Monday, November 25, 2019

Free Webinar: Your Year-End Checklist

Your Year End Checklist

Best tips to improve profit, build your culture, and finish the year with a bang.

Ready to push strong at year end? Join me on a live webinar:

Wed., Dec . 18th
9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern

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UPDATE: Recorded Webinar is Here

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

Are you ready for one last webinar?

You know I'm all about checklists. So why not have a checklist for the end-of-year?

We'll try to balance three core elements of your EOY strategy: Profit, Culture, and ending this year by launching next year.

My goal is to do about 45 minutes of presentation, followed by as much Q & A as the crowd wants.

(Realistically, I'll stop when the webinar hits the two-hour mark. So get your questions in early.)

I know it seems odd to cover three topics. But I assure you, I'll bring it all together to help you with a great year-end strategy:



End with a Bang



Thursday, November 21, 2019

Relax Focus Succeed Gets a Major Refresh!

We are happy to announce that has a great new look - and lots of  amazing content.

This site revision is long overdue.

In fact, I have tried to assign the revision to a few different people over the years. This time, I asked Kara on my staff to take on the task - and she did a great job!

The site includes hundreds of blog posts that go back to the early days of "Relax Focus Succeed" - 2002!

There's a certain symmetry with the RFS site right now. The most recent blog post is a nod to the fact that my personal battle with rheumatoid arthritis started twenty years ago this Fall. And that personal challenge started a series of personal and professional changes that led to the RFS site, blog, and book.

If you are not subscribed to my RFS Newsletter, I encourage you to visit the Relax Focus Succeed web site and subscribe today! Many people in the tech community may be surprised to learn that the RFS newsletter has about 11,000 subscribers - more than the 10K that subscribe to my weekly technology newsletter.

The core philosophy of Relax Focus Succeed is simple: You need balance in your life. To that end, you need to take time to stop working and recharge your batteries. Taking time off is critical to your energy level, your productivity, and your ultimate success.

Many people don't buy into this for a simple reason: We believe that working harder is the only way to succeed. I address this square on in Chapter Two of the book Relax Focus Succeed. Chapter Two is on Workaholism - and you can download it free on the site.

If RFS and the site are known to you, I would appreciate it if you go to the new site and let me know what you think. I always appreciate your feedback.

If all of this is new to you, then I highly encourage you to drop in, read a few blog posts, subscribe to the newsletter, and join the conversation. I think you'll like it and stay.

All feedback welcome!


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Check Out the SMB Community Podcast - Seven Years and Going Strong

I started posting to the SMB Community Podcast in July of 2012. Check it out today at

As of today, we have posted 231 episodes. I don't know if it's the oldest, but it's certain one of the longest-running podcasts in our industry.

Recent topics include:

  • Andrew Lassise - A Self-Made and Sober IT Entrepreneur
  • Culture, Motivation, and Jacob Juicebox Wellman
  • Backblaze: Heating Up the World of Backup
  • Chris Wiser on Running a 7 Figure MSP
  • TaskTrain – Pragmatic Process Management
  • Nigel Moore – Package Price Profit
  • Killing IT with MDF – Market Development Funds
  • Vince Tinnirello: Climbing the Mountain to Work-Life Balance
  • Richard Tubb: How to Increase Productivity When Running a Business
  • How to Start and Run a Successful I.T. Company – Without Using your Shirt

After all these years, podcasts have moved up to a new level of popularity.

For most of the life of this podcast, I have used a service called Libsyn to publish the podcast. As a result, over 190 episodes are available on iTunes, Stitcher, and most of the other pod-catchers.

If you look for "SMB Community Podcast" and don't find it on your favorite pod-catcher, drop me a line and let me know!

In the meantime, check it out now!


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

ASCII Announces Speakers and Content for 2020 IT Success Summits

Press release from The ASCII Group:

The ASCII Group Announces Keynote Speakers and Content for 2020 IT Success Summit Series

Bethesda, Maryland – November 13, 2019 – The ASCII Group, a membership-based community of independent North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers, is pleased to announce the featured speakers for its 2020 North American ASCII IT Success Summits. The agenda for the Summits reflects a heightened focus on education, providing attendees with strategies and best practices on how to grow their IT companies while best servicing their customer base. The 2020 events will have more emphasis on MSP-driven education sessions (featuring ASCII members) and our most popular Keynote speaker returns for a special security discussion.

Keynote Speaker – Frank Abagnale, Security Briefing: The Art of the Steal

In this unique session, con man turned crime stopper Frank Abagnale provides the latest information to protect institutions, associations and corporations from embezzlement, forgery, counterfeit currency, check fraud, identity theft, and Internet fraud. He describes white collar crime techniques, liability concerns under the new Uniform Commercial Code, and demonstrates the latest document features and equipment. Abagnale combines his expertise with anecdotes from his time as one of the world's most successful con men for a timely, insightful and informative presentation.
Additional MSP peer education and industry speakers include:

Bob Coppedge, Simplex-IT – The MSP Survival Guide to Co-Managed IT Services

Can Managed Service Providers (MSPs) work harmoniously with internal IT departments? Historically the answer has been “no way”. In this session, you will see that it can be done without having to recreate your traditional MSP offerings. In fact, MSPs can directly market to organizations who have internal IT departments and create a unique selling proposition. By crafting a mutually supportive relationship between internal IT employees and your MSP organization, both parties reap the benefits and can build a strong, long-term relationship. This session will show you how to do this without reinventing your existing MSP practice.

