Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Alan Weinberger is on a Mission to Elevate the Role of the Managed Service Provider to the Public


The picture is mine. The press release is from ASCII . . .


A new book released by ASCII’s CEO explains the necessity of the MSP and how they are pivotal in the ongoing fight on cyber security 


Bethesda, Maryland – April 14, 2021 – The ASCII Group, a membership-based community of independent North American MSPs, VARs and Solution Providers, is pleased to announce that its Chairman and CEO, Alan D. Weinberger, has published a book illuminating to the general public how important a Managed Service Provider is in maintaining the health of our economy and our infrastructure itself, in the new cyber security era.

Weinberger’s book, “The Doctor’s In: Treating America’s Greatest Cyber Security Threat” explores the ever-changing online world and how businesses can safeguard and equip themselves with the best protection - in the form of a Managed Service Provider. In an easy-to-read format, the book explores how MSPs help us protect our ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ in our new digital age. The book also features forewords by noted experts in the field, Theresa Payton and Frank Abagnale.

“Alan has done an excellent job in helping the end-user to understand the necessity of the MSP in keeping the IT components of virtually every size company operating smoothly. Like a virologist today, there is no standing on past laurels when a criminal component is looking for new ways to get through the body or current IT defenses,” said Alan Bayles, a lawyer and businessman in New York City.

A long-standing supporter of IT professionals, Weinberger founded The ASCII Group in 1984 in Washington D.C., recognizing the important role these individuals played in the IT revolution of the 1980s.

“Alan Weinberger brings his decades of IT channel experience to bear on the topic of how Managed Service Providers are the indispensable link in the technology chain for small businesses the world over. Alan provides a bit of historical context and then explains the critical role that MSPs play in the deployment, maintenance, and ongoing securing of IT in businesses of all sizes,” said Joshua Liberman, President, Net Sciences, Inc. 

“The Doctor’s In: Treating America’s Greatest Cyber Security Threat” is a 62-page book with a retail price of $10. The ISBN is 978-1-6366-1343-7. It was published by Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more information go to the online bookstore at bookstore.dorrancepublishing.com.  


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 www.ascii.com


:-)


Tuesday, April 06, 2021

GreenLink Networks Announces Larry Meador Joins as Channel Manager

My friends at GreenLink slide this note under my door . . .

GreenLink Networks Announces Larry Meador Joins as Channel Manager


Addison, Texas – April 6, 2021 – GreenLink Networks, a channel-only provider of Business VoIP Services, is pleased to announce the appointment of Larry Meador as Channel Manager. In this role, Larry will be responsible for managing and developing GreenLink’s community of MSP partners across the country.

Larry is an industry veteran and well-known in the channel, and prior to joining GreenLink Networks, he was Senior Solutions Manager at CNET Content Solutions. He has also held Sales Management roles with Corel Corporation, Fujitsu and other retailers.

GreenLink Networks was started by an MSP with a vision to achieve the right balance between flexibility in services, reliability in uptime and call quality, and a commitment to partners by being 100% channel-focused.

“We are thrilled to have Larry join our team because he fits our core values and company culture. His dedication to his MSP relationships and commitment to the channel made it an easy decision for us,” said Mayron Herrera, CEO & Co-founder, GreenLink Networks. 

“GreenLink has quickly become a well-known and formidable competitor in the VoIP/UCaaS space. They truly care about helping their clients and are devoted to building long-term relationships with them,” said Meador.  “I’m honored to become a member of the GreenLink team and look forward to growing what they have started!”

“Larry’s 25 years of experience within the channel makes him the perfect addition to our team. We look forward to him showcasing our business communication solutions and helping our partners succeed,” said Jhovanny Rodriguez, Vice-President and Co-founder, GreenLink Networks. 

For additional information about GreenLink Networks, visit www.greenlinknetworks.com. Follow GreenLink Networks on Twitter @getgreenlink. 


About GreenLink Networks

Founded by Managed IT Service providers Mayron Herrera and Jhovanny Rodriquez, GreenLink Networks is a channel-only provider of Business VoIP Services with a generous partner program. The portfolio of VoIP services includes Cloud Business Phone Service (Hosted PBX) and SIP trunking. GreenLink Networks is compatible with multiple handset brands, offers flexible procurement options including purchase, rentals or use of existing IP enabled phones. For more information visit www.GreenLinknetworks.com. 


-30-


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How's Your Vendor BS-ometer?


Maybe I was just in the right mood at the right time, but I was thoroughly impressed with a little game show video ID Agent put together recently, promoting their appearance at the MVP Growthfest. Here's the LinkedIn post:

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mjsolomon_take-the-canadian-challenge-along-with-activity-6782680008071630848-oDeK/

I didn't find the muppet/puppet particularly compelling, but I *LOVED* the game show. First, it was fun. Second, it was engaging. Third, it's so simple that I have to figure out how I'm going to do something like this - for fun or business.

As I told Matt Solomon from ID Agent, I was jealous throughout this video. It was original. And, most importantly, it wasn't just another webinar!

I shared this video with several people. One of them didn't give it a second glance before he responded that he just doesn't pay attention to vendor BS anymore. My response was that (as an old man), I try to find inspiration anywhere I can. And I don't close the door to inspiration just because of the messenger.

But that got me thinking about a couple of questions. First, how do you view vendor-generated information? Do you think it's all BS? Do you think it's sincere? Do you think vendors care about you? And, Second, how has the pandemic-induced isolation affected your view of vendors and their messaging?

For the truly cynical, vendors just want to keep singing the same old song, do nothing new, and keep signing up partners for ever and ever, amen. If you've been in the business for ten, fifteen, or twenty years, you've seen this again and again. "Channel Chiefs" get together in a never-ending series of events and award each other Lucite trophies to take home to the cash cow in hopes of living long enough to see show.

I have a different view of the world. I have always relied on good vendors to make my business better. That's why, when I have a vendor on the SMB Community Podcast, I always ask the question straight out: "How do I make money with your product/service?" Speeds and feeds are awesome. Widgets and gadgets are fun. But, ultimately, I don't care about features as much as I care about providing better service to clients and making more money doing it.

I have always relied on vendors to provide education. While they are focused on their newest product, the part I care about is how to make money integrating that product into my service offering. Whether it was Microsoft, Intel, HP, or others, I "used" vendors to improve my business. I took the free education and made money from it.

Yes, there is a certain level of selling, but that's the price of admission. Most of the shows we go to are made possible by vendor sponsors. Much of the free education is only free because a vendor is paying for it. So you sit through the pitch.

I have been honored to work on white papers, webinars, classes, and a variety of roadshows and trainings with vendors. I have been most impressed with vendors who have an ongoing commitment to partner education. And here's the trick a few vendors have figured out: The education works best when it is a sincere attempt to help IT service providers to be more successful. When a vendor "gives first" with training like this, the partners are very open to a discussion of deeper partnerships.

