Saturday, August 01, 2020

New Webinar: A Deep Dive into Strategic Bundling!

Last week, I presented The Value of Strategic Bundling along with Justin Gilbert from Zix | AppRiver. That was part one of a two-part series.



The New Webinar is: A Deep Dive into Strategic Bundling!


August 13th, 2020 
8 AM Pacific / 10 AM Central / 11 AM Eastern


-- -- --

Creating Bundles - Part Two: Deep Dive


By now, you know that bundles are magic. Last time, we talked about bundles generally, and how a good bundle will help you make a lot more sales. 

In this webinar, I walk through the key elements of building bundles that sell. This includes selecting core services, addressing client needs, and maximizing profit. Building bundles is a lot more complicated than simply adding a name to the services you’ve always sold. 

In the era of ransomware and compliance, your bundles need to address the core challenges of your clients as well as your business. 

We'll look at (among other things):

- Where do you start?

- Building the Core Bundle - for all clients

- Building the "Platinum" Bundle

- Adding Security or Vertical-Specific Bundles

- How to present your bundles so they are 100% customer focused

I've written many books for IT service providers, and several of them discuss the bundles we've created over the years. Now I'm teaming up with Zix / AppRiver to present this concept in a webinar and answer your questions live.

Join Join Justin Gilbert (Sr. Director Channel Marketing, Zix | AppRiver) and me for this deep dive into the do’s and don’ts of building bundles to meet the modern challenges of IT consulting.


-- -- -- 



August 13th, 2020 
8 AM Pacific / 10 AM Central / 11 AM Eastern

Free, of course.


-- -- -- 


Webinar One was: The Value of Strategic Bundling

The recording for that webinar is here:

and the slides in PDF format are here:


:-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Nurturing the "Owner's Mentality" in Employees

When you're hiring, one of the most important things you can look for is an "owner's mentality." That means someone who will embrace your business as if it's their own. And that means they won't leave clients hanging in an emergency. They'll do what's in the best interest of the company. And they really love doing these things.

We all seek great, loyal employees. And you can build a lot of loyalty by being the kind of boss that engenders loyalty.

But no matter what you do, you have to realize that 90% of all people do not have an owner's mentality. There's nothing wrong with them. They're not lazy or evil. They just know that 1) The company's not their's; 2) They'll still have a job if they let someone else be the hero; and 3) If things don't work out, they will go work somewhere else.

In other words, most people only have one foot on the boat and one on the pier. 

I see three primary kinds of mistakes employers make regarding this.

First, most owners only come to understand the concept of an owner's mentality after they have taken someone for granted, piled too much work on them, and then had to replace an "irreplaceable" employee. 

And sometimes, it's not abuse at all. Sometimes, life simply happens. One day, with no advance notice, an employee announces that they're moving to another state so their spouse can pursue a dream. Poof. Employee gone.

The second mistake I see is owners who don't recognize the diamond in the rough they have in front of them. When you find someone with an owner's mentality, you need to nurture them. Take them under your care. Nurture the skills they lack. Give them lots of leeway and let them excel. 

If you treat one of these "super" employees well, they will take your business to the next level. But you need to give them authority as well as title. Once you see that they really will act as you would - putting the company first - you need to support them and nurture them.

If you don't let people with an owner's mentality take "ownership" of their job, with the freedom they need to be successful, they will quit and go start their own business. That doesn't mean they'll compete with you. But they'll go create a world where their owner nature can flourish.

Finally, the third mistake I see owners make is to try to micro-manage everyone. I think that's a bad strategy in general. But it's the worst thing you can do to an employee with an owner's mentality. You are handcuffing someone who do amazing things for your company. But when they have to ask for approval on something where they already master the knowledge, then you are crushing their spirit.

No one will make every decision exactly as you would. That's not possible. Nor is it the point of delegating authority.

Someone with an owner's mentality will take on more jobs, more pressure, and more responsibility than anyone else on the team. And they will do their best to help promote you and your business. When you find someone list this, you need to let them run, and support them as much as you can.

