Thursday, December 30, 2021

Jim Pelley Joins the SBT Roundtable January 6th - Add Humor and Creativity to Your Success Model

Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community Roundtable

Members-Only Event

January 6th - 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern

Find out more

Jim Pelley is Director of Laughter Works Seminars. A professional speaker for the past 34 years, he has taught people how to put more humor and creativity in their lives to become more creative, more productive, and less stressed!  

Jim has left them laughing at more than 2,972 organizations worldwide, including: Intel, American Express, Pepsi, Chevron, Walt Disney Company, Motorola, Ritz Carlton Hotels, … not to mention the Casket and Funeral Supply Association of America.  

Prior to starting Laughter Works Jim was a contributing writer for the original Saturday Night Live Show, and while at California State University, Sacramento, he developed a Graduate Level course entitled “The Role of Humor in Communication.” 

Find out more.

Members - Join Us!

Not a member? Join us. Then join us for the Roundtable!

Non-members may attend this special event for only $1,099 (price goes to $1,199 on January 1st). Registration includes one year of membership in the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community.


The Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community Roundtable
is produced every month on the first Thursday. 

We bring in special guests, often from outside the technology community, to share new perspectives on business, creativity, and being successful.

We ask folks to go "off their script" and leave the PowerPoints behind. We have an open discussion about how they find success in a world that is always changing.

Some members tell us this is their favorite part of the SBT Technology Community. Join us. (Really)


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

My 13th Annual "State of the Nation" Address is January 12th

Karl's 13th Annual State of the Nation Address for SMB IT

Mark your calendar now and don't miss this once-a-year webinar. This will be my 13th Annual "State of the Nation" address for small business technology providers.

Wednesday, January 12th

9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern

Register in advance for this webinar:

Don't worry - No Politics Here! Also, no selling.

No cost. Just register and tune in.

Paste that date into your calendar so you don't forget!

Topics Include:

  • Highlights and low-lights from 2021
  • Technology Updates 2021 . . . and what's next
  • The Economy
  • Speculations about 2022
  • How to Guarantee Future Success

2021 was another strange year, but pretty good for many IT providers. 2022 looks pretty good as well, although with a bit of inflation. As always, I'm going to spend the year committed to helping IT service providers build successful businesses that look to the future of technology and guarantee their success moving forward.

Tune in to learn more!

The world of technology always brings change. In 2021, it also brought regulation, skyrocketing insurance rates, and a new membership association dedicated to the independent IT Service Provider. As the world finally begins to open up after the pandemic, the world we go back to is not the one we left.

I believe 2022 will be a year of great opportunities and change. 

Tune in to learn more!

Karl's 13th Annual State of the Nation Address for SMB IT

January 12th

9:00 AM Pacific

Register Now

This webinar will be recorded and you'll be able to view at

- - - - -

This is always a very popular webinar - but don't worry. I have 500 seats available and and will buy more if we need them.

One of the things I've learned is that there's about a 50% drop-off rate when things are free. If registration reaches 1,000, I'll buy the extra seats.

Plan to log in early, though, to guarantee your seat.

See you then.


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Do Yourself a Favor - Join the Community and Save - Amazing Deal

Huge new benefits.

Price goes up January 1st - but you can lock in at the current price for life


Please take a second to read this. I promise to keep it short.


Now is the best time to join the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community ever! Here's why:

  • Our rates go up January 1st. If you join now, you lock in your rate for life

  • Don't be confused by the word "Community." Membership includes ALL of my books, checklists, training, and more. Plus a great community. 

  • Beginning immediately, ALL members receive ALL of the 5-week trainings at no additional charge. This is a savings of about $6,000. 

  • We're about to launch a massive new Professional Certification program and Community members save 50% on all exams! 

  • We hold great weekly Zoom meetings of all Community members. So if you do want a community, we're here for you.

Please Take a Minute Explore My Technology Community

Join Now - Lock in Savings

Take a look and join today!

Download Value: $27,000 . . . and Growing!

Questions? Send me an email - karlp at


Monday, December 13, 2021

The ASCII Group Awards Solutions Granted the Coveted 2021 ASCII Cup

 From ASCII . . .

Bethesda, Maryland – December 13, 2021 -- The ASCII Group, a membership-based community of independent North American MSPs, MSSPs and Solution Providers, is pleased to announce the winners of its annual ASCII Cup, with awards given to the ASCII Cup winner and Top 10 Vendors of 2021. This year, the Cup and awards were presented at the ASCII Success Summit on December 9 in Anaheim, California.

The awards are presented each fall to technology companies that have demonstrated channel goodwill and are dedicated to helping ASCII members grow their IT businesses. The winners are voted upon by ASCII members at regional events. 

At each ASCII Success Summit attendees vote for the vendors in 12 different categories: Best Overall Presentation; Best Partner Incentives; Best Education; Best Keynote Presentation; Most Innovative Solution; Best Market Opportunity; Best Partner Involvement; Best Rapid Pitch; Best Channel Program; Best Revenue Generator; Best Partner Support; Best in Show.

The winners at each event are selected based on the total number of votes by the MSPs and solution providers in attendance; at the end of the year, the winner of The ASCII Cup is determined by tabulating the results of all submitted ballots. 

The ASCII Group is pleased to honor the award recipients of this year's ASCII Cup:

The 2021 ASCII Cup Vendor of the Year – Solutions Granted

First Runner-Up – Pax8

3rd Place – ThreatLocker 

4th Place – Nerdio

5th Place – Datto

6th Place – Mailprotector

7th Place – Huntress

8th Place – Acronis

9th Place – Zomentum

10th Place – CaaB

“On behalf of The ASCII Group and its community, we would like to extend congratulations to Solutions Granted on winning the 2021 ASCII Cup. We also wish to recognize the Top 10 Vendors, and all of the companies that participated at our Success Summits this year. We are appreciative of the value that all of our sponsors bring to ASCII membership, and we commend their commitment to deliver state-of-the-art channel-focused solutions,” said Jessie Devine, Director of Channel Development at The ASCII Group.

