Where Will You Be in 2008?

December 31, 2007 – 11:23 am

So this is my last post of 2007.  You may find this hard to believe but what is on my heart most as I look at the white board full of 2008 changes and ideas for Tech Care Team is not our new workflow process or new pricing structure or even the overwhelming addition of a aggressive marketing plan to our business model.  No, it is you.  Really.  If you are running a small IT shop with a dream of helping small businesses succeed by managing their IT needs than I am talking to you. 

You see, that is how and why I started Tech Care Team a short 7 years ago.  I have an inner desire to see small businesses in America grow and and succeed and the only way I know how to help those hard working entrepreneurs is by helping make the geeky stuff work.  Sound familiar?  it is both a gift and a passion.  I guess I’m both a techie and a patriot.

The reason I lead the 270 member Charlotte SBS Group is to help even more small businesses succeed by helping the IT companies that serve them. 

The reason I help Microsoft as and SBSC PAL and sit on the US SBSC advisory team?  You guessed it.  To help even more of you to help your customers.

I’m not trying to sound like Mother Teresa here (trust me, I have my issues), I’m actually trying to make a point.  I see so many small IT shops that think their knowledge of technology is enough to run an IT practice off of that it really concerns me.  I see you in my SBS group meetings, I see you in the SBS Migration Chat room and read your postings on the blogs and news groups.  I want to see you make it as a successful business but I’ve some serious doubts about many of you.  Why?  As Vlad wrote yesterday, “What tends to get lost in the conversation among the many “Turn MSP Today!” pitches is that you actually have to have some business sense to advise a business on their technology spending…”.  

Its not that you don’t have the resources and help available, it is that you choose not to use them.  Seriously!  Recently I’ve heard some say that they have not chosen a managed services platform or a PSA like Autotask or Connect+Wise or even adopted a recurring revenue business model because they are running a “lifestyle business”.  What a load of crap that is!  I dare say they are not running a business but instead are working in a job or running a hobby at best.    If I asked those same people if they would like to make twice as much money next year by working smarter and not harder they would ALL say “yes” -  but they fail to realize that that is exactly the difference between running a business and running a hobby. 

I’m not going to preach any further on this topic but I will provide a few links for those of you that feel this blog is about you.  Have a great and prosperous 2008!

Become a Small Business Specialist  (keep watching this blog and you will know why this one in on the top of the list)

E-Myth - Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (DO NOT go another week running a business if you have not read this)

HTG Online Peer Groups (You are crazy if you don’t join one of these!)

SMB Summit - A MUST ATTEND EVENT if this blog was about you.

Mobilize SMB - Ready to grow?  Forget subcontractors, register today.

Great Little Book Publishing - Click and see

  1. 9 Responses to “Where Will You Be in 2008?”

  2. As someone who is making the painful transition to a PSA (yes, you have to change how you do things and keep YOURSELF accountable), I can say it is not all giggles and lollipops. Nor is it as comforting as a ice cold 2-Liter of Mountain Dew…

    Why bother, then, one-man shops all over the world may asK?

    1) BI - Business Intelligence on your business so that you can grow correctly
    2) Accountability - A PSA forces you to account for your own time. And in doing so, you get a better “feel” for where your time is going and how you need to redistribute it.
    3) Leadership - By developing your own Management Muscles, you are much better equipped to help your clients make their IT dollars count in their businesses.

    Think about it. Look at it from the potential clients’ perspective. Would you want someone that does not have the experience of managing a growing business being your trusted advisor?

    PSAs… They’re not just for your competitors any more…

    Ken Edwards

    By Ken Edwards on Dec 31, 2007

  3. A lifestyle business is not a bad thing. A business that simply creates a job for 1 person, is a really bad idea. The two need to viewed and recognized as completely seperate things. A lifestyle consultant can be an asset. A person just creating a job for themselves is a liability. The guy at SMB Nation that put this term into circulation really did a disservice to the community. Let’s not confuse them.

    Lifestyle: Sailing is the most important thing in my life. I only want to work 10 hours a week and sail the rest of the time. I want to be able to take long periods off and not worry about clients.

    Job: I’m incapable of working for anyone else and I don’t want employees either. But I still need a job to pay the bills. I’d rather work 60 hours for myself at half the pay than work 40 hours for someone else and make more money.

