SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Mobile Apps – Your Blue Ocean Recurring Revenue Opportunity

Part 1 – Charting the Waters


Recurring revenue is the life-blood for IT consultants and managed service providers these days. The challenge for us is to find new products and services that can be added to staples like network management and Office 365, which areRecurring Revenue logo the low-hanging fruit that we have already adopted. The conundrum we face is that new solutions typically require a significant commitment of time and money in order to learn how to implement, manage and sell them while generating an acceptable return on that investment as quickly as possible. As a result, inaction and procrastination hold us back when we should be proactively expanding our solution stacks.


One area that has not been fully explored is mobility. Although we may deploy mobile devices – tablets, notebooks and phones – for our clients, it is easy to construe the devices to be solutions when they are merely tools. The power of mobility actually resides in the ability to connect people to the information that they want and need wherever and whenever they need it. Studies by comScore have shown that nearly two-thirds of all digital media access is now done through mobile devices. Furthermore, the bulk of that access occurs through smartphone mobile apps.


Given the prominent role that smartphones play in connecting people to information, it follows that many of our clients have businesses that can benefit by making it possible for their customers to connect with them via their mobile devices. This opens the doors for us to enter the mobile app market on behalf of our clients, but few if any of us are able to become app developers.


In Part 2 of this series, we will take a look at the things that have been holding us back from adopting a mobile app practice and what can be done to overcome them.

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Harrybbb’s Recommended Reading for 1Q2017

I wanted to share a few recommended readings for you to consider with the start of 2017. Why? Because it’s essential you are always in life learner mode as a technology professional. You want your medical doctor to read the latest journals, right?Books to read

I’ve scoured the Office 365 community for content that can add value to your professional journey. Here are my findings.

HOW TO PROFIT FROM SELLING OFFICE 365

Just the other day, I posted a provocative statement on my personal Facebook page. I asked everyone to take an oath that “I will not work for free in 2017” as a response to some of my own experiences and that of others last year. Loosely translated, it means I’ll only do things that make money in my professional realm. Someone I respect even extended that thinking to include his sentiment that he’ll only commit to a day long workshop if it will help him make money. Fair enough.

So the “HOW TO PROFIT FROM SELLING OFFICE 365” book that I’m recommend hits the nail on the head. This thoughtfully written guide hits a major issue in our MSP community head-on: how to make money with Office 365. There is a lot of context to this observation. Some SMB Nation members are still smarting from the perceived lost profits now that the server-side, Big Iron era has passed. And while its unlikely we’ll “make servers great again” in 2017, it’s time to navigate the “new-new” of profiting from Office 365. Specifically this recommended guide will let you discover how to package, market and sell your Office 365 offers. Granted I see this as a foundational part of the cloud money maker pathway but it’s a not the entire answer. That said, don’t be a monkey and follow the money by downloading the guide HERE.

 

MAKING OFFICE 365 A ONE-STOP-SHOP FOR EMAIL RECORDS COMPLIANCE
I’ve been involved in more conversations lately about returns to specialization and riches in niches as a 2017 strategy for MSPs. We’re basically talking verticalization and it doesn’t have to be a geography or economic sector. Instead it can be a specific skill area. Such is the case with this white paper concerning email records compliance.

This whitepaper offers organizations planning a migration to the Cloud a 'considerations roadmap' for migrating their legacy email records. It also provides guidance on the critical aspects of sustaining the integrity and value of your legacy email records as they are migrated to Microsoft Office 365.

Key insights include:

10 things to consider as you migrate legacy email records to Office 365
Moving journals into the new Office 365 model
How Microsoft replaces the journal in Office 365
Enhanced eDiscovery in Office 365

Additionally this paper is positioned as an advisory piece for all key stakeholders that should be involved in a migration project. That is, not just the IT team, but also the legal department, records managers, business leaders and advocates acting on behalf of users.

If the shoe fits, download this whitepaper HERE.

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Startup: Network Engineer

Granted many of the SMB Nation readers are experienced IT Pros. But one layer below, many MSPs have a rising star. Typically a “newbie,” this individual is being eyed for bigger things. Which gets me to my point. Chip Reaves of Bigger Brains and I teamed up with Emily Wilson a just over a year ago to create the Networking Essentials: CompTIA Network Plus Exam Prep course. I proudly consider this the 20th publication I’ve been an author or co-author of (full list here).

chipreaves

It is my belief that this courseware is suited for the “newbie” mentioned above. However, even hot shots can benefit from revisiting the fundamentals of networking. Think of it this way. One of my annual New Year’s Resolutions is to re-read a book (albeit I might speed read it). And I always remember something I forgot and learn something new.