. . . But make sure you document what they're doing and how they're doing it. Because they won't stay forever. (Unless, of course, they end up buying you out.)

:-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Webinar July 29th: Build Strategic Bundles to Maximize Profit

Great new webinar - 

The Value of Strategic Bundling


Recorded
July 29th, 2020 

Want to grow your business? Let’s talk building service bundles!

-- -- -- 

This webinar was recorded!


The recording for that webinar is here:


and the slides in PDF format are here:



I am happy to present this webinar along with Justin Gilbert, Sr. Director Channel Marketing, Zix | AppRiver.

In this session you'll learn how to build a cloud service bundle that flies off the shelf, and how to use pricing to maximize sales and profit.

You may find this hard to believe, but a good bundle will help you make a lot more sales. Really!

And, truth be told, good bundles will help you organize your service delivery to achieve the goals of security and reliability that your clients are looking for.

In this webinar, we'll talk about options for building bundles, how to put them together, and how to maximize profit.

. . .

Most people aren’t sure where to start building great cloud bundles. I recommend you take a step back and define what you mean by great. Are you looking to cover as many bases as possible (that is, include as many products as you can)? Are you looking to maximize security? Are you looking to maximize profit? Any of these is a great place to start. 

Ultimately, I think you want to include as much preventive maintenance as possible, along with the core services that your clients need to run their business. Remember, you can always add on whatever technology they need. The point of the bundle is to make sure all the “necessary” stuff is taken care of. As it turns out, this approach will also put you well on the way to covering all your bases, maximizing client security, and maximizing your own profit.

If the problem is how to get started building bundles, the answer is simply to start making lists of things you might include. Once you have a list or two, you can start fine-tuning. Remember: You can’t edit a blank page. So any approach that gets you started is the right approach!

We hope you can join us for a discussion on bundling your services!

We'll see you on the 29th.


:-)



Thursday, July 09, 2020

The Culture of Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- -- 


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


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

Lots of details at . . . https://absolutelyunbreakablerules.com/ 

:-)


Wednesday, July 08, 2020

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

Key Performance Indicators for IT Service Managers

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

Taught By: Karl W. Palachuk

Three Wednesdays

July 15 - 29

9:00 - 10:00 AM PST

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

More class info and registration:

https://www.greatlittleseminar.com/course/key-performance-indicators-for-it-service-managers/

Register Now: Key Performance Indicators for IT Service Managers


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

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

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

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

Course Outline

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

Includes three weeks of webinar classes with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor. All classes are recorded for download.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.

Note on Pricing:

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

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

A Few Details . . .

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

I hope to see YOU in class!

:-)

Monday, July 06, 2020

SMB TechFest Goes 100% Virtual

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

You can attend this event FREE with this link: 


SMB TechFest - Virtual
Q3 Show is July 16th

Now made available to all Solution Providers

REGISTER NOW

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

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


Not your normal Virtual Event.  Join our excitement:

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


Highlighted Speakers

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

:-)


Sunday, July 05, 2020

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

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

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

Here's our unique format:

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

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

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


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

Agile Methodology in IT Service Delivery


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

Members: Click Here for Registration Info inside the Community

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

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

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



-- -- --

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

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

Visit his web site at http://www.morrismp.com/.


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

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

Visit his web site at https://manuelpalachuk.com/.

-- -- -- 

Members: Click Here for Registration Info inside the Community

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

:-)

Friday, July 03, 2020

The Elements of Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I welcome any feedback you have.

-- -- 


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


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

Lots of details at . . . https://absolutelyunbreakablerules.com/ 

:-)


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

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

Financial Processes for the IT Service Firm – 5W07

Rayanne Buchianico
Taught By: Rayanne Buchianico

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

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

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

Topics for this class include:

  • Learn to read and understand your Balance Sheet and P&L Statements
  • Create a chart of accounts that makes sense for your business
  • Separating out information on the P&L for management decisions
  • Entities and tax considerations - understanding how your entity is taxed. Handout is a tax projection worksheet for 2019 taxes
  • Cash flow forecasting - Handout is a cash flow projection spreadsheet to forecast revenues and expenses
  • Understanding margins and ratios - Deep dive into the P&L and Balance Sheet to understand how the numbers work together to make decisions. Handout is a worksheet on calculating and understanding the ratios & margins.
  • Use margins to price your services for profit
  • Calculate billing and burden rates
  • Action plans for success
. . . and More!