In recent years, I have been very impressed with the ongoing efforts of Sherweb and Acronis. Both companies have made large investments in partner training on the business side of business. Note: I consider Sherweb to be in the "young and scrappy" category while I consider Acronis to be in the "older and established" category. So, you see, vendors don't have to at a particular stage of their maturity to provide good information to IT partners.


The Current Environment

Let's face it: Vendors have had a tough year. Starting in March 2020, they had to shift (rather suddenly) to a remote-only marketing environment. Some had plans in the works already. Others had to pivot quite suddenly from an essentially in-person-only marketing program.

I would typify many of the suddenly-remote events as just plain horrible. Recorded conference presentations with no interaction were the norm. Many vendors literally took their 30 minute stage presentations and recorded them as if they were Zoom calls. 

My understanding is that most vendors actually did well and reached their target sales numbers. That's cool. But, remember, that's in a world where we, the viewers, had no other options. 

Far too many IT professionals were suddenly watching more webinars, even though the content was far from interesting, useful, or compelling. Just as no one ever got fired for buying IBM, no vendor marketing manager ever got fired for holding a boring, self-serving webinar.

As the world begins to open up, we are quickly seeing the "Live Event" market return to pre-pandemic levels. My friend Dave Sobel (from The Killing IT Podcast) and I always disagree on how many events will go back to live. My personal opinion is: ALL of them. The only ones that won't be back are events that didn't do well and were destined to go away anyway.

I hope that you seriously consider evaluating whether webinars and live events are worth your time. Ask yourself: Why are you attending? Do you want to learn more about a new product? Do you want to get an education on best business practices? 

I hope you are NOT attending events because there's nothing better to do. If that's the case, go sit in you back yard and read a good book. Don't waste your time with online events just because you're bored.

I sincerely hope that more vendors take a tip from ID Agent and do something a little different. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering or amazing. One percent different is enough to stand out in a huge cloud of same-ness.


What do you think? Has your BS-ometer been recalibrated in the last year?

- - - - -

FTC Note: No one paid me to say anything here. ID Agent is not a client of mine. Sherweb and Acronis have been clients of mine. Nothing here is meant to represent the broader universe or the IT Service Provider industry. And I make no claims about whether anything here represents anything other than just my opinion. (And I think the FTC guidelines are watery enough to be useless.)

:-)


Monday, March 22, 2021

Dave Sobel to Join the SBT Roundtable - April 1st


Dave Sobel
to Join the SBT Roundtable - April 1st

Long-time community leader Dave Sobel joins us for the April SBT Roundtable. Members will find the link in your Dashboard.

Dave is a former MSP and has worked with a few vendors. Currently, he runs the MSP Radio network, producing the Business of Tech podcast and videos.

And, of course, Dave is a co-host on the Killing IT podcast.

For many years, Dave has been a community builder and a pioneer in the SMB IT consulting community. He is, quite honestly, a thought leader of the first order!


About the SBT Roundtable

The SBT Roundtable is a special program inside the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. We meet once a month (on the First Thursday of the month) in a webinar format via Zoom.

Basically, we have a high-level conversation that we hope adds some "mental DNA" to the normal business- and tech-focused discussions that we normally find ourselves in.

Members have found these meetings very educational.


If you are a member of the SBT Technology Community: Plan to Join us! The link is at the top of your dashboard.

If you are NOT a Community member, please Join Us . . . and then you can plan to join us!

:-)

Monday, March 15, 2021

Class - Managing Your Service Board - Starts March 23rd

Managing Your Service Board - Setup, Core SOPs, and Daily Procedures

5-Week class starts March 23rd

- Five Tuesdays: March 23 - April 20 - Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

This course covers the most important pieces of making your PSA (Professional Services Administration) service board work effectively. Your PSA is the brain center of your entire operation.

Most Managed Service Providers don't use their PSA systems efficiently. In fact, most of them only use 10-20% of the capabilities of their PSA. This costs you money because you have the tool to run everything in your business more effectively. But if you don't put the right information into the tool, then you can't get the reports you need to improve your business.

This course covers the daily operation of a managed service business - or any IT shop with a service board and a one or more technicians who execute the service. It assumes you have a service board or PSA (Professional Services Administration) and a service manager.

Whether you sell “break fix” or flat fee services, a service board will take your company to the next level – if you use it right. In addition to covering setup and core standard operating procedures, we'll get into the "nitty gritty" of running a service board and managing the service department.


Which PSA?

I used ConnectWise for four years in my business. Then I switched to Autotask and used that for five years. Eventually, I moved to LogicNow (SolarWinds MSP) and used that for four years.

On top of all that, I've worked closely with coaching client who have used all of these products. This course is intended to apply to all PSAs. I will point out areas where differences are most obvious.


You will learn

  • How tickets should flow into, through, and off of the service board
  • How to set up the core components of a service board
    • Priorities
    • Statuses
    • Workflows
    • Time Estimates
  • The most important processes and procedures for making the board work effectively once it's set up
  • Introducing new processes to you employees
  • Getting clients to understand the new processes
  • Time tracking the right way
  • The most important reports you need to run
    • Every Day
    • Every Week
    • Every Month
    • When it's time for client renewals
  • Avoiding the biggest pitfalls with service board management
  • Building an Action Plan that works


Additional Topics include:


  • Welcome to the Service Department
  • After Hours Work
  • On Call and Night Staff
  • Managing Internal Administrative Tasks
  • Assign Techs or Rotate Them?
  • Approved Tools
  • Employees in The Tech Department
  • Technician Daily Time Management -- includes daily work flow
  • Time Tracking for Employees
  • The Tech on Call for The Day - Managing Daily Workflow
  • How to Maximize Billability of Technicians
  • Email Rules and Etiquette for the Consultant
  • Technician Supplies
  • Final Friday Training
  • Troubleshooting Guidelines
  • Troubleshooting and Repair Logs
  • Service Delivery Policies and Procedures
  • The First Client Visit
  • Guide to a Service Call
  • The Network Documentation Binder - NDB
  • Response Times - Guarantees and Delivery
  • Time Entry and Note Entry in Service Tickets
  • Information Sharing
  • Service Board Backlog Management
  • Daily Monitoring of Client Machines
  • Patch Management Philosophy and Procedures
  • Setting Up Alerts in Your PSA and RMM
  • New PC Checklists
  • Server Down Procedures
  • Third Party Tech Support - Documenting Calls
  • Third Party Tech Support - Rules of Engagement
  • Document Pouches
  • Service Focus: Monthly Maintenance
  • Why We Do Monthly Maintenance
  • Scheduling Monthly Maintenance and On Site Visits
  • Checklist for Major Scheduled Maintenance
  • The Monthly Maintenance Checklist
  • Monthly Single Checklist
  • Outsourcing (some) of Your Monthly Maintenance
  • Backup Monitoring, Testing, and Management
  • Disaster Recovery - An Overview

Delivered by Karl W. Palachuk, blogger and author of the very popular "SOP Friday" posts.