Photos of the ASCII Cup celebration will be made available on The ASCII Group and The ASCII Cup Facebook pages.

For more information, please visit

About The ASCII Group, Inc:

The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs and Solution Providers. The Group has 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 to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit


Thursday, December 09, 2021

The ASCII Group Collaborates with Amazon Business to Offer New Benefits to its MSP Members

Press Release from The ASCII Group . . .

The ASCII Group Collaborates with Amazon Business to Offer New Benefits to its MSP Members

Bethesda, Maryland – December 9, 2021 – The ASCII Group is pleased to announce a new collaboration to provide its Managed Service Provider members in the United States with direct access to hundreds of millions of items on Amazon Business, such as IT hardware and associated business products. 

The ASCII Group is a large membership-based community of independent MSPs, MSSPs and Solution Providers. The collaboration was officially announced at ASCII’s IT Success Summit in California. ASCII members can leverage Amazon Business as a comprehensive destination to access a wide range of products across categories that cater to their various needs, while potentially receiving additional cost benefits. This program will allow members to see shared business lists of frequently purchased items by ASCII’s participating MSPs.  

MSPs play a pivotal role in maintaining the infrastructure of businesses, and that role has become even more pronounced because of the pandemic and the necessity for secure remote working capabilities. With this growing reality of cyberattacks, MSPs have become key to the overall health of businesses in the United States. The access to Amazon Business will help equip them in that part of their mission because it gives them immediate access to essential computer equipment and key business items. With Amazon’s operational efficiencies, quick access to such items is indispensable for ASCII’s IT business owners. 

“We are thrilled to begin this crucial relationship with Amazon Business,” said Alan Weinberger, Chairman & CEO, The ASCII Group. “This collaboration is a pivotal moment within our community and the IT Channel, whereby ASCII’s vision comes full circle in terms of enabling our membership network to increase their profitability, business success, and to better serve their clients.”

“We’re excited to be working with The ASCII Group,” said Matt Roemer, senior manager at Amazon Business. “With recent supply chain challenges and the evolution of virtual work, making online procurement easier for customers of all sizes and industries is among our top priorities, and one we share with ASCII.”

The ASCII Amazon Business Network initiative is live on ASCII’s member portal and is available in the US only. 

To learn more about becoming a member of The ASCII Group and taking part in this program, please visit

About The ASCII Group, Inc:

The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs and Solution Providers. The Group has 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 to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit


Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Killing IT Live Returns January 19th - Register Now!

Ryan Morris, Dave Sobel, Karl Palachuk

Killing IT LIVE Returns January 19th

One of the hottest podcasts for IT professionals is going LIVE again in January.

January 19, 2022

9am Pacific

Register Now

We've moved to the Zoom platform for a much-improved viewer experience. 

Get on the list now so you don't miss it.

Register now and don't miss it!

No editing. No second takes. Join hosts Dave Sobel, Ryan Morris, and Karl Palachuk for this special live event. You’ll see behind the curtains as we prep and produce a live show. 

PLUS, we’ll stick around and answer questions so YOU can be part of the show as well.

We normally do three segments. But on this LIVE event, we'll record a 4th bonus segment exclusively for Killing IT Live!

A Big thanks to Cisco for making this possible!

It's free.


Friday, December 03, 2021

Congratulations to Vince and Amy - SBT Community Award Winners

We had a GREAT Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community Roundup meeting on Thursday. Our special "Roundup" meetings are held the first Thursday of every month for members only. We produce events that you won't find anywhere else in the IT Community.

We kicked off the December meeting with two big awards.

Our Member of the Year for 2021 is Vince Gerasolo of Da Vinci Networks, Toronto.

Vince has attended almost every weekly member meeting since we introduced them in March 2020. In 2021, he spent several months running his business from Italy and trying out a four-day work with his company.

All along the way, Vince kept us all informed on how the "experiment" is going. (It's going well, and still ongoing.) Last month, Vince wrote up his Four-Day Work Week Policy and contributed it to the Community. Of course we're planning to dig into it with the members.

On top of all that, Vince has helped out several members who needed assistance with their business.

Overall, Vince is exactly what you look for in Member of the Year. Congratulations, Vince!

Our Community Leader of the Year for 2021 is Amy Babinchak of Third Tier.

Amy has been a community leader in the SMB IT space for a couple decades. And we are blessed that she has given our organization some of the energy she brings to everything she does.

Amy attends most of our weekly meetings, offers great education to all of our members, and is a true font of wisdom for our group.

In addition to owning Harbor Computer Services in Royal Oak, MI, she runs Third Tier and is a partner in Sell My MSP. On top of all that, she's the President of the Board of  the National Society of IT Service Providers. NSITSP is in its "founding" stage and requires a great deal of time.

So it's no exaggeration that we are honored to have her give us so much of her time. Again, exactly what you would look for in a  Community Leader of  the Year. Congratulations, Amy!

The Program

Our special guest on the SBT Roundup was Paul Draper - A mentalist and anthropologist who put on a really great, entertaining, and educational program.

At Paul's request, the program was not recorded. So I guess we'll have to have him back at some point.

After the delightful magic/mentalism program, Paul talked about his experience training large IT companies about cybersecurity from and anthropologist's perspective using magic. We also discussed how he transitioned his business from live-only to Zoom-only during the pandemic.

And when Paul departed after an hour, the rest of us stayed for another hour.

The bottom line is: If you missed it, you missed a GREAT meeting.

But don't worry: You can join us and never miss another meeting. The Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community give you a great community, plus ALL of my books, classes, checklists, roadmaps, and other materials for an amazingly low price. 