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

Includes five weeks of webinar classes with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor.

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

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Owner or Operations Manager.

Week One  
- Introduction to Your Company’s Finances

Week Two  
- Cash Flow Forecasting

Week Three  
- Margins, Ratios, KPIs, and Break even points

Week Four  
- Jobs, Budgeting, and Internal Controls

Week Five  
- Planning for Taxes
 
Only $299 per person



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

:-)

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Culture is Built from the Top Down



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next up: The Elements of Culture

-- -- -- 


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


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

Lots of details at . . . https://absolutelyunbreakablerules.com/ 

:-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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

Service Agreements for SMB Consultants - Applying the Book

Next Offering:

- Five Tuesdays - June 2 - June 30

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific



Based on the best-selling book Service Agreements for SMB Consultants, this course covers everything you need to know about developing your service agreements. And the book subtitle is important, too: A Quick Start Guide to Managed Services.

Most I.T. Professionals sign - or don't sign - contracts for the wrong reasons. Most think contracts are intended to draw battle lines for when you have a disagreement with your clients. In fact, that piece of the relationship is almost always outside the contract! We'll explore why you really need contracts or service agreements.

Please watch the video:

Not sure why Blogger doesn't used a widescreen thumbprint

We'll also look at various options, including a 2-page "terms of service" as well as managed services, programming agreements, and more.

Tuition for this course include the ebook version of the newly revised and expanded Service Agreements for SMB Consutants! That includes all the downloads from the book as well.

You will learn

  • Defining Yourself and Your Relationships
  • Define Yourself
  • Define Client Relationships
  • The Language of Service Agreements
  • The Service Agreement Construction Kit
  • A Sample Credit Agreement
  • Boilerplate: A Sample Service Agreement
  • Flat Fee or Managed Services Parts
  • The Managed Service Agreement
  • Getting Help and Managing Agreements
  • Getting Help - Lawyers, Accountants, etc.
  • Managing Your Service Agreements
PLUS lots more. This class is filled with great advice and tips on running your I.T. company and moving into the world of recurring revenue with managed services.

Includes five weeks of webinars with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor. All classes are recorded for download.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.

Register Now

Register Now

Only $299

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


A Few Details . . .

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

:-)



Friday, May 22, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway . . .

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

Here's the offer:

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

You also have the opportunity to donate additional amounts.

Learn More and Order Now


Details on the Book

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

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

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

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

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


Details on the Mission

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

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

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

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

Learn More and Order Now


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

Thank you in advance for all your support!!!

:-)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

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

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

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

Taught by Karl W. Palachuk, author and coach

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

Register Now

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

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

You do not need to be a current Sherweb partner.

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

Each session lasts one hour.

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

Lots more details - and a welcome video are at:
https://info.sherweb.com/msp-6-week-guide-to-success.html





Class starts very soon.

:-)

Webinar June 3rd - The Seven Stages of Wealth in Small Business

Join me for a free webinar:

The Seven Stages of Wealth and the Economy
A Model for Small Business Owners

June 3rd
9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern

Free

Register in advance for this webinar:
 

In this free webinar, I present my model for growing wealth in your small business. I describe the seven "stages" or states a small business can go through - and why most get stuck going back and forth between two of them. 

A small percentage of businesses successfully make their way to the Seventh Stage. But everyone could make it there!

I will also cover the four primary states that an economy might be in. And, as long as we're at it, we'll talk about how these two realities overlap one another. Both the state of your business and the state of the economy are always in flux. So there's no one or two things you can do to "be successful" all the time. Success is literally a journey that never ends. 

I have managed, built, bought, and sold a variety of businesses over the last twenty-five years. But none of that makes me an entrepreneur! Being an entrepreneur is NOT the same as owning or running a small business. I consider myself an entrepreneur because I have figured out the Seventh Stage - the stage beyond the daily grind, and beyond simply taking money to the bank.