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.

Only $299
Register Now
:-)

Check Out the #1 Best-Selling book on Managed Services ever!

Managed Services in A Month
by Karl W. Palachuk

3nd Edition - Newly Revised and Updated with TEN new chapters


Paperback - Ebook - Audio Book

The #1 best selling book on managed services ever!

It's never too late to jump into a maintenance-focused, flat-fee recurring revenue model.

Now includes information on making cloud services part of your managed service offering!

If you're new to IT consulting or ready to make the move from break/fix to managed services, this is the "cookbook" you need.

Click to view table of contents, sample chapter, and more.

Learn More!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Join the Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community at CompTIA CCF

The Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community at CompTIA has TWO events at the CompTIA Communities and Councils Forum next week.

- Non-Members Welcome


FIRST - Register for CCF Here 

https://www.comptia.org/events/all-events/comptia-communities-and-council-forum-(ccf)-2021


THEN check out the agenda and find these two meetings on Wednesday the 17th:


How to Cultivate High Potential Talent: Nurture Diversity from Within

9:35 AM - 10:10 AM PDT on Wednesday, March 17

Competing for top talent is a thing of the past if you nurture the talent you already have. When it comes to ensuring that high potential employees are cultivated and developed, a one-size-fits all approach will miss the mark every time, especially as you look to advance diverse talent through the ranks. It’s important to know which strategies work most effectively for which high potentials. Join the Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community as we share methodologies and best practices to ensure that you have the leaders you need when you need them.


and

Advancing Tech Talent & Diversity Community Meeting

11:00 AM - 11:45 AM PDT on Wednesday, March 17

Imagine if your company did everything in its power to ensure that all employees performed to their full potential. What if you could connect, collaborate, and hear from industry peers on what works and lessons learned along the way? Join the Advancing Tech Talent & Diversity Community to hear about our latest initiatives and participate in our roll-up-your-sleeves “masters in tech” workshop. Your thought leadership will contribute to our soon-to-be-released Guide to Jobs in Emerging Tech.

-- -- --

We'll see you online March 16-17!

I sit on the Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community at CompTIA and I would LOVE to see you there. 

:-)




How to Build an Ecommerce Site

In the last blog post, I introduced the topic of creating an ecommerce site on your web site. In this post, I will outline the basic elements you need. Read the previous post here.

There are many ways to build an ecommerce site. Trust me: I've built most of them. In fact, I've built the back-end for ecommerce and EDI (electronic data interchange) sites since 1995. Before I got into SMB IT consulting, I designed EDI systems for Nike, Wrangler, and other major companies. I worked with one of the major retail point-of-sale software companies, and developed their first internet sites.

With my book store and online classes, I have built several sites over the years. Here are the basic elements of online sales.


First: Hosting

Whether you build a site on your own web site, or outsource to a hosting service, the store has to "live" somewhere. This might include an eBay store, an Amazon store, a fully hosted site such as Volusion, or a front-end to someone else's store.

But - as I mentioned in the last blog - you probably don't want to be in the store business. By that I mean  that the store is not your primary business. Consulting and cloud services/managed services are still your primary business. So, the store you build is not intended to compete with Best Buy or Staples. That should give you the freedom to stop worrying about the variety of your offerings or the prices you offer.

In the simplest setup, you have a simple WordPress site with a small store. That's it. A few dozen items. And lots of links that engage clients and prospects in meetings and consultation. (That's where the real sales take place.)

Here's what we recommend, and we're building for our Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community members:
  • A WordPress site on a subdomain, so it looks like your site (e.g., store.company.com)
  • Secure hosting, of course
  • 2FA to log into the back end/dashboard
Your actual store will be built from there.


Second: The Money Stuff


This is perhaps the scariest part for most people who haven't built ecommerce sites before. You may have built something like this for clients, but not for yourself.

You need software that connects your store to your money. The two primary components are very straight forward:

1) A credit card/ACH/PayPal module that allows visitors to give you money

2) A "gateway" that transfers that money to your bank account

Again, there are many options here. I have worked with Authorize.net, my bank, PayPal, Merchant Warehouse, and a few other merchant services. They each charge a different amount. As you might expect, the easy options take a higher percentage of your sale.

Today (early 2021), you should expect to pay no more than 3% plus a small transaction fee, around twenty-five cents. Your bank will probably be the most expensive option. 

Here's what we recommend, and we're building for our Community members:
As you can imagine, all of these accounts have very long, complicated, random passwords, with 2FA enabled wherever possible.

Do not let fear keep you from implementing this. Every organization involved here has security as their absolute highest priority. You might have hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake, but these services have billions of dollars at stake.


Third: The Actual Store

Finally, you need to define your offerings. As I mentioned in the last blog post, there will be three kinds of products and services for sale.

In addition to the simple "items" in your store, there must be a means for you to stay informed about new orders. As a rule, these are emailed to a specific address. We recommend a group email or list address, so that whoever processes orders can take a day off. This functionality is built into the store software, but needs to be configured by you.

Obvious and easy items are all the things your clients (and strangers) can buy without discussion, explanation, or higher-level consultation. This might include lots of great bundles. For example: Consider offering,

  • A Zoom Room Bundle. Includes a 60" television, a wall mount for the TV, a NUC mini PC, HD camera, conference microphone, VOIP phone, and associated cables and labor. $2,999.
    (You can make money with that, right?)

  • HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dn printer, cables, and installation labor. $599.
  • Work-from-home secure setup. 24" HP monitor, HP Workstation Z2 G5 - Core i7 2.9 GHz - vPro - 16 GB - SSD 512, Logitech 930 camera, Blue Yeti microphone, ring light, and setup labor. $2,499.

Recommended catalog items are basically your quarterly "recommended" configurations. This will primarily include a recommended laptop configuration, a recommended office desktop configuration, and perhaps a recommended file server.

If you have one or more clients with special needs (e.g., dental offices, car sales departments, or manufacturing), you may offer a handful of standardized desktop or all-in-one configurations. These are not quite the same as the "obvious and easy" items. But to your existing clients, they are probably quite obvious and easy to understand.

As a rule, you should be happy to have your clients put in a credit card and buy a new desktop setup - with or without the labor. It would be even better if they could check a box and add a new workstation to managed services!

If strangers wander in from the Internet, put in their credit card, and order equipment, you will probably also be happy to take their money. But note: Some consultation may be required. Yes, take their money. Never hesitate there. But absolutely require that they have a consultation to make sure that they're buying the right thing. 

Remember: You're not competing with Walmart here. You want to draw people into your consulting business. You may have the odd stranger who just buys top-shelf equipment for top-shelf prices, but that would be an odd stranger indeed.

Products and Services that require consultation. Finally, you will have offerings that are intended primarily for "strangers" and prospects. This is really a marketing ploy disguised as a sales offering. Here, you can list your major offerings. This might include your three-tiered offering, your Cloud Five-Pack, and even blocks of labor.