But please note: The Price Goes Up January 1st!

If you join today, you can lock in the price of $1,099/year (or $119/month) forever.

Check out all the details at at

We are 100% dedicated to your success!


Monday, November 29, 2021

If Your Chat Bot Sucks, You Suck

Like it or not, "chat bots" are the future. But you need to manage them just like employees!

There are several kinds of chat bots. The most basic are just pop-ups on the web site that allow someone to start a conversation that is handed off to a real human. You've probably experienced a version of this at the drive-through window. "Welcome to Cousin Larry's Pretty Good Chicken Place. I'll take your order when you're ready." Then, when you start talking, you realized it's a different voice. The first was automated; the second is live.

In that situation, I doubt that many people are irritated or feel put out. The key to success with that kind of system is: There has to be a smooth transition from bot to human.

As we get ready for 2022, most people are not automatically irritated by chat bots. We start with the bot. Then we get handed to a real human. Sometimes, our problem is handled along the way. 

You might also have a chat bot on the phone. These are more expensive and require a more sophisticated AI (artificial intelligence). Here, you might add some personality and even a bit of quirkiness to fit your brand. Again, more money.

The most important thing to remember is pretty simple: A chat bot should enhance the customer experience, not detract from it

Consider your own experiences. I'm sure you've had experiences where the bot got you exactly what you need. But we're early in the bot era, so there's usually a handoff to a human at some point. The bot needs to do its job and then get out of the way. Again, the hand-off needs to be smooth.

I recently had a very frustrating exchange with a customer service email chain at my medical provider. The responses might have been humans with horrible customer service training, or they might have been chat bots pretending to be human. Either way, my experience was not good. 

When a bot goes bad, it gives absurd and inappropriate information or advice. It is out of synch with the client's needs and mood.

Remember this critical rule about customer service: When a client initiates contact, they are probably already frustrated, at least a little. They need something. You can (or might) provide whatever they need. So if your chat bot takes them down the path to inappropriate questions or recommendations, there has to be a way for the client to quickly make a smooth transition to a human.

If a client feels increased frustration while dealing with your automated service, that reflects very poorly on your company! And you get ZERO points for blaming your bad customer service on the bot you created/bought/programmed to provide that service. 

The most important thing clients need to feel at this moment is being heard. Did the IT consultant hear my complaint? Do they know what I need? Am I going to be taken care of? If your chat bot can accomplish all that, you're in great shape. But right now, chances are good that you bot needs to focus on that smooth transition to a human.

Do not assume your expensive chat bot is working effectively! In fact, assume it is not. Your clients will automatically be more frustrated with your bot than with you, especially in times of stress. So, implement slowly, and get lots of feedback. Take that feedback seriously. 

You've also had this experience somewhere along the line: The chat bot made you feed un-welcome and un-important. You felt that someone did not value your business. So you dropped the communication and went somewhere else.

A "bad" chat bot will cost your clients. A good one might automate your systems and help you solve a few problems before engaging people. But, ultimately, you are still in a people business. So figure out how to use chat bots to increase the human connection.

If your chat bot sucks, and that's your primary interface to a client, you will lose clients and prospects pretty quickly. If a chat bot works well, it will make people feel valuable and welcome. Then, your human team can help clients with a solid, positive connection.

Feedback welcome, of course.


Friday, November 19, 2021

Paul Draper - A Spectacular End of Year Roundtable - December 2nd

Note: This roundtable will *not* be recorded as requested by Paul – you’ll want to join us live!

The December SBT Roundtable will be a spectacular holiday party!

For this month’s Roundtable, we’re happy to welcome Anthropologist and Mentalist, Paul Draper!

December 2nd at 9:00 AM Pacific. 

The regular member Zoom link is in your dashboard.

Paul is an anthropologist and organizational expert. He has taught at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and served as a master lecturer at Yale University.

For seven years, he represented the Casino Floor and Marketing Department for Sands Corporation at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

He has recently consulted for Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, and in Florida, he has acted as a consultant for Martin Memorial Health Systems, Orlando Healthcare Systems, Tallahassee Healthcare Systems, and for Lee Health in Fort Myers.

In addition to his multiple TEDx talks, Paul has been featured as an expert on the History Channel, A&E, and the Hallmark Channel.

The Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community presents a special Roundtable each month, on the first Thursday of the month. We ask our special guest to leave the PowerPoint at home and help us to have a business-level discussion you can't find anywhere else.

All SBT Roundtables are members-only.

Not a member? No problem!

Join today - and you can join us December 2nd!

Your timing is perfect: Community Membership Prices Go Up January 1st! Join now and you lock in the lower rate for life.

More details at


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

A Very Productive Year for CompTIA's Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity!

No kidding: Bookmark this post so you can find it and come back to download these resources as needed.

I am honored to sit on the Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Executive Committee for CompTIA. And I want to give a HUGE shout-out to Yvette Steele, perhaps one of the greatest cat-herders of all time. She organized us, worked in the background, and helped inspire us. She's a huge part of the success of thing community. We are one of the largest, and easily the fastest-growing CompTIA community!

You can check out the Community here:

Here are some of the highlights of what this community has produced this year along. These are great resources. That's why I recommend you bookmark this post and return to it. If you employ people, you'll honestly find these to be great resources.

Diversity contributes to creativity, profit, and and success. But how do you actually apply that in the real world with a small business? That's exactly the approach we looked at. And here are some great resources for you to pursue.

(Thank, Yvette, for the survey that gave me the fodder for this post.)

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI)


I know that's a lot! But that's the point: I am honored to work with a group that has accomplished so much this year. And I know the year's not over with, but if you're trying to hire in the final six  weeks of 2021, then the tips here might just help you recruit some amazing new talent that your old hiring process missed.