Corey Kirkendoll, 5K Technical Services – The Ultimate MSP Check List for Bulletproof Internal Security

Over the past year, “security” has been one of the most highly talked about subjects in our industry. However, there is one element vital to the success of MSPs that hasn’t been broadly discussed – internal security measures. Corey Kirkendoll, CEO of 5K Technical Services, has been aggregating best practices from within the ASCII and vendor community into a definitive guide to help MSPs lock down their environments from future attacks. Corey will present this information, highlighting the top things most MSPs are not doing that leave them vulnerable to being breached. The content created for this session has been a collaborative effort for our industry and the findings are vital for any MSP to hear.

Dawn Sizer, 3rd Element Consulting – Going Vertical in Municipal Government and Law Enforcement is Not a Bidding War

Building trust and delivery of IT services for first responders is no small task and leading the charge in this sector of the market is Dawn Sizer, CEO of 3rd Element Consulting. Dawn has focused almost exclusively on this vertical as well as local municipalities. With over 12 years in delivering IT services, Dawn has stood out because of solid processes and knowing the nuances of this market and what it takes to be successful. With 0% client loss, 3rd Element Consulting provides 24/7 support which extends to the office, outside of cars in the field, to the station, and into the cloud. Plenty of people say it’s too hard to get into this vertical, but it’s knowing how, and the right staff will qualify you, or disqualify you.

Shannon Mayer, The ASCII Group - How MSPs Can Drive New Business through Live Events

Events are a proven way to generate business and heighten your company brand. Building an event takes more than just figuring out the logistics aspect though – it requires an understanding of marketing and repeatable strategies for success.  Shannon Mayer, ASCII’s VP of Channel Development, has produced over 150 events, and in this session Shannon will go beyond the basics and help you determine the best approach and strategy to help you produce your own local, live event to drive new business and retain customers.

Jerry Koutavas, The ASCII Group: MSP-Client Retention Strategy Study

With its most recent industry study, ASCII breaks down the data exposing specific strategies that leading MSPs are using to increase customer retention. As MSPs continue to drive recurring revenue and automate processes that would lessen the need to have a physical presence at their client sites, it is vital to have a strategy to increase touch and awareness with your customers.  Jerry Koutavas, President of The ASCII Group, digs into the specifics as we help you compare your current business strategy to your peers as we discuss the most recent data on which approaches outperform others to maintain customer revenue.

For over 20 years, the Success Summits have been the leading conference in the channel and bring together over 1,500 IT solution providers, cutting edge technology vendors and key industry thought leaders in a two-day format.  ASCII hosts events in nine major cities across North America and the series focuses on areas to help MSPs advance and move their businesses forward through the power of community and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.

“Our goal has never changed, provide the ASCII MSP community with an event unlike any other, with actionable business content, a nationally recognized keynote and the showcasing of top technology that is helping MSPs drive new revenue,” said Jerry Koutavas, President, The ASCII Group.  “Attendees leave the events with business intelligence they can use and new partnerships they can leverage to further build recurring revenue for their business.”

The Summit series is designed for qualified Managed Service Providers and is targeted towards those looking to increase revenue and enhance their current business model.

The locations and dates for the 2020 ASCII IT Success Summits:
Long Beach, CA February 26 – 27
Houston, TX March 25 – 26
Washington, D.C. April 22 – 23
Chicago, IL May 27 – 28
Cincinnati, OH June 24 – 25
Toronto, Canada July 29 – 30
Atlantic City, NJ August 26 – 27
Boston, MA September 24 – 25
Orlando, FL October 21 – 22

MSPs and solution providers interested in attending the Summits can visit For more information, follow ASCII on Twitter @asciigroup and #ASCIISUCCESS.

About The ASCII Group, Inc:

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



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

New 5-Week Class: Powerhouse of One - How to Be a Super Successful MSP (or Solo Entrepreneur)

Next 5-Week Course - 100% New

Taught By: Lori Hardtke, MSP and Peer Advisor.

- Five Tuesdays - November 19 - December 17, 2019

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

Register Now

You hear it all the time, you need to work "on" your business not "in" your business. You need to hire staff and delegate in order to grow.

But what if you could grow your business to $300K or more without any additional full-time staff on your payroll?

Tired of sitting in traffic to make that meeting across town and filling up at the pump every few days? What if you could master running your MSP practice remotely nearly 100% of the time?

Ever dream of having no monthly A/R and no debt?

Then this class is for you!