You can make money without being an entrepreneur. 
You can be successful without being an entrepreneur.
You can buy and sell businesses, and even retire without being an entrepreneur.

So what does it take to move to the final stage and enjoy life at the next level? Join me on June 3rd and find out!

Note: Webinar attendees will receive a free white paper on the Seven Stages of Wealth, including a special exercise to help you focus your business so it's always heading in the right direction.

:-)

Friday, May 08, 2020

Late Charges, Finance Charges, and Treating Your Business Like A Business

A note for new entrepreneurs.


One of the most common mistakes made by new business owners is to extend credit to clients and not charge them extra for paying late and treating you like the bank. I made this mistake. In fact, most of the business owners I know have made it.


If you make this mistake, you will go down a road to some difficult lessons. Clients will pay you late – because there’s no penalty for late payment and, therefore, there’s no reason to pay on time. You will also have difficult conversations with clients if you start to enforce rules you haven’t enforced before.

I recommend that you adopt the following policies, no matter what your business:

1) Get paid in advance for everything. This is true for both products and services.

2) If you allow clients to make payments for anything (ignoring rule one), you should charge late fees and interest when clients pay late.

If you don’t set and enforce these policies, you will eventually learn the hard lesson that there are people who simply don’t pay their bills on time – and a few who never pay at all. As you have one bad experience after another, you will begin to adopt rules to keep bad things from happening again.

The first hard lesson is that money owed to you is never paid in full. And the more this debt grows, the less likely it is that you’ll be paid at all. This is no joke: I’ve had someone tell me that they can’t ask a client for the $70,000 they’re owed . . . because “They’re my best client.” All I could think of is, Who’s your worst client?

When debt grows like that, you eventually have to have a difficult conversation. Two things will come out of that. First, you will accept less than the full payment just to get rid of the debt. Second, you will lose this client. Either you will drop them or them will drop you.

Good riddance, I say.

The most I ever lost was a couple thousand dollars – which hurt a lot at the time. But it taught me to put rules in place to keep this from happening again.

Here’s the very odd part about putting the policy in place to get paid in advance for everything: There’s never any push-back. I have coached thousands of business owners to do this. Some had been allowing clients to owe them money for years.

And ninety-nine percent of every one who ever instituted this policy and reported back to me was surprised that no one batted an eye. Paying for things before you take delivery is a basic, non-controversial policy. Just do it.

If you wish to help your clients make payments, there may be several options available to you. Depending on your industry, your suppliers, and the manufacturers you work with, you may be able to point them to various programs to finance the products and services you provide.

There are all kinds of financing options, including leases, that are designed specifically to help businesses buy things and make payments over time. Find them and introduce your clients to them.

:-)



More juicy info for first time entrepreneurs . . .

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR FIRST-TIME ENTREPRENEURS


The Small Biz Quickstart Workbook


Author: Karl W. Palachuk


Karl has worked with thousands of business owners and managers – and helped several of them make the move to self-employment. With this workbook, Karl will help you make the launch as well. This workbook is guaranteed to help you learn about what it takes to start and run your new business.

Available Now!

www.smallbizquickstart.com







Thursday, May 07, 2020

CompTIA Presents Creating a Skilled Tech Workforce for the “New Normal”

A LinkedIn Live Event 

May 27th - 2 PM Eastern

LinkedIn Live 
May 27th 
2:00 PM Eastern

1:00 PM Central
11:00 AM Pacific

Featuring Diego Ferrer, CIO, Dept. of Aviation, City of Chicago 
and Dima Elissa, CEO, Founder of VisMed 3D 


– Mark your calendars now.

First: Connect to the CompTIA Profile on LinkedIn, here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/comptia/ 
 
Second, stay tuned for the "Live" event on May 27th at 2PM Eastern.


As we look to our future post covid-19, organizations will continue to ensure the health, well-being, and productivity of team members.  The new normal will continue with more virtual teams, online meetings and skilled technology workers that keep environments safe from hackers and employees up and running – meaning that your IT team needs to be at the top of their game. 

