Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Free Webinar: Pricing Strategies - Wednesday

I am very pleased to be presenting another MSP Tech Talk for SMB Nation on Wednesday - tomorrow.

I'll be talking about pricing strategies from Break/Fix to Managed Services and Cloud Services. In particular, I'm going to cover the key things you need to focus on so you are always profitable!

Sign Up Now

MSP Tech Talk

Fall 2017 

Tickets are Complimentary........

All you have to invest is your time.

This multi-faceted event gives technology providers the opportunity to learn from industry experts with no travel, hotel cost, or extensive time away from your business.

The Fall Agenda includes presentations by Harry Brelsford, Jamison West, Amie Seisay, Mark Scott, and me.


Sept. 27th
12:00 Noon Pacific
Pricing Strategies: Break/Fix, Managed Service, and Cloud

Karl Palachuk
One of the most common topics for service providers is pricing. How should you price your services? By user or device? In bundles? Should you include hardware? What's covered and what's not? And how do you set an hourly rate?

While the questions never cease, managed service author Karl Palachuk provides some great guidelines to consider as you structure your pricing.

Join us for an entertaining and educational webinar - September 27th.

Register Now

Also coming up in this series . . .

Oct. 4th 
12:00 PM
Embracing Change as an Organization with SharePoint

Amie Seisay
Technology changes at a rapid pace. Business processes should align with the changes that are happening in the world. This of course, impacts how people perform their job functions. The days of waiting for IT to build web applications have shifted, empowering business users to develop their own websites and dashboards to showcase information. IT can shift their focus to developing high powered solutions that will provide even greater business value. This session will cover business solutions in SharePoint involving approaches to Change Management. We will also discuss pointers for allowing SharePoint to deliver true business value.

Register Now

Oct. 11th 
12:00 PM
It’s not getting to the Cloud it’s about a safe journey

Mark Scott
Cloud this, cloud that, “take your business to the cloud”. The age of cloud computing is upon us and with it a dizzying array of tools, templates, platforms, services, subscriptions, API’s, and applications. We can now build applications and easily share data with virtually everyone on the planet -- intended or not. In this session, we’ll cover

Business Drivers
Architectural Concepts
Design Requirements
Data Classification
Cloud Security
Cloud Application Security
Operating in the Cloud
Legal Considerations

Register Now

Oct.  18th 
12:00 PM
How to Align Your People

Jamison West
Are your teams performing at their full potential? Are people on each team aligned with each other – values, personalities, and interests? Are they aligned with their roles and objectives to fully maximize the potential of their talents? Join Jamison West as he shares why his new business was created to improve company and team culture and performance.

Register Now


Friday, September 22, 2017

Cloud 5-Pack Training: ONLY 4 Australian Cities and 3 U.S. Cities Left!

Nashville: Done!
Atlanta: Complete!

Next up: Adelaide - Melbourne - Sydney - Brisbane

An interesting thing happened at the last two roadshows: LOTS of people came from out of state to attend each show. In Atlanta, more than half the attendees were from out of state. People are realizing that it's winding down. If you want this info, you need to attend one of the last seven cities.

November and December: Oakland - San Jose - Las Vegas

This show is 100% education. No vendors. No sponsors. No promotions. Just education focused 100% on helping you make money with cloud services.

This training will NOT be available at a lower price in a recorded format when the roadshow is over! If you were hoping for that, I'm sorry.

I am working to re-present this with a marketing partner for significantly MORE money. After all, this is a business model that will make you money with the first client you sign and will probably change your entire business model for the next 5-10 years. It really is worth the money.

If you want a sense of what we're up so, here's a 35 minute video on making the move from MSP to Cloud Service Provider:

Link to SMB Cloud Roadshow 

But if you sign up for any city, you get access to all the recorded audio - immediately. There are several cities’ audio posted already. More to come.

And you get access to all the downloads, handouts, slides, related member-only videos, and the Facebook group. Also . . . if you decide to attend live, you can attend any city you want.

There are only seven cities left on the 2017 Roadshow. So NOW is a great time to figure out your strategy for getting this material. Here are the cities.

City / CountryDate
Adelaide, SA Australia

Oct 10th

More Info

Melbourne, NSW Australia

Oct 12th

More Info

Sydney, NSW Australia

Oct 17th

More Info

Brisbane, QLD Australia

Oct 19th

More Info

San Jose, CA USA

Nov 14th

More Info

Oakland, CA USA

Nov 16th

More Info

Las Vegas, NV USA

Dec 8th, 2017

More Info

Option One: Attend one of the last few events.