You don't need to list pricing here. The actual goal is to make clear the core offerings of your consulting business. Prospects will educate themselves about your offerings. And, once they are tempted  to buy, they will click the big button to schedule a meeting with you.

You might offer pricing on some items, strategically, so that clients have an idea of what to expect when the request a consultation. For example, an anchor price for labor will help them get used to your pricing before they see the first proposal. 


What We're Up To

Here's my bottom line: I think you need to set up an ecommerce site. I believe this is the future. More than once, I've bet on my vision of the future. So I'm happy to do it again.

I am laying out the specifics of this idea so that anyone can implement it. After many years of working in ecommerce, I have learned that there are many ways to do this. So, I am helping people to build the easiest, most obvious option.

Inside the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community, we are building a model store site and offering our members assistance in building their stores. But don't worry, you don't have to be a member to build your site. I will give you the details of what we're doing. At the same time, I do not encourage you to be side-tracked from your primary business. 

But this is something you should do. Just keep it as a supplemental income stream.

Here's the deal: Some people will immediately realize what it takes to do this, and will jump at the opportunity. Some people will rely on us to help them build their own site. Then they will be off to manage it themselves. And, finally, some people will simply allow us to create this site for them.

I'll spell out more details on this blog, so stay tuned.

Please post questions and comments here. I'm happy to discuss. 

:-)


Monday, March 08, 2021

Selling Directly from Your Web Site

 It is past time for this idea: You should be selling a selection of products and services from your web site. There are two obvious audiences for this: Your current clients and your future clients!

The world of ecommerce is about twenty-five years old. And the pandemic of 2020 demonstrated that it can continue to grow at an astounding rate. According to Digital Commerce 360, online commerce grew 44% year over year in 2020.

I hope you're asking yourself, "Where's my share?"


What is an Online Store?

Let's start by defining our terms. I *do not* recommend that you open a big, monster, full-featured store to compete with Best Buy, CDW, or Dell. I'm not recommending that you get in the commodity mass-sales business. But I do encourage you to build a store that increases and improves your business.

But there are plenty of things you should be offering your clients. I hope you see that we've been moving in this direction for a long time. 

When I had an MSP, I always tried to be my client's source for ink, toner, cables, keyboards, UPSs, speakers, and so forth. These are consumables and smaller items. You can see that these are just a step away from printers, monitors, scanners, and other common equipment. 

Stop and think.

Do you think that printers are clearly in your product line, but toner is not? Many MSPs have never focused on the smaller items and consumables, but they are a natural extension of what you already sell. And let's be honest: There's a massive markup with these smaller items.

Look at what you pay for CAT6 cables versus what clients would pay at Office Depot, Staples, and Best Buy. Even at "discount" web sites, you can sell cables priced by the foot and be cheaper. But . . . I don't recommend you sell on price.


Three Types of Products

I recommend that you divide products/services into three broad types:

1) Easy and self-explanatory. This includes all the little things listed above as well as big-screen TVs for the conference room, cameras, lighting kits, all-in-one workstations, VOIP phones, and cell phones.

2) Your recommended catalog. This includes your "recommended configuration" for a desktop, laptop, and even entry level server. Yes, I know that prices bounce up and down, but you know you can define a machine that you can sell at a good price for three months. Re-evaluate and repost your recommended configurations each quarter.

3) Consultation required. This is the really juicy good stuff. This category divides nicely into two sub-categories. The first sub-category consists of larger items that businesses might want, and might even buy without consultant. BUT, once they start exploring something like a high-end firewall, they will be invested enough that you can engage them in a conversation. In fact, you might be able to ding their credit card for something like $3,000 and then engage them in a discussion.

The second sub-category is your primary offering: Managed Services, Cloud Services, and major projects. You probably don't want to post this pricing on your web site. But that's perfectly fine. Once a prospect has read through your site, spent time educating themselves on your company, and reviewing your services, the button to schedule a consultation will be a natural next step.


You're Not as Unique as You Want to Believe (Sorry)

I addressed this in Managed Services in a Month and other places. Time and time again, I hear the argument that "every" client is unique. And our offering is unique. And so, we can never have a standardized offering.

But, of course, we've all figured it out. Yes, there's always some unique element. But you have certainly figured out a Cloud Five Pack offering and three-tiered price list by now. If not, re-read Managed Services in a Month and Cloud Services in a Month.

My point is simply that there is a role to be played by a standardized offering, and you will always need to add your consulting to every engagement. 


What About Price Competition?

STOP worrying about price! 

I wish I could scream this from the mountain tops. 

Pick an item. Anything. Absolutely anything. Cars, houses, cameras, computers, cell phones, and even ball point pens. Anything you want to buy has a very large price range. And people who could afford the very expensive option often choose the lesser priced option. Similarly, people who can barely afford the lowest price option somehow figure out how to buy a more expensive choice.

Price is all about value - not dollars or pounds or Euros.

I have met many IT professionals that have a flat 50% markup on everything they sell. I applaud this. We always had a flat 25% markup. If you have a policy such as this, you find yourself selling products far above the "suggested" retail price. What you won't find is that clients run down to Best Buy. Instead, they either buy what you sell, or engage you in finding another alternative.

Remember: If you choose to compete on price, two things are always true:

1) You probably won't make money

2) YOU made this choice

The best thing you have going for yourself as a consultant is . . . consultation. 

When you sell equipment, it should be business-class equipment with a three-year warranty. It should actually last three years. And your clients should know that you are committed to selling them the right solution. That often costs more. But in the long run, you can dramatically improve your clients' experience with the right equipment.

-- -- --

In the next blog post, I'm going to lay out what it takes to build the kind of store I'm talking about.

Post comments and questions here. I'm happy to respond.

:-)


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Harry B Hits the Road: Digital Inclusion Roadshow 2021 Begins NOW

Harry Brelsford passed me this press release over the transom . . .


Digital Inclusion Roadshow 2021 features pop-up computer donation sites to support local nonprofit organizations’ work to end the Digital Divide.



SMBNation, in cooperation with Lenovo, PC Matic and ZPI, kicks off a whirlwind pop-up technology donation event across 5-western U.S. states to support Digituity’s efforts to close the technology gap.


NORTH CONWAY, N.H., February 26, 2020 — Digitunity and SMBNation, in cooperation with technology manufacturer Lenovo, software provider PC Matic and managed service provider Zepol Productions, Inc. (ZPI), launches a whirlwind 5-state Digital Inclusion Road Show that includes technology donation drives to collect working used computers and repurpose them to provide technology access and skills training to people who need it most. 

“At Digitunity, we believe that device ownership is the heart of digital equity and the key to unlocking opportunity, particularly for those most marginalized,” shared Sue Krautbauer Digitunity’s Senior Director of Strategy and Development. “Owning a computer is essential in today’s digital society allowing one to participate in telehealth appointments, find employment, engage in training and more.”

