN in the future. Stay tuned.

Special SMB Conference Call Today - 4 PM Pacific
Please register for a Special SMB Conference Call - Wednesday December 9th at 4:00 PM Pacific / 7:00 PM Eastern.

Register Here:

We'll talk to Amy and discuss what this change means for MSPSN, the broader MSP community, and for the overall climate as we move into 2010.

I personally congratulated Amy yesterday. Today we begin the analysis of what this means for the broader community. Join us today at 4:00 PM Pacific.

- - - - -

Word of this announcement came to me via Brian Sherman of Tech Success Communications and forerly a partner advocate at Autotask. You can ping Brian at [email protected].

- - - - -

Here's the official announcement from Tech Success Communications:

MSP Services Network (MSPSN) To Be Acquired

Management changes and enhanced managed services offerings to result from purchase

Washington, DC - December 9, 2009 - MSP Services Network (MSPSN), the industry's leading provider of managed service support infrastructure, announced today at the CompTIA MSP Business Simulation Experience in Washington D.C. that it has signed a letter of intent to be acquired by High Street Technology Ventures. Under terms of the agreement, Gerard Kane will assume the role of CEO and Amy Luby, founder of MSPSN will be appointed to the board of directors when the transaction is completed. In her new strategic role, Luby will be responsible for shaping the future direction of the organization, while Kane will take an active role in the day to day activities of MSPSN.

MSPSN will continue to operate as a separate entity, with plans to increase the number of services it delivers to the existing base of partners as well as continue a rapid expansion of the network. "MSPSN has demonstrated the vision necessary to establish itself as a leader in the industry and I look forward to enhancing that position in the marketplace", commented Kane. "I'm excited for the timing of High Street's involvement," added Luby. "Solution providers are building their capacity for managed services delivery in their existing business, and these moves will allow MSPSN to evolve a new generation of services for this vibrant community."

MSPSN will continue to partner with a variety of managed services vendors to enhance the technology options available for members, including pre-configured solutions and best practices templates. According to Sheldon Waters, CEO of it Control Solutions, Inc. "We are very excited by the additional resources and expertise that Gerard and his team will bring to MSPSN, which Amy has already established as a premiere resource for the managed services community. "

Increasing the number of MSPSN managed services providers is another goal after the transaction is concluded, and the expanding network will result in new technical and business support options for the community. Partner Vince Tinnirello, President of Anchor Network Solutions, Inc. added "This agreement is very encouraging to us, representing a continuation and enhancement of the tools and processes that enable us to deliver top quality services to our customers."

The transaction is expected to close in early 2010. For more information, visit

MSPSN (, founded in 2007 by Amy Luby, is dedicated to providing a system that allows the Managed Services Provider (MSP) Community to communicate and collaborate with each other for the purpose of growing stronger. MSPSN offers training and guidance for mastering the MSP business model, as well as the tools to manage and build their businesses. They host a Global Community to SMB focused MSPs who collaborate with each other for support. MSPSN is dedicated to providing the Operational Support Services that MSPs need to grow their business and offer the best solutions for their clients. MSPSN exists solely to assist the MSP Community and is committed to providing an infrastructure that will help build thriving businesses.

About High Street Technology Ventures
High Street Technology Ventures ( is focused on assisting and developing technology based companies by providing the necessary ingredients of expertise, investment and long term advisory services. Our team is comprised of seasoned entrepreneurs from leading technology companies who offer deep domain expertise coupled with hand-on operational experience to those companies we engage. Our overall goal is to increase the value of our partners, our investments and our team by connecting all stakeholders in beneficial and symbiotic relationships.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Special Alert: Conference Call on The Changing MSP Business

Note: this post edited after the announcement went public. -kp
- - - - -

We've never done this before. But that's because we've never had this kind of event in the MSP space before.

Great News will be announced on Wednesday morning about a major change in the MSP community. It will be a bit earth-shattering for some people.

MSP Services Network (MSPSN) To Be Acquired

Amy Luby will remain on the board of directors. New CEO will step in.

Listen for the announcement at the beginning of my regular 9:00 AM Conference Call. The rep from Intel will just have to wait until I get this announcement out.

Of course we want you to listen to the entire Intel interview at 9:00 AM Pacific. Register for the 9:00 AM Call

And read the last blog post regarding details of the Intel call.

We are announcing a special SMB Conference Call to cover this story more in depth later in the day.

In order to give the announcement a little time to "soak in" and give you some analysis, I have scheduled a special interview at 4:00 PM Pacific / 7:00 PM Eastern / 12:00 Midnight in London. I think that's 11:00 AM Thursday in Sydney.

We will talk to the main person involved in this breaking news story. We'll give you as much information as we can.

Right now I expect this call to last about 30 minutes. We *may* open the floor to questions. We *may* record the call. Your best bet is to tune in live.

Please register for Special SMB Conference Call - Wednesday December 9th at 4:00 PM Pacific / 7:00 PM Eastern. Register for the Special 4 PM Call.


Bryan Young from Intel - SMB Conference Call Wednesday

Join me Wednesday Dec. 9th at 9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern . . .

Bryan Young from Intel's Sales and Marketing will join us to talk about some cool services being offered for Managed Service Providers - and anyone who is interested in getting into the services space.

This call will be particularly good for people who are or will be building systems. Intel has a very cool program to integrate their chip technology with remote from Logmein.

Register Now

Bryan Young is a Business Development Manager in the Sales and Marketing Group at Intel Corporation.
Bryan's current focus is delivering service revenue opportunities to customers worldwide. Bryan has launched several products into the Intel Reseller Channel ranging from servers to services.

About Intel, Bryan says:
"Intel pushes the boundaries of innovation so our work can make people's lives more exciting, fulfilling, and manageable. And our work never stops. We never stop looking for the next leap ahead-in technology, education, culture, manufacturing, and social responsibility. And we never stop striving to deliver solutions with greater benefits for everyone."

Our Topic will be central to Bryan's job: Delivering New Managed Service Offerings

Register Now

9:00 AM Pacific / 12:00 Eastern
Wed. December 9th

Tell all your friends and colleagues!

Mark Your Calendar Today!

- Email address: [email protected]

- Web address:

Related video:

And just for the fun of it, here's my favorite Intel commercial:

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Vlad Mazek on Final SMB Conference Call Appearance

We have three more SMB Conference Calls left. Then Oprah and I are going to dance off into the sunset.

Here's what's up for Wednesday December 2nd at 9:00 AM Pacific:

Vlad Mazek from Own Web Now will join us to talk about the next generation of software you can resell into your SMB clients.

OWN is known for hosting services, Exchange Defender, Shockey Monkey, . . . and Vlad. So we'll talk about all of those.

Hosted Spam filtering has dramatically changed the way many of us do business. And the evil so-and-so's haven't gone away. But email nastiness has reached a kind of plateau. After all, when 99% of the email traffic is spam, what else can you do?

So now the evil bastards are turning to heightened web attacks. We've all seen it. Think back over the last two years. How many attacks have come through email vs. seemingly safe web browsing? I'll ask Vlad what OWN is doing about these threats -- and how we can all make money off of it.

In addition, we'll talk about cloud services - file sharing, encryption on the fly, HIPAA and SOX issues, government compliance issues, and email archiving.

And whatever comes up.

Vlad is a Microsoft MVP for Exchange Server. He's also a fun guy to talk to and a very bright person.

Come join the fun.

Register now at The Conference Call Page and join us . . .

December 2nd
9:00 Pacific / 12:00 Noon Eastern / 17:00 GMT / 4:00 AM Thursday in Sydney

In the meantime, email questions for Vlad to me at [email protected].


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