Grab This Client-Facing Sample Cybersecurity Training PPT

Grab this resource at

I did a paid client-facing cybersecurity training for office workers in November 2021. So I figured, as long as I'm at it, I'll update the sample training for YOU, the IT Service Provider.

Everyone is welcome to:
  • View the training exactly as I presented on Zoom. See
  • Download the source PowerPoint Slides
  • Remove my graphics and customize the PPT for your company and your clients
Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community Members also receive:
  • Client-Facing Cybersecurity Questionnaire for 2022 in Word doc format (great for beginning both the education and the discussion about security in the 2020's).
  • Client-Facing Data Handling Guide. This is a table you can help clients fill out to educate their employees about which files can be copied to which locations (cloud drive, email, personal drop box, etc.).

ATTENTION: Copy This Client-Facing Security Presentation For Your Business
Educate Your Client about Security Threats and Crypto-Viruses.

Client-Facing Best Practices for Safe Computing

Webinar Speaker: Karl W. Palachuk – Author, speaker, podcaster, and coach. This is a recording of a live client-facing presentation from November 2021. Includes client questions.

This is being made available for use by all IT professionals as a place to start. This is just one sample of IT training, focused on a non-technical audience. It may not be a perfect fit for your business or your clients.

If you want the source files for the handouts and sample Data Handling Guide, those are available only inside the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community at

Comments and questions welcome here.


5-Week Class - Service Agreements for SMB Consultants - Starts November 23rd

Class Starts November 23rd: 

Service Agreements for SMB Consultant - Applying the Book

All About Service Agreements for I.T. Consultants

Next Offering:

- Five Tuesdays - November 23 - December 21, 2021 

- Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

Updated Class for 2021!

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.

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.

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

Note: Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community Members receive huge discounts. Get your code inside the Community.


Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Finish the Year Off Right - Join Me At the SMB Roadshow Las Vegas - December 14th

Registration is Now Open for the SMB Roadshow in Las Vegas !!!



Las Vegas

Courtyard by Marriott Hotel - Las Vegas

December 14, 2021

1-5pm, local time

Mission Control we are ready to blast off!

Please join us for a great LIVE event.

I am posting this notice because we have officially locked down the meeting room, signed the paperwork, and bought the airfare. 

In other words: We are 100% ready to blast off in Vegas.

More information and registration at:

This event is four hours of great content, networking, and education . . . followed by a beerfest. The price is only $399 for the first attendee. But you can save $100 right now in Early Registration.

Our theme this year is all about the Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery. We'll start with some networking and then a fun and educational Game Show I designed just for this event.

After that the agenda includes:

  • Running Successfully in the 2020's
  • Post-Pandemic Clientele and Offerings
  • Building YOUR Absolutely Unbreakable Rules
  • Looking Forward to the next normal

(and, of course, a trip to the pub)

We all have rules we use to help us be successful in life and in business. I've spelled out some of my most important rules and then we'll help you down the road to codifying the rules that have made YOU successful.

As always, we have plenty of handouts and time for Q&A.

Join us and take your business to the next level.

Note: Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community members get in Free of Charge with the code posted inside the Community. Members, get your code here:

Not a member? No problem! Join today and save big on this roadshow, all of our 5-week classes, and thousands of dollars worth of other benefits.

We've been off the road too long. PLEASE join us live in Las Vegas for a great event.

Your satisfaction is always guaranteed.


Sunday, October 24, 2021

NSITSP Membership Meeting November 17th

The National Society of IT Service Providers has scheduled a general membership meeting for November 17th. Everyone is welcome, whether you’re a Professional member or not.

November 17, 2021

9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern

Register Here

The preliminary agenda includes formally introducing the Board of Directors and the Committee Chairs. 

We’ll give an update on where we are in the “launch” phase of the organization, and the activities we’re working on.

Of course we will have time for member questions and general discussion.

Plan on about ninety (90) minutes, although we’ve scheduled a full two hours in case there are lots of questions or the discussion is just going strong. We realize this is a large commitment, and we want to make sure you can take a break and get to the next meeting on time.

If you have suggestions, please post a comment here or in the forums. Thank you for your continued interest!

NSITSP Membership Meeting

November 17, 2021

9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern


Please Follow NSITSP on Social Media

NSITSP Social Media

We have created pages or accounts on the following social media. These will be used to broadcast news and get the word out. Please take a minute to follow each of these and share them with your friends and contacts.

Facebook Page:

LinkedIn Page:


And, of course, you can always find the NSITSP home page at

NOW is a great time to do this.

Thank you.

- Karl


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Forget HIPAA - Client Information Portability and Accountability is on the Horizon

I'm sure you've heard the famous line from T.S. Eliot's poem, The Hollow Men:

"This is the way the world ends
 Not with a bang but a whimper."

Well I'm here to tell you that sometimes major changes with profound effects also start with a whimper, or perhaps a whisper too easily ignored.

Great changes are coming to our industry. Not bad things, but big things. Things that will make it a little more difficult to operate. Things that will make your tools more expensive and your operations a bit more bureaucratic. What are these major changes?

Quite simply, we are quietly entering an era of data transparency and accountability that hasn't existed before. Which data? All the meta data and supporting system data that's used to monitor, update, access, backup, and secure your client's information.

This data includes everything client-related in your PSA and RMM tools. For example, the entire configuration of how you manage clients. Alert level settings. IP address information. Successful and unsuccessful checks. Logs of everything that happens inside your RMM tool.

The whisper came in one of the CISA documents I blogged about recently: "Risk Considerations for Managed Service Provider Customers." See*

That document gives some very specific advice to your clients, including advice to require an MSP to provide . . .