Over 55 million people in the United Statesdo not have a computer at home, and tens of millions of households do not have enough computers to allow for concurrent use by multiple family members. Yet around 56 million new computers are purchased each year. What happened to the computers they replaced?  There are enough computers for everyone in America. "The need to close the digital divide has never been more urgent, and we here at PC Matic proudly support the mission of great organizations like Digitunity" stated Corey Munson, Vice President, PC Matic.

A computer donation drive is a great opportunity for local residents and technology businesses to donate used, working computers to local nonprofit organizations, who then put the donated laptops and desktops to good use supporting their community-based missions. “It’s in our DNA to support causes such as this technology drive. The tour is a natural fit as ZPI is in the technology hardware maintenance business, so we get it.”, said Scott Lopez, CEO, ZPI.

At each stop on the tour, a member of the Digital Opportunity Network, a nationwide Digitunity community of 1400+ member nonprofit organizations will be highlighted and benefit from the technology donations raised during this event.  These worthy organizations’ efforts include distributing computers and internet access, conducting skills training, digital support in their communities. 


Site-Specific Info:

(Check for Updates Here)

Feb 26 - Seattle, WA   => Supporting Interconnection.  https://interconnection.org/

Mar 1 - Boise, ID  => Supporting Computers for Kids.  https://www.cfkid.org/

Mar 2 - Salt Lake City, UT  => Supporting Tech Charities.  https://techcharities.org/

Mar 4 - Albuquerque, NM => Supporting multiple organizations, more info to come.

Mar 10 - Austin, TX => Supporting multiple organizations, more info to come.


“Lenovo’s vision as a company is to provide smarter technology for all" said Libby Richards, community engagement manager at Lenovo. “At Lenovo, we continue to partner with organizations like Digitunity to provide local communities with critical access to technology to help solve problems, create opportunities, and transform the way we all live."

The digital divide has been with us for decades and continues to be a barrier to success for millions in our country. Device ownership is the key that unlocks vast opportunity. The purpose of the Digital Inclusion Road Show is to unite local businesses and nonprofits and, by working together, to get computers to everyone in need in their communities.

To learn more about the Digital Inclusion Road Show or to donate, visit https://pages.donately.com/digitunity/campaign/digital-inclusion-road-show-2021

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Digitunity, an initiative of National Cristina Foundation, is leading a national strategy to eliminate the technology gap at scale. We partner, coordinate, educate, ignite and unite people, ideas and solutions so that everyone can participate fully in a digitally-connected world.  Learn more at www.digitunity.org.

SMB Nation is a nationwide community of over 3,000 small and medium business (SMB) technology professionals providing critical information technology services in their local markets. Learn more at www.smbnation.com

###


Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Position Your IT Firm for Growth or Sale – New Class Starts Feb. 16th

Totally Revised for 2021

Position Your IT Firm for Growth or Sale – 5W19

Taught By: Rayanne Buchianico


Five Tuesdays - February 16 - March 16

Register Now - Only $299

All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific


As your business matures, you want to take control of profits and your financial house. You invested the time to set up your chart of accounts, align income with COGS for easy measuring, and organize your reports and service desk. You have the information you need; this course teaches you how to use it.

This class provides unique content from a unique teacher! Rayanne is a managed service provider from Tampa, FL. She is also an accountant 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:

  • Create KPIs specific to your company
  • Benchmark against your peers
  • Detailed cash flow management and measure debt against income
  • Measure service-level profits and improve profitability
  • Identify red flags in your business, make changes before they become problems
  • Prepare your company for growth, sale or merger
  • Use margins to price your services for profit
  • Income Tax Planning and Projections
  • Action plans for success

... And More!


Delivered by Rayanne Buchianico, Accounting Professional 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.

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

Only $299

:-)


Monday, February 01, 2021

Acronis reports on the "Pulse of the Industry"

Today, Acronis published their Pulse of the Industry report. This is a follow-up to research they reported in 2020. The focus of this report is the future of managed services and where we make money. One un-surprising conclusion is that the move to the cloud is being accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.


You can grab the report at: https://www.acronis.com/en-us/resource-center/resource/560/.


Here are a few of my thoughts.

One of the most striking findings is the comparison of actual 2020 sales with projected 2021 (and beyond) sales. The vast majority of respondents reported stable or increasing sales for unified communications, networking, and systems integrations.

Looking ahead, these same respondents project major reductions in traditional onsite maintenance, hardware and software sales, and even remote management. They foresee increases in cloud-based management and managed security services.

One important message in all of this: The source of your revenue is changing - fast.

Here's a personal caveat to all such reports: If you haven't read Flash Foresight by Daniel Burrus, please do so as quickly as possible. Burrus gives great advice about examining future trends. One of him most important points is that we can only find a handful of "future facts" or hard trends. Everything else is a future possibility or soft trend.

From the report:
Click to Enlarge

I reproduced one of the graphics from the report here. I will take the list of current top revenue sources as fact: Network security, endpoint protection, data protection, remote monitoring, and email security. But the projection for the next two years is topped by Cloud/SaaS security and backup. As the report points out, this "top" future revenue source is not even on the respondents' radar right now. 

Let me be clear: That's the direction we're going. But to move from not-on-the-list to top of the list in the next two years seems a bit drastic.

The report does make clear what most of us know and the rest suspect: Onsite hardware and software are disappearing fast. And the Covid pandemic is a great opportunity to talk to your clients about finally making the move. After all, many of them have been working from home while their server sits alone in a closet at the office. They understand that they don't have to be able to walk in the next room and touch the server in order for it to work.

Now, take all that and put in the context of modern ransomware, impending regulation, increased insurance rates, and the never-ending battle over cybersecurity. The result is that 2021 will be a great year for MSPs who are pivoting away from onsite hardware for email and storage. Those trends have been around for more than a dozen years, but they will take a big leap this year.

Please check out the report. I would be happy to discuss your feedback. Drop comments below.

:-)


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Exclusive Resource: Sales in the Era of Zoom

We've added a new white paper in the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community: Sales in the Era of Zoom by Carolyn Heinze.

2021 is a year for tremendous opportunity for MSPs. One of the challenges is learning to effectively sell without visiting clients in their office. Remote Sales can be conducted by Zoom, Teams, or another remote meeting tool. In this white paper – written exclusively for the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community – Carolyn Heinze addresses this challenge head-on.


Topics include 

  • Making remote appointments
  • Getting comfortable with the remote process
  • Helping clients with remote meetings
  • Executing the sales call
  • Follow-up
  • . . . and more. 

She concludes with a “Get Started” checklist and a note on securing the sales call.

We hope members you’ll use this to develop a remote sales process. You might even include a little training on online meetings as a way to build rapport with prospects and give some value before you do a sales pitch. Start by asking the prospect how they’re doing. Be a consultant – not a sales person – and you’ll gain their trust.

Do not put off sales until the pandemic is over. That’s never a good strategy, especially in an economic downturn! 

Note: This white paper is 100% free to all members, no matter what level you subscribe at.