Option Two: Sign up and attend "virtually" by downloading content now.

Option Three: Sign up for Las Vegas.

It's the last show. It's cheap to fly from just about anywhere. And you can join a national audience that didn't make it to any other city.

All cities now $599. Hurry . . . before they're really gone!


Check Out the All New Book:

Cloud Services in A Month
by Karl W. Palachuk

396 pages - plus lots of juicy downloads

Paperback - Ebook

A great resource for managed service providers or anyone who wants make money selling and bundling cloud services.

Featuring all the details you need to create and sell YOUR custom Cloud Five-Pack (TM)

Learn More!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

ASCII Group Announces Enhanced Educational Agenda for 2018 IT SMB Success Summits

One of the truly great organizations you should be involved with is The ASCII Group. I think I've been a member for most of twenty years. In addition to great product discounts, ASCII puts on a series of one-day events that are educational and entertaining.

They sent me a press release announcing the cities and dates for next year. I highly encourage you to check out these events. There are nine events next year, so there's bound to be one near you.

The ASCII Group Announces Enhanced Educational Agenda for its 2018 IT SMB Success Summits with New Cities, Content and Keynote by Former White House CIO

Bethesda, Maryland – September 21, 2017 --  The ASCII Group, a membership-based community of independent North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers, is pleased to announce new event cities, conference content, and keynote speaker for its 2018 IT SMB Success Summit Series. The Summits will heavily emphasize professional development for the attendees, leaving extended time for discussion of business challenges.

The Summits bring together over 1,400 IT solution providers and dozens of technology vendors in a two-day format that includes extensive networking, education and training. With events in nine markets across North America, The ASCII Group continues its mission of 33 years to help IT business owners grow and thrive. Sponsorships for the 2017 Summits sold out well in advance and points to the vendor community’s continued interest in channel partners’ achievements.

The 2018 Summits will contain education, presentations from top industry specialists, a leading edge vendor solutions pavilion, and an exclusive ASCII members-only meeting. Additionally, the Summits include numerous networking opportunities between fellow MSPs and industry experts, including: roundtables; Summit exercises; receptions; and breaks – all which are designed to foster dialogue. 

In addition to best practice addresses from ASCII members and thought leaders, the special guest for 2018 is Theresa Payton, former White House CIO and star of the CBS TV Series, “Hunted”. Theresa was the first female to serve as White House chief information officer, and named #4 on IFSEC Global’s list of the world’s Top 50 cybersecurity influencers in 2017.

“ASCII’s true value is in the conversations and knowledge that members are exchanging; members want to learn from each other. Our 2018 Summits will be more collaborative, with extensive discussions between our community and the influential vendors and industry specialists joining us,” said Jerry Koutavas, President, The ASCII Group.

“ASCII is on my event ‘go-to’ list every year,” said Raffi Jamgotchian, Triada Networks, ASCII member since 2008. “They combine a great mix of speakers, workshop sessions, and top-notch vendors that understand the importance of the channel.  Best of all, I get to connect with my peers. Although we are in the same competitive market, ASCII members are always there to help out.”

The Summit Series is designed for qualified industry IT professionals and MSPs, and is targeted towards those looking to increase revenue and enhance their current business model. Admission is free for ASCII members.
For further information on ASCII’s IT SMB Success Summits, please visit www.asciievents.com.

2018 Summit Cities:
·        Orange County, CA                   February 21-22
·        Fort Lauderdale, FL                   March 21-22
·        Austin, TX                                April 18-19
·        Chicago, IL                               May 16-17
·        Ann Arbor, MI                           June 27-28
·        Charlotte, NC                            July 25-26
·        Toronto, Canada                       August 22-23
·        Newark, NJ                               September 26-27
·        Seattle, WA                              October 17-18

About The ASCII Group, Inc:

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


Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Get All Roadshow Content - without Attending a Roadshow

I've had several people email me in the last week with the same question. It goes something like this:

"I just watched your webinar “Make the Move from Managed Service Provider to Cloud Service Provider”. I would like to join you at one of the shows but the closest locations the date don’t work for me to get there. 

Are there any other options to get a copy of video from one of your shows, downloadable materials and Facebook page access?"