  • "Direct access to security logging information, network intrusion detection, and anomaly analysis data telemetry from all systems managed by the MSP that support the service being procured"


  • "The ability for the customer organization to examine the systems that directly and indirectly support the contracted service on-demand by the customer organization with appropriate data handling considerations."

As I pointed out earlier, I don't know of any tools that currently exist in the SMB space that make this reporting and access possible. But if your RMM vendor isn't working to create this kind of reporting, you may find yourself looking for a new vendor.

Within about five years, I predict that MSPs will be reporting "data telemetry" to their clients on a regular basis. This will include a standard list of what you monitor, how frequently you monitor it, who has access to your dashboards, how one client's data is securely separated from other clients' data, etc.

All of this information has to exist somewhere inside your RMM or other tools. But you probably don't have access to it. That's why I call it meta data: It exists in support of the services you provide, but you don't have any way to back it up, print it out, or show it to clients (or government agencies) that ask for it. It's simply the bits and bytes that make the tools do what they do.

On a somewhat unrelated note . . .

I had a chat with a MSP owner last week who had a startling realization about her RMM, which I won't name. One of her employees accidentally applied a filter to a dashboard. So, when the owner logged in, she only saw her own company and two clients. Everyone else was GONE - or so it seemed.

She panicked. "How will I recreate every piece of monitoring, scripting, and reporting for every client?" She soon discovered that this was a filtering issue - but not before her brain went scurrying off to settle the question. She contacted the RMM vendor and was told:

"Sorry, you're out of luck."

All that information is somewhere in the cloud, controlled and monitored by the RMM vendor. But it's not backed up in a way that could actually be restored for one client or one MSP. In other words: You need to back up all that configuration information by hand.

She didn't give up. This can't be true. There has to be a way to access the settings for MY business, MY clients, and MY contracted data services. The response was only a tiny bit alarming: The only way to do that is to have an on-premise server. That way, you've got your SQL database. And however difficult it might be to get the data out, it will be on YOUR backup of YOUR database.

A-hem. Except . . . if I'm correct, ALL the recent "supply chain" ransomware attacks have involved on-premise servers and not cloud services!!! So how do I back up the client-related data in a cloud environment?

You can't.

You simply can't.

We don't make that available to MSPs.

You just have to trust us.

THIS, my friends, is going to change. Whether they like it or not, RMM vendors will have to make these reports, this data, and these configurations available to you (and your clients) in the next few years. And, in a less cumbersome challenge, PSA vendors will as well.

Ultimately, we as an industry will be asked to address a very important question: Who owns the data involved in monitoring and managing a client's network? Is it the RMM vendor? The MSP? The client? The answer matters!

If the RMM vendor owns this data, then what do they owe the MSP or end user? What reports are reasonable? If there's a ransomware attack or other cybersecurity attack, what should the MSP or their client expect? Like it or not, you should be able to document this information.

If the MSP owns this data, what reports do they owe to the end users? Should this information flow on a regular basis or just when there's an incident? (BTW, I fully acknowledge that clients will ignore 97% of this information until there's a cybersecurity attack.)

But if the MSP owns this information, it should be downloaded, separated by client, and backed up. For how long? You need to add this to your general data retention policies. Some things we keep for three years; some for seven; some forever. Where does client monitoring telemetry fit in the big data retention picture?

If the end-user client owns the data, then the picture changes considerably. If the client owns the data, they should be able to take their "monitoring profile" to another MSP and get equal (or very similar) service based on the devices being monitored, the thresholds for alerts, the automated responses or scripts being run, and the reports being generated.

NONE of this is possible today. Even at the enterprise level, I don't think this kind of data portability exists. But once someone (e.g., CISA) lays the groundwork for expectations, I think you'll see these kinds of requirements finding their way into to requests-for-quotes.

Perhaps the closest analogy for most of us is HIPAA - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In this case, maybe it becomes CIPA or Client Information Portability and Accountability. If someone has a better term, I'm open to it. 

What data, or meta data, should be made available to clients with regard to the monitoring and management services you provide? Aside from merely making useless information available, what USEFUL information should be made available? Ultimately, there should be some standardized reporting made available to law enforcement and insurance inspectors after a cybersecurity incident.

What can a client reasonably expect? Again: I fully acknowledge that most clients won't care. But more and more, their insurance company will care. What actually-useful information can you provide to clients who dutifully pay their bill every month and expect your to just take care of their network?

. . .

I almost started this post with an apology. I'm sorry I have to write this post. And I'm sorry you need to read it. But you need to read it.

The details will be worked out a bit at a time. But, in the big picture, I think this is the world you can look forward to. Luckily, this is an evolving world. And that means you can join in the conversation and help mold the future as it emerges.

PLEASE leave comments and questions. I'm happy to respond.

-- -- --

* I previously blogged about the document itself ( and some things you should be doing right now in response to this (


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

5-week class - Financial Processes for the IT Services Firm – Starts October 19th

Financial Processes for the IT Services Firm – 5W07

Taught By: Rayanne Buchianico

Five Tuesdays

October 19 - November 16 - Register Now

All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

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

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

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

Topics for this class include:

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

. . . and More!

Week One: Introduction to Your Company’s Finances

Week Two: Cash Flow Forecasting

Week Three: Margins, Ratios, KPIs, and Breakeven points

Week Four: Jobs, Budgeting, and Internal Controls

Week Five: Planning for Taxes

-- -- --

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

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

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

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

Only $299.00 

Register: Financial Processes for the I.T. Services Firm

Friday, October 08, 2021

BIG Changes Coming to Our 2022 Training Program

Thousands of you have already taken classes over at Great Little Seminar since 2013. Thank You!

Now we have some major changes coming.

We are re-branding and doing a major upgrade to our training program for 2022. 

We now have twenty classes we are rotating through. We offer ten "live" classes per year - which means we have two years worth of classes! And we are adding at least two new classes in 2022. Maybe four.