Members Access the White Paper Here

Non-members may buy a copy of the white paper for only $1,099. That includes one year of membership, with all rights and privileges.

-- -- -- 


Carolyn Heinze
has covered everything from technology, business, broadcasting, distribution, manufacturing, management, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, collections and credit, careers, human resources, culture, entertainment, advertising, marketing, fashion, restaurants, travel, architecture and design, house and home, facilities management, energy and electricity, professional AV and lighting, yoga, cowboys and cowgirls . . . and the horses they love. 

Currently, she focuses on SMB-centric topics related to IT, operations, leadership, and management, as well as enterprise-level AV/IT.


-- -- --

The Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community

Karl Palachuk’s Small Biz Thoughts is the premier online community and training resource for IT service providers, whether they call themselves VARs, Managed Service Providers, or IT Professionals. You can find out more about our community at SmallBizThoughts.org.

Remember: Just because you’re in business for yourself doesn’t mean you have to go it alone!

:-)


Monday, January 25, 2021

Why I Give Away Valuable Information

 I was bragging a bit on Facebook the other day about how much traffic we're getting on our YouTube channel - https://youtube.com/smallbizthoughts. We have reached 7,000 views per month!

One of my longtime Facebook friends, David, made the following comment:

"Karl, it comes as no surprise to me. Unlike many others in your field, you provide very valuable content with no financial commitment. Many others seem like they are just trying to lure you in to buy their latest training series for $.

I realise you also offer paid for content, but you are one of the most generous contributors to the SMB IT community."

I know that many people are suspicious of "free" stuff - especially if they don't know me. Those who've known me for ten or fifteen years are far less suspicious.

So I thought I'd expose my thinking about giving away information free of charge. It begins with this view of the IT Consulting community (click to enlarge):

Like everyone else, I started my company as "just me." Unlike many others, I had deep experience with very large organizations' IT infrastructure, including managing teams of twenty-five people (and more) to take care of almost ten thousand endpoints.

I grew my business from just me to more than a dozen people. Somewhere along the line, I was one of the early adopters and proponents of what we now call managed services. I went on to advise larger and larger organizations with multi-state operations and over a hundred employees.


Sharing and Growing - in the Community

Along the way, I shared my knowledge. At first, it was online in forums and newsgroups. Then in in-person local meetings. Eventually, I spoke at SMB Nation and many other conferences. I wrote books and toured the world training IT consultants. Sometimes I trained them on specific technologies (e.g., Microsoft servers); sometimes I trained them on my philosophies and techniques.

All along the way, I realized that there are different needs for different kinds of companies. 

I also noticed that almost everyone providing services to IT consultants wants to talk to and help the larger companies who have mostly figured out how to be successful already. These folks basically charge for everything. They either charge you - the attendee - or they charge the vendor who wants your attention.

My experience has taught me that the smallest companies need the most help. I learned how to put this in words thanks to my friend Don from Australia. He pointed out that "little guys" like him (he's easily a foot taller than me) can only work on one thing at a time. So it makes no sense to buy into a big training program. He literally cannot send the service manager to one set of classes, the sales manager to another set of classes, and the customer service reps to a third. He is all those people.

At any given time, the types of companies illustrated above exist in some mixture.

  • New consultants enter the market. Nowadays, these people might be called "managed service providers" - but they don't call themselves that. How could they? If you think you're a computer consultant, the term managed service has no actual meaning. So you're not going to call yourself that or Google it.
  • Eventually, these folks learn about managed services and try something. But they need to learn more about the business model. LOTS of them try a few things they read about online, but do so out of context. So they don't have much success.
  • Many are simply never convinced that managed services will work for them.

I want to help these people! My personal mission for my life and for my companies is to help as many people as possible to be successful. For these folks with one-person companies who are trying to figure things out, I have lots of free resources. 

Note: About 70% of the contents of my four-volume Managed Services Operations Manual is available for FREE on my blog. And, in fact, I've indexed a lot of it at www.sopfriday.com. So you can get a lot by reading the blog and never spending a penny.


Growing Companies

As companies grow, they face new challenges they didn't have before. And they need just as much help. With luck, they have a little money to buy some books, buy some classes, and maybe buy a membership. Again, my goal is to help as many people as possible.

The biggest challenge for these companies is staying focused on what matters: Profit! All too often, they get side-tracked into discussions about how much revenue they have or how many employees they have. And, all too often, they are not profitable. They lie to themselves about growth and investing in their future. They convince themselves that they'll be profitable tomorrow or next year.

And, to be honest, they join peer groups that encourage these behaviors. In some of these groups, people get together and lie to each just so they don't lose respect from each other. They are barely getting by, going deeper into debt all the time, and bragging it up with their friends.

For these folks, I offer classes and books and membership. But more than that: I offer honesty that no one else is giving them. 

Too many people in this business are losing money and afraid to face it. They are digging themselves into debt and growing poor instead of growing rich. I am committed to helping these people straighten out their companies and their personal finances. 

I'm not perfect. I've been through some really bad finance experiences. So I'm in no place to judge. But I've also built a number of successful companies and helped a lot of people grow their companies to new heights.

These growing companies can and should be saved by the magic of recurring revenue! As many people have experienced, recurring revenue reduces a lot of stress. First you make $1,000 per month. That's enough know that the system works. Then you make enough to cover rent and utilities. Eventually, you make enough to cover payroll. But all along the way, you have some extra cash flow and the ability to try new things.

In a business that completely redefines itself every five years, trying new things is a requirement. But if you're scratching and clawing to pay the rent, it's much easier to keep doing the old stuff that got you where you are - even though you know it doesn't work.

My for-pay programs are great for these growing companies for one big reason: I provide the training you can assign to the service managers, the sales managers, and the customer service reps. When you're ready to change ten things at once and super-charge the whole organization, our program is perfect. We probably don't charge enough for it. But I'm okay with that. I've never felt good about memberships where everyone paid a different price. So mine is priced for the smaller companies.


Large Companies Need Love, Too

One of the great frustrations of my life is that larger companies think they've got it all figured out. If fact, I know from experience, most of them haven't figured out much at all. I've coached companies of all sizes, and I can tell you, they ALL have the same problems. Companies with two employees don't have good processes and procedures. Companies with a million in revenue don't have good processes and procedures. Companies with fifteen million in revenue don't have good processes and procedures. 

These companies call on me from time to time. I always help them out. But they ALL could do themselves a great big favor by just going through my programs and saving about $50,000 in coaching.

In fact, starting last year, I now include my Community membership in my coaching program because I spend so much time telling people to read this chapter or take that class. I didn't want them to think I'm just trying to sell more stuff, so I raised the price and included everything I've ever written.


. . . So you see . . .

I give away lots of information to people who need it the most. They can only do one thing at a time. So a blog post or a YouTube video works great for them.

And I don't worry that larger companies will gobble up all this free information and never buy anything. They are convinced that nothing free is worthwhile, so they pay me to give them the same information in exchange for money. That way they find value in it and feel good about the transaction.

