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 [email protected]


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:

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


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 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!


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!

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.


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

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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:

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?"

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.


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

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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!


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

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