See our current site/offerings at

Here are the classes we currently offer:

  • Core Standard Operating Procedures for IT Providers
  • Project Management 
  • Financial Processes for the I.T. Services Firm
  • The Most Important Checklists for Any I.T. Service Provider
  • Managed Services in a Month
  • Managing Your Service Board – Setup, Core SOPs, and Daily Procedures
  • The Unbreakable Rules of PSA
  • Make the Most of QuickBooks Desktop in an IT Service Business
  • Building Appointment Setting 
  • Automate Your Accounting with QuickBooks Online and Integrated Apps
  • Service Agreements for IT Pros
  • Cloud Services in a Month 
  • Powerhouse of One: Be a Super Successful Sole Proprietor
  • Position Your IT Firm for Growth or Sale
  • The Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery
  • Business Strategy Made Easy – Your Ultimate Success Hack
  • MSP Professional Sales Training Program
  • Optimize Your Social Media Marketing and Advertising
  • Deep Dive Into Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn
  • Super-Charge Your Social Media Marketing

See details at

We're adding a class on Customer Service for MSPs and ITSPs in 2022.

But here's the important sneak peek: We are adding a certification program endorsed by me and the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community brand. Tracks will include service delivery, financial processes, front office, management, and Sales and Marketing.

PLUS, we'll have a special certification just for service managers!

We'll have certification exams, of course. The "practice" questions for these will be added to the online classes that align with the exams. 

The really good news: If you've already taken one of our classes in the last two years, you can re-take the class for FREE, and access all the practice questions.

So, for example, if you've taken the class on Managed Services in a Month, you can re-take it (live or self-paced) and get all the practice questions. You'll still need to register for and take the actual exam, but it should be pretty straight forward.

More details to come.

The Best News of All . . .

If you are an annual subscriber to the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community, you can take ALL of our classes at no additional charge. So, rather than buying twenty classes at $299 (that's $5,980), you pay only $1,099 for the year!

NOTE: The annual membership price goes up to $1,199 on January first. It's still an amazing deal. But you can save that extra hundred dollars by joining now.

Visit the SBT Technology Community at

In addition to all these great classes, you'll get access to all my books, checklists, and training materials - plus weekly membership meetings.

If you're looking for a great resource for your business, start here:


Exclusive content: Killing IT LIVE - October 20th

Join us for Killing IT LIVE!

That’s right – One of the hottest podcasts for IT professionals is going LIVE!

October 20th at 9am Pacific

Get on the list now so you don't miss it.

Register now and don't miss it!

Karl Palachuk, Dave Sobel, Ryan Morris

No editing. No second takes.

Join hosts Dave Sobel, Ryan Morris, and Karl Palachuk for this special live event.

You’ll see behind the curtains as we prep and produce a live show. 

PLUS, we’ll stick around and answer questions so YOU can be part of the show as well.

We normally do three segments. But on this LIVE event, we'll record a 4th bonus segment exclusively for Killing IT Live!

A Big thanks to Cisco for making this possible!

It's free.


Saturday, October 02, 2021

Join us for Killing IT LIVE! - October 20th

 Join us LIVE online October 20th!!!

The Killing IT Podcast has been going for more than 130 episodes - and we are grateful for all of your support and feedback.

Here's what we're up to:

  • A LIVE version of our show.
  • You'll see a little bit of the "prep" work we do (such as it is)
  • We'll record FOUR topics. Normally, we air three topics. This means attendees will will get a bonus extra topic not available anywhere else.
  • And we'll stick around for questions and general networking afterward.

Your cost: FREE!

All you have to do is wander over to and register. We'll remind you on the day and time. Then come back October 20th at 9:00 AM Pacific for the live event.

October 20th
9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern

-- -- --

In case you're new to the Killing IT Podcast, it's a weekly 30-minute podcast featuring SMB IT thought leaders Dave Sobel, Ryan Morris, and Karl Palachuk.

We generally cover three topics - about ten minutes each. We are honored to get a few thousand downloads per week. We'd love to have your join us. Search for The Killing It Podcast on Apple, Android, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Or just start listening here: Killing IT on Stitcher.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Three Things You Should Do in Response to the CISA Documents

CISA is giving advice about MSPs. Here are three things you should do about it.

A few days ago I blogged about the advice CISA* is giving to your clients. Today I want point out some action steps you should take in response to these documents.

That blog post is here -

The document you need to read is: Risk Considerations for Managed Service Provider Customers.**

I know many people are tempted to say that they don't have to pay attention if their clients are not going to read it. Not true. I consider this primary document and the related documents to be a peek into the future.

And since you can peek into the future of your business for free, I think you should. Here are some specific items I think you should pay attention to.

First, your company's financial health and well-being matter. I know that sounds obvious, but this is going to become a publicly-discussed element of a sound business relationship.

The CISA advice to your clients is to request documentation of your financial health AND performance records based on the service provided to other clients. There are no specifics of what that looks like, but a one-page note from your accountant is probably a good place to start.

In my white paper on transforming an industry into a profession, the first pillar I call out is financial security. You need a good, sound business model in order to have a sound future. Your clients have a right to know whether you're a "going concern" or losing money. See

In the original blog post on this topic, I mentioned that advice from the CISA document will slowly work its way into usage. I can pretty much guarantee that's the case with financial health.  This is "low fruit" and will become a checkbox on checklists that will emerge for hiring an MSP.

Today, you can ask for a quick note from your accountant. In fact, you can write it and ask them to put it on their stationary and sign it. That will probably be good for a year or two. We'll see after that.

Second, as my mother used to say, Watch Your Language! I have long advocated that we avoid casually referring to contracts or service agreements as Service Level Agreements. The CISA document uses SLAs accurately: It encourages your clients to get a refund if you do not meet your SLA targets.