Never feel guilty downloading the information I give away for free. But once you start to grow, I would appreciate it if you buy a book from time to time. Or take a  class. Or join my community. We'd love to have you. https://www.smallbizthoughts.org

:-)

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Special Webinar: PPP 2021 Update with Rayanne

I am pleased to announce a very special webinar for all US-based IT consultants. It features Rayanne Buchianico and Rich Freeman.


This Webinar was recorded:

January 12th

You may view it here, on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh8vWGn6c18


Rayanne is well-known as an instructor, MSP, and accountant. She has been a great source of knowledge for our community on all things related to PPP and EIDL over the last year.

As we know, Congress has approved a "second round" of benefits for small business, with new requirements. Rayanne has been studying this and is ready to give us an update.


Rich Freeman is the Executive Editor at the ChannelPro Network. He has been following the PPP/EIDL story for the last year and is well informed on how these programs have been used by IT consultants of all sizes. 

We will start with an update from Rayanne, and information about what the new programs look like. Then Rich and I will join in for a panel discussion.

We will be taking questions from the audience. So prep any questions you have. 

Free, of course.

Additional site mentioned by Rayanne: https://abcsolutionsfl.com/resources

Post questions and comments here!

:-)


Tuesday, January 05, 2021

The ASCII Group Announces Keynote Speakers and Content for 2021 Events

This flew in through the transom from my friends as ASCII . . .



The ASCII Group Announces Keynote Speakers and Content for 2021 Events

Bethesda, Maryland – January 5, 2021 – The ASCII Group, a membership-based community of independent North American MSPs, MSSPs and Solution Providers, is pleased to announce the featured speakers for its 2021 Event Series. The agenda for the events showcases an enhanced focus on education, providing attendees with new approaches and best practices on how to grow their IT companies while best servicing their customer base. The sessions will feature more MSP-led education content from its presenters (including ASCII members), bringing even more value to attendees.

Keynote Speaker – Mike Michalowicz, “Fix This Next”

Deemed the top contender for the ‘patron saint of entrepreneurs’, Mike Michalowicz, has helped thousands of businesses use his techniques to better their overall operations. Considered one of the leading business makeover specialists, Mike has authored the ‘Pumpkin Plan’, ‘Profit First’ and will be discussing how businesses can determine what to do, in what order, to ensure healthy, fast and permanent growth with his latest book ‘Fix This Next’.

Keynote Speaker - Robbie Kellman Baxter, “The Forever Transaction”

The Forever Transaction is a ready-to-use game plan for running a successful and sustainable subscription business. A veritable blueprint for success in the new subscription-based economy, Robbie’s approach is a must-do for organizations of any size; it’s a true game-changer. From initial start-up or testing of a new model, to scaling the operation for long-term growth and sustainability, to revamping your culture so everyone works together to optimize customer lifetime value. Learn how to build lasting customer relationships that are the very foundation of business success – today, tomorrow and forever.

Additional MSP peer education and industry speakers include:

"Be Heard! Why Your MSP Story Matters Now", C.J. Ezell, Founder & CEO, Cross Bay Digital Marketing

"How MSPs Can Best Manage & Solve Growing Pains", Stephen Monk, CEO, Noverus Innovations

"How to Build a Winning Client Advisory Board", Vince Tinnirello, Managing Director, Anchor Network Solutions

“Now, more than ever, the goal of ASCII events is to provide the MSP community with actionable content that can be easily implemented into their IT businesses,” said Jerry Koutavas, President, The ASCII Group. “In addition to a relatable keynote speaker, and a showcase pavilion of best-of-breed technology, attendees leave ASCII events with business intelligence they can use.”

ASCII events are the leading conferences in the channel and bring together over 1,500 IT solution providers and MSPs, innovative technology vendors, and key industry thought leaders in a two-day format. Designed for qualified Managed Service Providers, ASCII events are targeted towards those looking to increase revenue, enhance their current business model, and network with peers.

ASCII MSP Connect Live 2021 (Virtual Events):


Canada - February 24 & 25 

Rocky Mountain Region (USA) - March 17 & 18

 

ASCII Success Summits 2021 (In-Person Events): 

Bethesda, MD - May 19 & 20            

Cincinnati, OH - June 16 & 17  

Chicago, IL - July 21 & 22    

Raleigh, NC - August 18 & 19     

NY / NJ area - September 22 & 23   

Orlando, FL - October 27 & 28 

Houston, TX - November 3 & 4   

Orange County, CA - December 8 & 9 


For more information, visit www.asciievents.com and www.mspconnectlive.com.

About The ASCII Group, Inc:

The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs 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 www.ascii.com. 

###

:-)


Lori's Awesome Class is Back! Powerhouse of One: Be a Super Successful MSP

Powerhouse of One: How to Be Super Successful MSP (or Solo Entrepreneur)



Taught By: Lori Hardtke, Community Leader and Coach

- Five Tuesdays - January 12 - February 9, 2021

- 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!

"The class Lori did was simply awesome.  

I learned so much.  She is what I want to be when I grow up!"

- David Streit, Stephill Associates, LLC


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!


 Delivered by Lori Hardtke, MSP and Peer Advisor. Lori has been an MSP (managed service provider) for many years and runs a two-state business with no employees.

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

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


The Modules: 

Unit 1 Week 1 - Vendors/Affiliations/Peer Groups

Unit 2 Week 2 - Selling Services That Are Pure Profit

Unit 3 Week 3 - Sales Process for Website/VoIP/Cloud Desktops

Unit 4 Week 4 - Plans, Pricing & White Glove Services

Unit 5 Week 5 - Finances


Details and Registration at https://www.greatlittleseminar.com/course/powerhouse-of-one-be-a-super-successful-sole-proprietor/

Only $299

:-)


Monday, January 04, 2021

WOW! We really put out a lot of info in the last 30 days. You missed some of this ...

You May Have Missed This . . .

I somehow managed to post 110 posts to this blog in 2020. That's about nine per month. Many people primarily get information about what I'm up to on this blog. Others, primarily through my newsletter (sign up at https://www.smallbizthoughts.com/newsletter/), and still others via my YouTube channels.

So, no matter how you get information, you're bound to miss something. I always put a list of recent activities in my weekly newsletter. But even there, I don't cover every little thing.


Here are some recent Mentions by Others and appearances on various forums in the last month.


Paul Green's Growth Guide. You can see it here: https://mspgrowthguide.com/

- Hard to read and impossible to print. But it has lots of resources!


Paul also hosted Nigel Moore and me on his podcast. This was a great way to end the year. It started with Nigel and I in Santa Barbara in January. So it was great to close the year out with another event with Nigel. This one was interesting to record since Paul is eight hours ahead of me and eleven hours behind Nigel. A truly global podcast!

https://www.paulgreensmspmarketing.com/podcast/episode59/


Acronis sponsored an "MSP Town Hall" discussion with Amy Luby, Dave Sobel, Amy Babinchak, and Erick Simpson.