    By Amy B on Jan 1, 2008

  4. Mark

    Great Post my friend…

    This is why I have started a business mentoring program for Small Business Specialists. I only focus on SBSC’s, that is it. I want to help this community understand that have a business acumen is much more important that technology. Don’t get me wrong, understanding technology is important. I run a 30 employee Small Business Specialist practice in Calgary, AB and we have grown to this size in 7 years. Now, I want to give back to the community, I wish we had SBSC and Peer Groups when I started.

    If you are interested in learning more, visit my website at http://www.itsuccessmentor.com, we have monthly conference calls that are free to attend and do a bunch of cool stuff…

    Cheers

    Stuart Crawford
    Calgary, AB, Canada
    http://www.itsuccessmentor.com

    By Stuart Crawford on Jan 1, 2008

  5. Thanks for bringing this up Mark..

    I have long been accused of running one of these “hobby” businesses. I laugh it off… but I am very aware of quite a few things.. my business operates better than most of my competitors. Why is that? I believe it is because I have desired to have a relationship with my client that supersedes my desire for astronomical growth. This knowledge is what matters most to me and my clients–as I know their needs and requirements and goals, supporting them is a breeze.

    Due to this, my profit and growth year over year is acceptable to me and impressive to others. I have eliminated the the majority of “bad” clients on my books—but you know we all have the compassion for at least one!! My vendor and client relationships are strong and I encourage communication from both —it’s amazing how that helps revenue. I am definitely not saying we are wealthy or anything, but we are content. :) And believe me, in a hard market, contentment is good!!!

    Buying tools (PSAs, etc) for the sake of saying you have a tool is the problem lately.. The struggle many small shops have is –Who has time to learn and use the tool correctly?– I seem to be very busy doing my “hobby” as Mark calls it (you know-the thing that pays!!) and sometimes that tool gets in my way more than it helps. Buying a new “tool” (OK let’s say toy– that’s what it is for some, you know what I mean right—something to use just for the name?) just to introduce a new process for something that, quite honestly, worked fine already just isn’t smart for any business. It has to “fit” is all I am saying..make SURE it is a “fit”—sometimes it is just smarter to save you and your client’s money and profits. Consider this, if it costs you (meaning-no ROI-in time or money) and you aren’t using it, then get rid of it..(no charge for the tip.)

    It seems from my contacts in this “one man show” world is that most IT shop owners are worried when they ask what “tool” you are using and when they aren’t using the same tool either they worry it is not “right” OR that they need to tell you why your tool is “wrong.” I listen to them and then tell them I am glad that they are happy with what they are doing and move on..”Use what works for you” is my motto…

    I have a business degree and am also a “techie” that is certified in many areas of and ready to assist any business or community member that requires/requests it. I am a part of the “community” and try to give back. I am not an “upgrader for the sake of it” or a recommender of such..My clients appreciate the fact that when I make a recommendation of any $$ or time outlay –it is well thought out and defensible. I also try to help make it financially feasible —it is the way I operate my own business. I don’t get many “Nos” and we all pay our bills. I am slow to adopt or spend the profit of my clients and they appreciate it — What my client’s are paying for is the passion of my company to help their business to be successful in their terms. That is how I grow my company – . Employees or not.. written contracts or not.. or PSAs or not. I can do as much “work” through partnering with my community as I desire to do. Typically my clients could care less about my process, but “uptime” and “response” and “attitude” sure DO matter to them.. maybe we could find a way to teach some of that??????? As we automate–we lose that “touch.”
    In small shops, we just can’t lose sight of why we are the best at what we do and why small businesses typically use small businesses for support. There is always another tech needed in the Enterprise–go and enjoy, I have been there–not fun for me..

    I have learned it is not about volume to me but how I can respond to what I currently have and how I choose to grow it.. These things have yet to hurt my bank account or my referrals, at least in my terms. But who knows maybe having money in the bank or customers lined up is not what businesses are supposed to have—it sure is a busy “lifestyle” :)…I guess I’ll just have to continue my “hobby” until I retire early based on the money I saved by doing it the simple way—using the processes that work and not those that are the “flavor of the month”.