Join the Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community’s discussion with Diego Ferrer, CIO, Dept. of Aviation, City of Chicago and Dima Elissa, CEO, Founder of VisMed 3D. We’ll focus on top skills required for the new normal and strategies that help you build/acquire a “best in class” technology workforce. 


As a warm-up to this LinkedIn Live event, I did a podcast with Yvette Steele and Caroline Smith of the Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Executive Council. Listen here:


Podcast info:

Understanding the needs of the individuals on your team can be the difference between success and failure for workers as well as the organization.  What your team needed last month is not the same as the needs of this month and is guaranteed to change in the coming months. The status quo may be gone for good as each employee has different needs and desires relating to their work.  

As we manage the present and look to the future, leverage this break in tradition to be more creative - positioning employees and the organization for greater success.  Join the Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community’s discussion with community executive council members Karl Palachuk, Owner, Small Biz Thoughts and Caroline Smith, Owner, Dataworks Consulting as they share insights on the best ways to help employees deliver the best value, the role of company culture and the importance embracing new possibilities.

We’ll continue this conversation via LinkedIn Live on 5/27 at 1:00 CST – mark your calendars now.  We want to learn about what’s going on in your business as you manage through this crisis. Please take 2 minutes to respond to our 3-question survey. We’ll highlight and address your responses during the LinkedIn Live session. See you there!

:-)

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Lessons from the 2008 Financial Crisis

The "Great" recession of 2008-2010 was a different animal. Because it started with bank failures, cash disappeared much more quickly back then. Luckily, banks may be more helpful this time around.

But Lesson #1 remains the same: Cash is King!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTJeiaaBqsk
Okay, what does that mean to you? Well, the most important lesson is that now is NOT the time to extend credit to you clients. You are not the bank.

As a corollary: You should get paid in advance for as much as you can.

Luckily, in the last ten years, clients are used to monthly payments. This includes Office 365, Salesforce.com, QuickBooks, . . . and your services. As long as you are important to their operation, there will be no question about paying your monthly fee.

Lesson #2: Recurring Revenue will save you.

I can't tell you how many people have told me that recurring revenue saved their business ten years ago.

Also: Don't worry about selling new recurring revenue clients. Those terms are separate from the discussion of whether to hire you.

Lesson #3: This is NOT a time to lower your rates.

(I can't believe anyone is suggesting this.) Let's look at some basic math.

Let's say you lower a client's rate by $10/desktop and they have 25 users, that only saves them $250/month. No one is going to salvage their business by saving $3,000 per year!

But what will it cost you? If you cut $10/endpoint from you income, and have 1,000 endpoints deployed, your cost will be $10,000/month. That could kill your business - while not saving your clients.

At the end of the day, no one saves their business without cutting staff. With very few exceptions, employees are the largest expense for every company. For many, rent is second. You will do more service by helping them to work remotely than by cutting your rates.

Clients will tighten belts. There's no way around that. You can help them to make good choices around this. Help them use technology appropriately, and get the most from their investment.

Lesson #4: Money will move OUT in waves, and it will move back IN in waves.

First, the money will disappear from your clients' customers. Then from your clients. Eventually it will affect you. At some point, the economy will hit bottom and begin expanding. Then, money will move back into your clients' customers. Then back into your clients. Eventually it will flow again into your company.

Remember: You never know the bottom hits . . . until after you're on the way back up.

Luckily, you have ways to track lots of "indicators" in your business. These include time in your system (tickets with time estimates), hours billed, etc. Tune in and track the time as it moves through your system. You still won't see the bottom until it's behind you, but you may be able to spot it fairly quickly.

Note:

Sherweb's YouTube channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/SherWebOfficial

-- -- --

FTC note: I was compensated by Sherweb for the creation of this video, but received no compensation for this blog post.

:-)

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Help Us Fight the Sex Slave Trade - Report on our trip to Cambodia

Help Us Fight the Sex Slave Trade - Report on our trip to Cambodia

Please join us!