(That video is a 35 minute video that has been "unlisted" and used in marketing for awhile. I made it public today so you can watch if interested.)

Here it is:

Link to SMB Cloud Roadshow 

Here's my answer to the question:

I do not have video of this event.

But if you sign up for any city, you get access to all the recorded audio - immediately. There are several cities’ audio posted already. More to come.

And you get access to all the downloads, handouts, slides, related member-only videos, and the Facebook group.

Also . . . if you decide to attend live, you can attend any city you want.

There are only nine cities left on the 2017 Roadshow. So NOW is a great time to figure out your strategy for getting this material. Here are the cities.

City / CountryDate
Nashville, TN USA

Sept 19th, 2017
More Info

Atlanta, GA USA

Sept 21st

More Info

Adelaide, SA Australia

Oct 10th

More Info

Melbourne, NSW Australia

Oct 12th

More Info

Sydney, NSW Australia

Oct 17th

More Info

Brisbane, QLD Australia

Oct 19th

More Info

San Jose, CA USA

Nov 14th

More Info

Oakland, CA USA

Nov 16th

More Info

Las Vegas, NV USA

Dec 8th, 2017

More Info

Option One: Attend one of the last nine events.

Option Two: Sign up and attend "virtually" by downloading content now.

Option Three: Sign up for Las Vegas.
It's the last show. It's cheap to fly from just about anywhere. And you can join a national audience that didn't make it to any other city.

All cities now $599. Hurry . . . before they're really gone!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Beginning, Middle, and End of My Relationship with Microsoft

Way back in 1993 I found myself in charge of a program to take an entire service business built on Cobol, EBCDIC, and HP-3000 mini computers and create a new system based on Windows Server and SQL. In addition to managing an entire staff of people who ran the entire operation, I managed two COBOL programmers, on SQL programmer, and an outsourced development company that built the new systems based on a 300 page design document I put together.

That was my introduction to Microsoft. Within two years I was pretty good with managing Windows servers, desktops, SQL databases, Exchange, remote access, and IIS. That's when I signed a contract to manage the outsource I.T. support for 5,000 desktops at HP's Roseville, CA plant.

My entire staff (about 25 people) were required to be certified in Windows 3.1 (Note: Not Windows 3.11 for Workgroups. That wasn't yet part of the official Common Operating Environment.)

I was not required to be so certified, but I decided to do it anyway. I figured it would be a piece of cake since I'd been managing Windows desktops and servers for a couple years. Click. Drag. Drop. What's to know, right? Of course I failed that exam because I didn't take it seriously. So I studied and passed with flying colors the second time.

My first certification: Windows 3.1. Woo Hoo.

I learned the first two lessons of Microsoft exams. First, they are geared for massive environments that really only exist in theory within the heads of someone at Microsoft. After all, I'd seen small environments (40 users) and huge environment (5,000 users with 7,000 desktop and laptop machines), and the exam did not test the truly important things that you need to know to manage these environments.

The second thing I learned is that there are some questions that you have to simply answer the "Microsoft way" - even if you know they're wrong in the real world. Like any test, you have to practice for the test, not for the knowledge behind it.

But let me be super clear: I believe the test had real value. I believe the decision to have the support staff take these exams was a good decision. Studying for the test required us to learn lots of non-obvious features and the right way to do many things. It gave everyone on my team a common understanding to build on. It really did take our tech support to the next level.

After that, I took a contract to set up a previously-100% Novell shop on Windows servers, connect them to the Internet, and develop a way to move EDI (electronic data interchange) information over the Internet. I felt that I needed to be as certified in NT as my Novell counterpart was in Novell. So I took exams for Windows Server, TCP/IP, and more. Without realizing it, I was moving toward my first MCSE certification.

Beginning in 1995, I put a Microsoft MCP logo on my business cards. Starting in 1999, I began telling clients that we hired only Microsoft trained and Microsoft Certified Professionals. And I really pushed that. I absolutely reject the notion that certifications are meaningless. Yes, there was a time when you could take a crash course boot camp and pass all the exams in a weekend. But even to do that, you have to gain some knowledge.

For people who take the exams seriously, one at a time, they really do require a certain level of knowledge. And all those questions where you just have to know the "Microsoft Answer?" Well, to even know the difference between the Microsoft Answer and the real world, you have to have a certain level of knowledge.