I highly encourage you (and always have) to avoid using the term SLA unless you have a formula for giving clients their money back when you have unscheduled downtime. Many people (hundreds, perhaps thousands) have argued with me about this over the years.

SLA means something. You cannot get away with saying, "Well that's not what we mean. And our clients understand what we mean." These words exist outside your informal agreements. And when this advice trickles down from big business to small business, the government's (accurate) use of the phrase will dominate.

As a reminder, people also say that they use the term "All you can eat" and are sure that everyone understands that it doesn't actually mean all you can eat. I won't repeat that diatribe here for the 1,000th time.

So, watch your language. Words mean things.

Third, create some client data documentation to cover the basics of the CISA concerns. If you prepare these documents, you can actually bundle them together in a zip file or printed onboarding package with other documents.

The goal here is to address some legitimate concerns and pre-empt the need to create these docs on the fly because you didn't expect someone to ask for them. This might also be a nice differentiator for the next year or so.

Here are four examples of documents/checklists you should prepare, as recommended by the CISA advice to your prospects:

- Data Management. This document could start with your Privacy Policy statement on how you manage data. In particular, CISA encourages businesses to ask you how you will manage their data, how it will be separated from other client data, and how you secure their data.

- Vetting employees and securing clients' intellectual property. This starts with having employees sign non-disclosure agreements regarding your company and your clients. You should be doing this already. But now you should define that process for your clients and prospects.

- Document your incident response. This is particularly useful for ransomware attacks, but is also useful in any disaster (fire, flood, etc.). The CISA document encourages prospects to inspect all monitoring systems, intrusion detection logs, and "data telemetry" from monitoring systems. 

That's simply not possible with most systems. Luckily, clients won't ask for this in SMB . . . today. But if it happens in the mid-market, the standard tools for SMB IT consultants will someday include the ability to give clients this access. Heads up.

- Document each client's backup. This is another one you should already be doing. The CISA document specifically calls out the request for an air-gapped backup. In my opinion, that's not being done by most SMB systems, especially cloud-based and BDR systems. As the advice of CISA propagates, the term air-gapped backup will find its way into your clients' vocabulary.

The bottom line: Act Now. Don't Respond Later.

Managed service - in fact, all modern tech support - puts a heavy emphasis on preventive maintenance. Consider this the preventive maintenance of your company's business well-being.

Yes, it takes some work. The the items outlined here are mostly common sense and "best practices." The exception is the client's ability to look into your monitoring systems and logs. That issue - transparency - is in its infancy. But get used to it. Five years from now it will be old news.

Once again, my advice is to take action now so you're not responding to a new reality in an urgent environment. This is a case where you really can see the future.

And if you haven't done so already, please join us over at the National Society of IT Service Providers. We're looking at these things and preparing to take a stand on legislation that's inevitably coming down the road. Check us out at


*CISA is the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. See

** Risk Considerations for Managed Service Provider Customers. See


Monday, September 20, 2021

The ASCII Group Announces the Formation of MSP Security Committee

I received this press release from my friends over at ASCII . . .

The ASCII Group Announces the Formation of MSP Security Committee

Bethesda, Maryland – September 20, 2021 – The ASCII Group, a membership-based community of independent North American MSPs, VARs and Solution Providers, today announced the formation of its MSP Security Committee. The goal of the recently established Committee is to advise fellow ASCII members on a framework that MSPs can utilize to protect their business interests and that of their clients.

To start, the committee is publicly releasing initial guidance as it relates to what MSPs need to consider when vetting potential technical solutions ( Based on the objectives of this committee, all future guidance and resources will be provided openly to members within The ASCII Group community.

“With the security landscape rapidly changing, the formation of this Committee will help MSPs reduce their overall operational risk with the development of independent, best practices,” said Jerry Koutavas, President, The ASCII Group.

ASCII’s mission is to deliver to its members an environment where knowledge sharing and information exchange is ubiquitous. This initiative grew out of requests from the ASCII community at large given the ever-changing risks the industry faces as it pertains to security. The Committee will be comprised of 12 Managed Service Providers (MSPs) representing a variety of disciplines and markets throughout North America.

Please visit for more information on ASCII’s MSP IT community.

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 


Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Government is Telling Your Clients How to Select an MSP

The Government is Telling Your Clients How to Select an MSP


It's not all bad news. In fact, some things just fall into the category of, "It's done. Now, what you're going to do about it?" Here's what I mean.

The U.S. government has published a detailed nine-page report on how to find a good MSP. They've also published hundreds of pages of related advice, which could send some of your prospects down a major rabbit hole. There's nothing you can do about that.

But "that" isn't all bad news. You get to decide how to use this to focus your marketing and your sales approach.

Let's back up and look at the big, big picture.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has published a number of documents directly related to you and your clients. Start Here:

The specific document in question is, Risk Considerations for Managed Service Provider Customers. See (Published September 2021)

First thing to note: Your clients won't read this. Well, your small clients won't read this, and 90% of your medium-sized clients won't read this. How can I say that?

The document is filled with jargon. It's also filled with advice that makes clear that whoever wrote it has never worked in the SMB market. Example: The first "best practice" for small businesses is to establish "a supply chain risk council that includes executives from across the organization."

Second, the document assumes that keeping IT support and security support in-house is a reasonable option. It's not. If a business owner is balancing overall cost and security, there's no way the in-house option can win.

An in-house employee who is actually competent and up to date with network infrastructure, cloud services, and security cannot be had for under $60,000 plus tax and benefits in the US. So let's round that to about $75,000 all in. 

I'll bet (because I already know) that almost none of your clients are paying are paying you $75,000 per year for the labor component of managed services. With luck you have one or two. But not a lot of $75K+ clients.