In February, Jeff Ponts invited me to join him and a number of other folks connected to the IT and telecom communities to head to Cambodia on a fact-finding mission to see what we can do to help rescue young people from the sex and slave trades - and provide them with the services they need to escape that life altogether.

We promised a "Report to the Community" on our trip. That got side-tracked by other world events. But we finally connected and scheduled it. Please join us. Tell your friends. Pass the word.

Zoom webinar: Report to the Community
May 13, 2020
9:00 AM Pacific Time

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5yVzY5s1RlulOkwRPxbOVg 


This is our first report and the beginning of an exploration of how our community might assist Agape International Missions (AIM) in their efforts.

This report is NOT limited to our connected community. Please share with everyone and encourage them to join us.

Our plan is to start with some background information and talk about the people, programs, and beneficiaries of the programs we explored. We are beginning the process of figuring out how we can help.

Thank you!

:-)

Monday, May 04, 2020

Help Your Clients Get Back to Their Offices - with SOPs!

One your most valuable resources is your competence. That requires that you show up with a plan. Don't just show up and ask, "Okay, what do you want me to do?"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_ggfkFU7-E
Give your clients well thought-out advice. How should they get back to work? Remember, you're playing the role of a professional here, so it  helps to have a plan. And, of course, Standard Operating Procedures are your friend!

Consider the options for your clients to get back into their offices: Will they all show up at once? Will they return in waves? Will one department show up first?

And what do you do with equipment that has been onsite while the people were gone? If it was turned off, you will need to boot it up, patch it, and make sure it's still secure. You may need to show up early for this.

The good news: You have all the skills you need to make this successful. Let's start with checklists.

In fact, you'll start with one master checklist. Consider people and equipment. Include old equipment, equipment coming back from "home," and possibly new equipment that will be purchased.

If you've moved clients off the cloud, then setting up cloud services on the old desktops will be needed.

Once you have a master checklist, you should customize it for each client.

The best way to get through all this is to have business-level conversations with your clients. I call these Roadmap meetings. If you haven't had one in a while (or at all), this is a great time to start having those conversations.

Remember the Peak End Rule: The memory of any interaction is heavily colored by the peak of the experience and the conclusion of the experience. In this case, your assistance moving them into their homes may be the peak of their experience. Let's hope that went well. And you have almost-total control of the "end" experience, if you plan it well.

Let's hope your clients remember you as one of the highlights of this very strange time.


Note:

Sherweb's YouTube channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/SherWebOfficial

-- -- --

FTC note: I was compensated by Sherweb for the creation of this video, but received no compensation for this blog post.

:-)

Why the Absolutely Unbreakable Rules Matter: You Do Not Need to Pick Up Every Nickel You Find!

Many people have heard me speak about the Absolutely Unbreakable Rules for success. These are, basically, the rules I've learned over the years running various businesses. These are not "nice ideas" or good thoughts. They are absolutely unbreakable for one extremely important reason: If you adopt these rules, you will not have to change them when hard times come.

One of the complaints I hear from people is that they think I don't understand how hard it is to do business out in the "real" world. Well, let's just say that's absurd.

In addition to the fact that I have built several successful businesses from scratch, I have also coached and worked with hundreds of small businesses all across the world. So I've seen pretty much every economic conditions you can imagine - and maybe a few you can't imagine.

One of the big fallacies that small business owner fall into is the belief that You Have to Take Every Job You Can - especially when you're small . . .

Or especially when you're starting out . . .

Or especially when the economy is bad . . .

Or especially in your (poor) city, county, state, province, etc.

This false belief is never true. Never. Ever. Ever. So why does it persist? There are several reasons.

First, please acknowledge that you never think this is true unless you are feeling desperate for money. When you sign a good contract, you don't think you have to take every job from every one who offers you work.

This false belief tends to be inversely related to sales - including attempted sales. When you are out selling yourself, you tend to be in the middle of a number of conversations that focus on what you have to offer and the problems you can solve for clients. Both of those help you to have a clear picture of the value you bring to a client engagement.