    I agree with Amy there is a difference… I enjoy time with my kids, family, etc.–I set it up so I get both.. not because I can’t work for someone else again, but in spite of that.. my priorities are different and my client’s don’t suffer because of that.

    I look forward to 2008 and seeing us all becoming successful in our own way—not trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. But realizing there are multiple holes to operate in and a place for us all.

    Ok I am “off my soapbox” as Mark says so often and sorry for the length-hit a nerve I guess.

    By Joel S. on Jan 3, 2008

  6. Man, some of you really read between the lines in your own way. I don’t think I ever said you have to grow your business or become a mega msp, I just want you to do what is right for your customers and provide them with the best possible service. If you happen to have a business degree or are exceptional at managing multiple issues and customer documentation without investing in tools then great. If you can run your business, make money, find time for vacations and still deliver reliable service then good for you and the blog was not intended for you. I’m afraid I did not find getting where I am that easy and wanted to share some insites that may or may not apply to you. If it touched a nerve, then I guess you need to ask yourself why.
    Mark

    By Mark on Jan 3, 2008

  7. As always Mark, your points are not only valid and insightful but invoke some sort of emotion (I guess this blog I can relate to more than others).. I appreciate those items about everything you write about –and being a close friend, I do know your passion is definitely for others — and my post doesn’t change that at all.. We both understand that all of us don’t have to operate the same. All your above resources are “must reads and must dos”.

    And to the nature of your main point– I also agree that ALL technology consultants had better either “know” or plan to learn about the business sense Vlad eluded to. If we are to be even remotely qualified to be a “trusted” advisor that will be required– no debate there from me. I know that our clients expect that from us- and knowing you–your clients do too… It truly doesn’t take a degree to help a client company to succeed–only a desire to understand where they have been and where they want to go– and isn’t it funny that doesn’t have anything to do with technology at its root.

    It is to our benefit that you have that desire for not only your clients, but our entire community. I have personally seen you open parts of your accounting to our group to make a point that recurring revenue is a possibility– and a requirement. Even for us 1 person shops.. that is some serious “giving.”

    To speak to those reading–My fear though is that many 1-3 man/woman shops are seeking a “golden bullet” fix and there just isn’t one — all my points in my other posting are to relay my experiences and drive home that point– find something that you can use and make it work for you and your business. Don’t follow the crowds–follow your MVV (Mission, Vision, and Values)- if you are reading this and don’t know what those are (shameless plug for the online peer groups) find out– NOW! Do understand that though the vendors try to understand us — their bottom line is profit — and they are baffled by the “community” at large in SMB that is a “giving” community not driven by profits in the same way.

    Mark, though you didn’t mention mega growth — our industry is just getting friendly to the small shops.. Thanks to Autotask for Go!, Mobilize for the new helpdesk, and others….

    Kudos to you for blogging to help others and drive us all to at least look at what we do — and to understand with clarity why we do it.

    We all want success but, thankfully, we all define it differently– that’s what makes us all better and stronger.

    Blog on my friend!!!!

    By Joel S. on Jan 3, 2008

  8. I attended my first Small Business Specialist Group Meeting in Columbia and met a few of you. It will take me a couple of times seeing your faces and shaking your hands before I can remember who you are. I did take a lot of things in that were said by Mark. I look forward to working with each of you guys and I hope I dont bug you too much. I was out of the industry for about five years and man did some things change.

    Before last night I had really never thought about doing anything along the managed service line. I had always been in retail as I am now. We have a store front in Florence and I just thought everyone would just find me. WRONG ANSWER, and I did not get this until I heard Mark talking last night. I even woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking, “How can I go out and sell managed services, where do I start?”, and so on and so forth.
    I do not know where to start but I am starting dog gone it. I researched all day today and I think I am on a role. I will go ahead and warn you that I am going to try and pick your brains. I hope you don’t mind. Thanks again Mark

    By scott.earp on Jan 17, 2008

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  2. Dec 31, 2007: Vlad Mazek - Vladville Blog » Blog Archive » E tu, Crallus?
  3. Dec 31, 2007: Kicking and Screaming I am Bloggin » Blog Archive » A Hobby Mark, could you let uncle SAM know please, he thinks it’s profitablea business and taxes me

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