I don't remember if we became a Microsoft Certified Partner in 2000 or 2001. But somewhere along the line, we jumped through some hoops and got an extra logo we could put on all of our materials and business cards. Again, we hire only Microsoft trained and Microsoft Certified Professionals.

Getting client endorsements and cases studies was useful. In fact, it's great experience in exactly the kind of things that small businesses should do with their clients but often fail to do. And it's also the case that the vast majority of our competitors would never be certified partners. They wouldn't jump through the hoops.

I'm not sure clients ever understood the difference between logos. One Microsoft Exam gets you an MCP logo. Then there's MSCE. And finally Microsoft Certified Partner. The only time a client ever mentioned the logos to me was when someone said, "I know you have to provide the Microsoft solution." I said I don't have to. I choose to because it's the right solution.

Even more valuable to us than the Certified Partnership was the Small Business Specialist program. We used this as a screening tool for years. Everyone we hired from about 1999 on had to have at least one Microsoft exam under their belt. With the SBSC program, we also required that they pass the 70-282 exam. It wasn't really a Small Business Server exam, but it was a great exam for the technology and the clients we were focused on. New hires had 90 days to pass that exam or look for another job.

Even after that program ended, we required at least one Microsoft certification. Every once in a while I would be a lengthy email from a candidate telling me how useless the exams were and how I was ignoring great talent (like him). My response was always the same: If it really doesn't mean anything, go pass an exam. I'll reimburse you for the exam fee.

I always paid my employees to study for exams. I bought practice test software. I had shelves full of books. We even had a machine dedicated to practice exams. I paid for every test they passed, and gave them time off work to take it. And I gave a them a raise for every exam they passed.

All that studying and practicing made my staff better at delivering real service and solving real problems. So I don't care whether any one exam was useful. The whole process of having continuous training be part of our environment made our company better.

Somewhere around 2008 it had become clear that Microsoft no longer cared about the smallest partners. I have friends at Microsoft who would argue with that and may feel hurt that I would say it. But there's nothing new here. Microsoft has completely moved away from the program of engaging small resellers and consultants.

I have learned with several large companies that I can't have more loyalty to them than they have to me.

Around 2009 we stopped putting Microsoft logos on our business cards. We still required the certifications, but we no longer considered it a selling point. Microsoft was actively moving away from small business - and we were actively moving to cloud offerings that may or may not include Microsoft.

When I sold my first managed service business (2011), the new owner did not renew the Microsoft Partnership. And even though he has a few MCP exams under his belt, he never put Microsoft logos on letterhead or business cards.

I stepped down to an Action Pack subscription and whatever they called the non-certified non-partners in the non-partner program. I wanted software to run my business and influence clients with my new companies. But then a new set of problems cropped up.

Some software (versions of Office 365) would not install. Fights between the partner program and Office support led nowhere. So I downloaded the code and installed directly. Then there were problems with those licenses and more hassles with tech support. Eventually, I just deployed Office licenses to myself via Intermedia or Rackspace. Click. Done.

At this point, the only thing I used the Action Pack for was server licenses. It's nice to build up a few different configurations and make YouTube videos or write blogs posts about them. (e.g., Booting HP Proliant Server from an SD Card). But I can also do that with demo downloads.

I have one simple onsite server that I use for internal use. That kept me in the Action Pack program.

Until recently.

In a convoluted fuster-cluck, I can either sign in with my MCP ID ([email protected]) or manage my Partner Program with the same logon, but I can't get the system to acknowledge that both of these are really me at the same time. So the pages go round and round in a never ending circle of frustration.

That's when I realized that I've been selling Windows Server Essentials for years - at less than the cost of the Action Pack.

So while some primordial part of my rodent brain wants to solve the technical problems with Microsoft's Partner Portal, the truth is, it doesn't matter. I don't need it. I don't use it. I throw them $500 once a year in order to stay legal for a product that costs less than $300. I get no advice, no usable software. I get nothing from the program. So I'm going to stop. It's just become a bad habit.

In case you're wondering about the "value" of my Azure licenses through the Action Pack: I don't use that. I have a separate Azure subscription that I use for running a different business. I don't want to run that on Partner Program subscription. The cost of Azure is so cheap that there's no point in running something mission critical on anything other than a legit subscription. Just my opinion.

- - - - -

Is that the end? Is that really how my relationship with Microsoft just fades away? Maybe.