This false belief is based on a mentality of poverty. Oddly enough, acting on the false belief that you have to take every job will result in permanent poverty. When you are desperate and will take anything offered by anyone, you will never be a professional and you will never sell from a strong position.

This false belief will lead you to cut your prices and keep you below the industry average in your area. This under-valuing yourself can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Imagine two kids who come to your door selling cookies. Kid One says, "You don't want to buy any cookies, do you?" And no matter how cute the smile, your answer is, no.

Then Kid Two says, "I am able to offer these amazing cookies for just one week. I promise you'll love them. How many can I put you down for?" There's no guarantee you'll buy - but at least you'll consider it.

This false belief will lead you to take on cheap clients who will never hire you for big jobs. In fact, they won't even ask you to bid on good jobs. And when you ask why, they'll say that they rely on you for the little stuff.

Think about the "handy man" versus the $250/hr contractor. If you think they provide the same quality of services, you are fooling yourself. And IF that handy man has the same level of skills, he's still never going to get that rate - because he's under-selling himself!

Many one-time jobs might look like opportunities when they are not. There are clients that will only buy a couple of hours here and a couple of hours there and they will turn into "C and D clients" at the bottom of your list. They will never be "A and B" clients.

When you take on a client because you feel you have to, they will usually turn into clients that you have to get rid of one day. When you bottom-fish for clients because you feel you have to, you end up with clients who are

  • Super cheap
  • Super needy
  • Won't ever sign a contract
  • Make no commitment
  • Show no respect


Just remember: You get the business you build. If you build a business based on the false belief that you have no choice, you will end up with the worst kind of clients possible.

And when the economy shrinks into a recession, these are the clients who will argue about every detail and then not pay the bill. They will rip off without a second thought. Any why not? There will always be someone else who thinks they have to compete for every single nickel they can find.

How can Morton's Steak House stay in business when Cousin Larry's Pretty Good Steak and Lobster will sell you a twelve ounce sirloin for ten dollars? Because they have no interest appealing to the bottom end of the market.

You get the business you build. You get the clients you attract.

Please don't choose to under-value your business because you think you have to.

:-)

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Video Posted: Help Clients Thrive During This Difficult Period

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xc-x6JJFpPc.

Some people have raised the question: Is it sleazy to be selling at this time? Well, that depends on how you do it. Most of the consultants I talk to have been crazy busy helping their clients move to remote operations, improving their bandwidth, and making changes to guarantee security and productivity.

All of those activities can be categorized as "helping" or "providing value" - not as sales.

Sales should always be a value-focused activity. I've always had an example in my head of non-value sales. The picture in my head is the average checkout counter lined with impulse items. These are all about quick sales without regard to value.

But then I recall the few times it has rained while I was at Disneyland. If you haven't had this experience, it's amazing. Five drops of rain and suddenly every single store in Disneyland has ponchos and umbrellas for sale right next to the door. The minute the rain disappears, so do the ponchos and umbrellas. It really is something to see.

But that's not an example of impulse buying. A minute ago, I didn't need a poncho. Now I do. Poof! Instant value. I never think of this move as sleazy: I think of it as great customer service.

More than ever, this is a great time to engage your clients in Roadmap meetings: Strategic meetings about how to make the most of their technology investment. You might not charge for these meeting, or make any sales. But you will provide value . . . and help guide the client's spending down the road.

You've already helped them move out of their offices. Next you'll be helping them move back. In the meantime, you'll help them use technology that they've already paid for. You'll help them move to the Cloud. Remember: The cloud is your client's best friend. Moving clients to the cloud is not just good for you - it's good for them as well.

If you help clients focus on moving in the right direction, no matter what the circumstances, you will be a true advisor and not just the techie. This might include helping them downsize now - and up-size in a few months.

Don't worry about looking sleazy: Pay attention to helping clients to get value from you and from their technology.

Implement wise decisions and your clients will thank you when it's all over.

Bottom line: Be a consultant!

Note:

Sherweb's YouTube channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/SherWebOfficial

-- -- --

FTC note: I was compensated by Sherweb for the creation of this video, but received no compensation for this blog post.

:-)