Replay here:
https://acronis.zoom.us/rec/play/6SQYAFIOTEg0BKNQovMCT9dyGB00EmrX8H8MzswyAJuAb2SqG5iu1D53oce_MMUcO_fxWUlH3iiwvkTv.qfpknaDmYLVCPCr_


Here's the stuff I produced in the last month, other than this blog.


Relax Focus Succeed Blog:

Work ON Yourself, Not Just In Yourself
https://www.relaxfocussucceed.com/2020/12/work-on-yourself-not-just-in-yourself/


SMB Community Podcast:

Common Misconceptions with Google Ads
https://www.smbcommunitypodcast.com/2020/12/common-misconceptions-with-google-ads/


Richard Tubb on Continuous Awesome Marketing
https://www.smbcommunitypodcast.com/2020/12/richard-tubb-on-continuous-awesome-marketing/


New Book: Tech Up or Lose Out
https://www.smbcommunitypodcast.com/2020/12/new-book-tech-up-or-lose-out/


How to Effectively Communicate Your Brand Story to Generate Leads
https://www.smbcommunitypodcast.com/2020/12/how-to-effectively-communicate-your-brand-story-to-generate-leads/


Manuel Palachuk and the “IT Confidential”
https://www.smbcommunitypodcast.com/2020/12/manuel-palachuk-and-the-it-confidential/


The Killing IT Podcast:

Episode 92 – End-of-Year show: 2020
https://killingit.smallbizthoughts.com/2020/12/episode-92-end-of-year-show-2020/


Episode 91: AI Doppelgangers, Google Outage, and Vaccine Apps
https://killingit.smallbizthoughts.com/2020/12/episode-91-ai-doppelgangers-google-outage-and-vaccine-apps/


Episode 90 – Pandemic Burnout; Modern Data Centers; Uber and Out
https://killingit.smallbizthoughts.com/2020/12/episode-90-pandemic-burnout-modern-data-centers-uber-and-out/


Episode 89 – Fighting Inequality with AI, Cheap Energy, and “Edge” Opportunities
https://killingit.smallbizthoughts.com/2020/12/episode-89-fighting-inequality-with-ai-cheap-energy-and-edge-opportunities/


Episode 88 – Robo-job Apocalypse Delayed; NATO Publications; and Facebook Algorithm
https://killingit.smallbizthoughts.com/2020/12/episode-88-robo-job-apocalypse-delayed-nato-publications-and-facebook-algorithm/



Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community:

January Roundtable: The Hard Truth about Success
https://www.smallbizthoughts.org/january-roundtable-the-hard-truth-about-success/


Quote Me on This – The Wit and Wisdom of Coleman Cox
https://www.smallbizthoughts.org/just-added-quote-me-on-this-the-wit-and-wisdom-of-coleman-cox/


Community Confab Meetings
https://www.smallbizthoughts.org/posted-community-confab-december-3/


Year of Intention – Class Posted
https://www.smallbizthoughts.org/year-of-intention-week-1-posted/




YouTube Videos for IT

Community News - January 2021
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI3rOi3XfOQ


SOP: The 10 Most Important Rules of Backup
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZXhiR8NNJY


Convert 230 Volt European Plug to US 110 Plug
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bfct9IVcZKk


Travel Adapter Power 2021
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_8jiVCQBQ8


SOP: Firewall and Router Configurations
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QfaPufBcbk


How To Fix a Variable Resistor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoD3y6NnBFY


SOP: Labeling Equipment
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrQw49WHGv0


How to Add Chapters and Subtitles to YouTube Videos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3my9CCDUqoY


SOP: Removing a Client from Cloud Services
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqlZwnBRWiQ


Welcome to the SBT Channel!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krmsj7PYgH8


SOP: Removing a Client from Managed Service
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghe1-1hke0I


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And we'll keep pumping out new information in 2021!

If there's a topic you'd like me to cover somewhere, put a comment down below.

. . . And have a great January.

- Karlp

:-)


Sunday, January 03, 2021

Top SOP Videos for 2020

We've had a great year on YouTube!

We had just over 61,000 views - and more than 2,800 hours of total watch time. And we've added almost 600 new subscribers.

Our most popular playlist is SOPs - Standard Operating Procedures.

I always appreciate comments and questions on these videos.


#1 Video - SOP: Service Manager Roles and Responsibilities

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cUSnVZHRU4


I am actually very happy that this is the #1 video. The Service Manager role is perhaps the most important role in any IT company. In addition to being a mentor and trainer, the service manager has to be a customer relations expert, an enforcer, a strategist, and a great deal more.


#2 Video - SOP: No One Needs a Monkey Hook

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0gHl1RBoNE

A few comments suggest that people aren't happy with this message. But the bottom line is: You don't buy something because you need the thing; you buy it because what it can do for you. Your clients don't buy managed services because they need monitoring. 

Monitoring is your thing. It's what you sell. They buy security. They buy peace of mind. 


#3 Video - SOP: Vendor Management

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtJqFQfgork

This video was leading the pack for much of 2020. I think many MSPs are very interested in managing their clients' vendors - but they're not entirely sure what that means. This video gives you insight.


#4 Video - SOP: Basic Sales Script

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYnG7Ev-4PI

This is a peek into my sales process. You have to start somewhere, right?


#5 Video - SOP - Service Agreement vs Service Level Agreement

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygAs7sKGTWg

When I'm speaking and someone refers to "service level agreements," I also point out that they probably mean Service Agreements. There's a big different. And ignoring it might cost you a lot of money.



#6 Video - SOP: Front Office Responsibilities

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd1NbSqpPWw

Like the service manager roles and responsibilities, many people are interested in what they would have an office manager or administrative assistant do. Trust me, after you've had one for a few years, you won't know what to do without them!


#7 Video - SOP: Scheduling within the Service Department

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cOXlfuT0_k

I rely very heavily on a priority-based system. But when coordinating your company with your clients, you have to schedule work. I also have a strong preference for a system that allows technicians to manage themselves as much as possible. But you still need scheduling!


#8 Video - SOP: Monthly Maintenance Checklist

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPtnPfQcUrM

Perhaps the single most important thing you do in a managed service business. At some level, if you're not doing monthly preventive maintenance, it's hard to argue that you are delivering managed service. What's your list of  tasks to perform at every client, every month?


#9 Video - SOP: Client Visit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtwqXOAov0g

I'm glad that this is a popular video. I worry that too many companies have no process for a simple client visit. There are just a handful of things you need to do to guarantee success and establish your brand. 


#10 Video - SOP: Service Call Process

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psROs7mEsAk

Finally, rounding out the top ten is another "basic" but extremely important process. How you execute a service call defines you company in the client's eyes.


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Please check out my YouTube channel by clicking on any of these links. I always appreciate a thumbs-up and a subscribe. 

:-)