Here's what you will learn:

  • How to pick the right vendors to do a lot of the heavy lifting
  • How to position your micro MSP practice to prospects and clients as though you have an army of employees behind you!
  • How to sell additional technology services that are pure profit
  • How to land new MSP contracts without leaving your office!
  • Tactics on raising rates and going after low hanging fruit
  • Ideas on how to package and price your MSP offering
  • How to streamline your sales process
  • Technical Business Review checklist
  • Finances - the bottom line
  • How to Live Your Business Dream
  • …And more tips-n-tricks to help you be different and think different!

Lori has been a managed service provider for many years and runs a successful two-state business with no employees.

Five Tuesdays, starting November 19, 2019
9:00 AM Pacific - All classes recorded

Details and Registration at

Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community Members: Register for only $99. See the Deals and Freebies forum for the code you need.

Members who renewed their annual subscription attend for FREE. Email the Community Concierge for the code.


Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Mini Class: Social Media Super Charge – starts Tomorrow

Automate your social media marketing. Presented by Karl W. Palachuk.

Click for Details

I create about 125,000 social media touch points every month. How is that possible? I’ll show you exactly what I do. Join me live!

There are three pieces to a successful scheduling and automation process. I’ll show you what they are, how you automate these processes, what they cost, and more. Plus we’ll answer all of your questions.

And, of course, you need to have someone echo all the social media posts again and again. That requires a human (administrative assistant) and another tool.

In this three-week mini class, I’ll show you the strategy, the exact tools I use, and the processes and procedures that make this a LOT easier than it looks like.

Social Media Super Charge

November 7, 14, and 21
8:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Eastern

Each class is 30-60 minutes, depending on questions and other interaction

NOTE: Three week mini class are now exclusive to Small Biz Thoughts Community members. Members can attend for free.

Members Register Free

Special Offer:
Non-members pay only $999 – and receive one year of membership at no additional cost!
Non-Members Join Today


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Two New Recorded Seminars in the Community

Over in the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community, we posted two new seminars:

The Execution Gap – Audio Program
Exclusive to the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community

100% NEW Audio Program:

Did you ever make a “decision” and then not implement it? I know I have! This presentation gives some hints to making decisions, committing to them, and executing them.

Audio program with slides. Sixty Minutes. Delivered in a zip file.

Recorded live: October 2019.

Streamline Your Managed Services Business – New Audio Program

How can you increase the productivity and profitability of your managed services business? Are you always in search of the secret sauce? Well, as this seminar explains here, there is no secret sauce. But I cover the good, solid strategies you need to make your business fast, efficient, and profitable.

Audio program with slides. Sixty Minutes. Delivered in a zip file.

Recorded live: October 2019.

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Saturday, November 02, 2019

Save Your Money: There Is No One-Time Miracle

I have seen a certain kind of desperate spending creeping into our industry. It's not completely new or unique to our industry, but I believe it's becoming more common. Here's what I mean.

Sometimes,  you just need to take action, and you don't know what to do. So you decide to try just about anything.

For example, you might want to sign one more client. Or somehow get ahead of the cash flow crunch. Or just hire another tech to handle the workload.

And so, you decide to invest in any exciting $1,000 (or $2,500 or $5,000) program that looks like it will solve your problem. And so you spend time jumping from one thing to another.

And guess what? None of them work.

Well, that's not fair. In reality, all of them probably work if you stick with it and stop jumping around. If you just picked one thing and worked it like crazy, you would almost certainly find success.

I am seeing a growing trend in our industry of folks offering quick-fix solutions that cannot possibly work for most people. And I can from their marketing campaigns which books they've read and which tools they've subscribed to.

As someone who sells into this industry, I have been tempted down that road. But one big thing stops me: I hate it when people return purchases. Almost all quick-fix programs can expect a 25-50% return rate due to buyer's remorse.

I never want buyers to have remorse. So I try to only sell truly useful products and programs.

People always email me, asking my opinion of various programs designed to help IT professionals make more money. The truth is: I know of ONE person who is a sham and has taken money but never delivered results.

But I know a couple dozen programs and individuals that work their butts off to deliver exactly what they promise. It all adds up to this: YOU have to do the work. Signing up for a marketing program will not create a flood of new business; following the program religiously for six months will.

Brian Tracy has a great line about employees who ask for raises: "Your raise will become effective when you do."

It's the same way with improving your business. Your success will become effective when you stop bouncing around, trying a new thing every month, and focus on one thing until it works. As your company grows and you can delegate tasks to various people, your company will be able to focus on two things, and then three, four, and more.

A great deal of the sales techniques we are seeing originated by selling useless vitamin supplements over the internet through "new" techniques that were massively profitable - despite 50% return rates. These techniques are not pyramid schemes (mostly), but they rely on a very temporary success method.

They basically expect the average customer to make a big purchase and follow one of three paths:

1) Ask for your money back

2) Never purchase again

3) Buy into an even higher-level program that's even more expensive

Here's the interesting part. Almost everyone who takes option #3 turns out to be extremely successful. Why? Because they picked a path and stuck with it. When you're paying a large monthly fee, you tend to take it seriously, take action, and follow the plan.

Bottom line: It's better to spend $2,500 per month on the same program over and over than to spend that money on a new program every month, starting over and over.

Remember, almost anything you do consistently over time will bring you success.