I have enjoyed amazing programs and benefits from my relationship with Microsoft over the years. And it would be great to have a relationship like that again. But today, it's not worth it.

No hard feelings. No blow up. Just quietly fading away.


SMB Books, Audio Programs, and More 

100% Small Business I.T. Focused 
- Technical - Business - Marketing - 
- Managed Services - Cloud Computing - 
- Network Migrations - Sales - 

All these resources and more. 

SMB Books is THE resources for the small business IT consultant who wants to move up to the next level. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

SMB Cloud Roadshow . . . Australia!

My big SMB Roadshow is heading to Australia next month.

Please join me!

You can find out all the details at www.SMBRoadshow.com.

This six-hour seminar is jam packed with great information about bundling, selling, implementing, and maintaining cloud services. We've hit over half the cities we're going to visit this year. This will be my only visit to these Australia cities this year:

 - Adelaide - 10 October

 - Melbourne - 12 October

 - Sydney - 17 October

 - Brisbane - 19 October

I put together an 8-minute video that spells out all details of what you get with this Roadshow seminar. It also explains in some detail what we're doing and how this seminar will prepare you to make a lot of money selling Cloud Services:

Check out the video -- which includes a discount code -- and plan to join me in October.

Questions welcome.


Next 5-Week Course- Managed Services in a Month - Applying the Book - Newly Revised for 2017


Managed Services in a Month - Applying the Book - Newly Revised for 2017

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

You're guaranteed to learn something that will make or save you the price of admission!

This course will cover the process outlined in the book - to build your managed service practice in a month. In this case, five weeks. :-)

Managed Services in a Month is the best-selling guide to turning your "computer consulting" business into a recurring revenue machine!

This course is designed to walk you through the process outlined in the book. AND your registration includes a free copy of the book in the format of your choice.

Updated Information on Tools, Cloud Services, Per-User Pricing, Creating Bundles, and MORE!

It's not too late! YOU can get into Managed Services -- in a month.

Even if you decide not to become an MSP (managed service provider), this course will help you establish some great best practices when it comes to running your I.T. business.

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!
Managed Services in a Month

You will learn
  • Computer Consulting in the 21st Century
  • What’s Different About Technology Consulting Today?
  • Cloud Computing in the Small Business Space
  • The Managed Service Model
  • New Consulting Business vs. Existing Business
  • Managed Services in a Month
  • Integrating Cloud Services
  • Making A Plan
  • Starting Fresh with No Clients to Convert
  • Create A Three-Tiered Pricing Structure
  • Bundling Services
  • Per-User vs. Per-Device Pricing Models
  • Putting Your (New) Business Together
  • Weed Your Client Garden and Finish The Plan
  • Write a Service Agreement; Have It Reviewed
  • Overcoming Objections
  • Desktops and Managed Service
  • Executing the Plan
  • Client Sit-Downs
  • After The Sale
  • Key Points to Remember for Profit
  • Running Your New MSP Business
  • The Right Tools for the Job
  • Your Standard Offerings (Your Catalog of Services)
  • Building an Action Plan that works
  • and MORE!

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.

Register Now

A Few Details . . .

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

Friday, September 01, 2017

SOP: Wearing Three Fewer Hats

We always talk about the small business owner wearing multiple hats. As you grow, you need to give up some of those duties. If you don't, then you (the owner) become the choke point for everything in your business.

I have often given the advice that your first hire should be an administrative assistant rather than a technician. Today I posted a video to explain some details on this.

Three of the "busiest" hats you wear can be grouped together as the "Front Office Staff."

- Administrative Assistant
- Bookkeeper
- Office Manager

The reason for this is simple. Those roles consist of very important tasks that have to be done by someone. And when a business is very small, that someone is naturally the owner. The tasks can be as simple as copying, filing, and entering bills into QuickBooks.

All those things have to be done. But you're not going to pay a technician to do them. So they end up being taken care of by the owner. That's a huge waste of time for the owner. Your time is too valuable to spend it dealing with the security company or balancing the checkbook.

Eventually, as you grow, you'll end up hiring three people to fill these three roles. But you can certainly start out hiring ONE person to take on these three chores. You will probably give them the title of Office Manager or Bookkeeper.

When your company is very small, all three roles can be handled by one person. As you grow, you'll naturally hire others to take over the various roles.