So, thankfully, even if your clients found this document, they would see that the advice is not meant for them. Or - as is often the case - they will hand it to you and ask your opinion. 

But you cannot ignore this document or the larger efforts of CISA. These documents (an incomplete list is below) WILL be used by mid-market and enterprise organization. And they will be used by government agencies at all levels.

This matters for several reasons. First, the folks who will use these documents for guidance have large budgets. They can afford top notch hardware, software, and services. If they need a committee to determine the size of technology committee sizes, they'll just create one.

Second, and more importantly, it is extremely likely that these documents will influence future regulation and legislation. Once in use by larger businesses and government agencies of all sizes, they will become the "emerging norm" for choosing IT service providers and MSPs.

On top of that, the longer these docs are out there being referenced, the more they begin to affect actual standards.

Governments and larger organizations have a lot in common. Very often, decisions are made so someone can avoid being seen in the light of day. It's not that they're doing anything wrong. But avoiding controversy is associated with keeping your job. Implementing a government-approved standard feels safe.

Bottom Line: Don't Panic

Be aware that this is real and it's happening.

Download these docs. Read the one covering advice to your clients on hiring an MSP. At least browse through the rest.

And if you haven't done so already, please join us over at the National Society of IT Service Providers. We're looking at these things and preparing to take a stand on legislation that's inevitably coming down the road.

-- -- --

Other CISA publications worth your time:


Comments and feedback welcome.


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Ignore Your Competition - Part 3: The Power of Differentiation

Ignore Your Competition

The previous posts in this series are here:

Part 1 -

and here:

Part 2 -

Part 3: The Power of Differentiation

There are a handful of things we do in business that people simply assume they must do. For many people, analyzing the competition is on that list. But I encourage you to ask WHY. Why would you analyze your competition? What do you have to gain from it? 

The only general reason I can think of is so you can be more like them. And that only makes sense if they are doing significantly better than you. At last, we might have a legit reason to spend energy on the competition rather than your clients. 

But wait. If someone's doing so much better than you that you want to emulate them, don't you already know what to do? After all, they've got a great marketing process, a great sales process, great products and services, great employees, and a killer cloud offering. Right? 

So what you need to do is make sure you've got all those things. 

But please note: You don't want to be just like them. That path leads to only one place - being second best to the company you're trying to copy. In other words, you'll be a bad copy of them. Not quite as good. Not quite as successful. Not quite as profitable.

Let's take a step back. Remember, there are no secrets in success. Everyone knows what they need to do. And that means that you know what you need to do. Now you just need to go do it. Copying your competition won't help.

Ultimately, you have to find something different to do. I don't mean an alternative to cloud services, security, and strategic planning. If you're in the IT business, that's essentially the job. I mean finding a different way to Be You in this industry.

What makes you stand out? 

Please don't give me the easy BS that everyone puts on their web site. It's not your technical prowess or your extreme customer service. Everyone says that. What is it really? What makes you you?

When I teach SOPs (standard operating procedures) or marketing, I always come back to this simple truth: Your brand is not your logo or your color scheme. Your brand is everything you do. Your brand is the way you show up to client meetings. It's your processes and procedures. It's how you invoice and how you pay your employees. It's how you execute a first client project. It's how you deliver consistency and consistently good support.

How do you do that? I'll bet you don't know. 

You have something that makes you different and got you where you are today. You need to boil that down and put it on paper. You need to focus on your brand. The process of figuring that out will require you to set aside many assumptions. Examine every single thing you do. Don't say, "It can't be our billing process." Or, "It can't be our offering." Examine everything.

Hidden somewhere among all your processes and procedures, there's a golden nugget. What is it that truly, honestly, makes your company different? Put your energy into finding that. You will probably get a lot of help from your clients. After all, they can see what makes you different more clearly than you can.

In all of this, I encourage you to be completely open. Tell everyone what you're up to. You want to find what makes you different so you can take that out in the marketplace and find more people who want to do business your way.

And here's an interesting twist: Don't worry that your competition will copy you. First, no one's paying attention to you. Sorry for the ego stomp. But it's true. Second, your competition will not copy you. They're too busy and they're not following you either.

So relax and go figure out who you are.

I know you've heard many presentations encouraging you to find your USP - Unique selling proposition. You obviously can't be unique if you copy someone else. You are unique simply because you ARE unique. The real job is defining it and declaring it. 

The job is not to BE unique (your already are). The job is to find your uniqueness so you can build your marketing around it. You've probably read a lot of business histories. Whether it's Spanx, Henry Ford, or a hundred others, differentiation did not come from examining the competition. In all cases, successful business people created something that they thought was missing, or something they thought people needed. 

The new thing was rarely new technology. It was either a change that filled a void, or it was a process that delivered goods and services in a new way. On rare occasions, it was a price point. In most cases, the new thing started when someone noticed that some thing could be improved. Very often, it addressed a dissatisfaction on the part of the buyer.

A great example is CarMax. They saw that people hated car shopping because they felt like the entire industry was built around ripping off the customer and sticking them with a car they paid too much for. So they restructured the process. First, they eliminated the information gap and displayed car inspection details and the Kelly Blue Book price of every vehicle on the vehicle. Second, they eliminated all motivations for sales people to upsell the buyer. Sales people get paid per sale, no matter the dollar amount. And, third, they offered a remarkable five day, no-limit return policy. So they eliminated the fear of buyer's remorse.

In all that, CarMax didn't change much about car buying. You need to poke around. You need to test drive. You need to get financing. They couldn't change most things. But in changing a few things, they created a totally new experience for the buyer.

Unfortunately, our industry is old enough to have plenty of bad habits. I sometimes worry that clients look at us like the car industry and find too many similarities. But my clients always paid me happily because they were always well served. What do you do right and different that stands out?

That question - because it's so client-focused - is worth spending a lot of energy on.