So here is the offer. Chip recently engaged with new distribution channels for this courseware. With high honor, I share with you that “Networking Essentials: CompTIA Network Plus Exam Prep” course can now be purchased at Udemy for a significant discount (68% discount. Consider purchasing this to support Chip’s efforts and perhaps give it away as a gift. Maybe be a Secret Santa!

So what is the courseware all about?
Description: Network Essentials is designed to give an experienced Level 1 tech a good foundation in networking technologies, both for real world benefits and to pass the newest CompTIA Network Plus certification (Exam N10-006).
Lecture: 63 modules
Length: 12.5 hours
And it even includes a certificate of completion.

Purchase HERE. Your support is greatly appreciated! (Thank you!)

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Cyber Monday Startup

It goes without saying that Cyber Monday, November 28, 2016, has grown dramatically from its modest start 12-years ago. It’s a media mainstay and you are encouraged to track it’s performance on sites like ChannelAdvisor. But that’s not why I’m here with this blog. Rather I want to impart insights into a startup with a twist launching on Cyber Monday. The Portland, OR startup is called Truece and it has a new twist on an old problem. (See below for a special offer for SMB Nation members - editor)

Cyber Monday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The issue is the divorce and how it plays out. Why share this story? Two reasons. First is that the SMB Nation membership is 95% male in the 45-year old age range. Statistics show that many divorces occur in this age range. And while I’m not suggesting you should run out and get divorced, it’s likely you know someone who is getting divorced and could benefit from the use of Truece (more on that in a moment). The second is that this is a technology startup and as you know – we have used 2016 to profile and embrace startups as the new-new for you to consider as we pivot our technology practices.

Truece is an application that facilitates communication between parents. It’s a way to record conversations and avoid the confusion of “he said, she said” during the heat of battle. Think of it as a way to reduce the impact on kids.

The Cyber Monday launch of Truece can be framed up this way. With the donated time and energy of 20 dedicated professionals, Truece has built a product and laid the groundwork for a company that will truly make a difference. It’s made great progress, but is asking for your help. Whether you’re a parent in a custody situation where Truece could help, or if you know someone who could use some extra support…please sign up as a Truece ambassador. Word of mouth is the best method, and we know you know people.

What do you get for signing up? You’ll be the first to hear about product updates and discounts, and most importantly when Truece will be available for download. If all goes well, Truece should be ready to onboard its first customers in early 2017. Sign-up here.

PS - Special Offer for SMB Nation! Truece has created an exclusive offer that is a 75% discount here.

 

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Start-ups Fueled by Young-ins!


There is no age discrimination in the entrepreneurship community. It’s a line of reasoning that cuts both ways. You can be a 50+ year old white collar tech exec who is “yes sir-ed” through the back door in the tech community StevenAldrichbecause of ageism but still have credibility as a start-up entrepreneur. Likewise, you can be a millennial in the new gig economy who embraces start-ups. It’s a big tent and there is room for all.

Recently GoDaddy released an extensive study on how millennials are fueling entrepreneurial growth.


The end of the story is that young people don’t know what they don’t know and that is an asset in taking the start-up plunge. Contrast that with my friend, a sales rep at a Big Pharma company, who is 55YO and risk adverse. Combine that innocence with a “gig economy” view and you have what GoDaddy calls a new entrepreneurial era where 1-in-3 millennial professionals intend to pursue their own ventures in the next ten years. And that plays very well into GoDaddy’s SOHO and SMB focus of delivering light weight IT solutions such as web pages, domain registration and Office 365 subscriptions.

I spoke with GoDaddy’s Chief Product Office Steven Aldrich, pictured, recently about is new study and here is what I learned.


Fueled by technology that has made entrepreneurship easier than ever, a strong desire for autonomy, and start-up role models such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the two book-end generations of global workers – Millennials and Baby Boomers – are driving a huge spike in the number of professionals looking to create their own business or be self-employed, according to a new global survey commissioned by GoDaddy.

The research found that 36 percent of people plan to either start a small business or be self-employed within the next 10 years. This is especially true of Millennials, with 50 percent saying they plan to be entrepreneurial during the same time period. In fact, 24 percent of Millennials started their current business while they were still in school. That makes them six times more likely to pursue entrepreneurship as a career than their Baby Boomer counterparts were in the 1960s and 1970s.

“We’re entering a Golden Age for entrepreneurs across the world. The combination of accessible technology, cultural acceptance of startups, and the desire for more flexibility in our lives, is causing people to pursue their true career passions at a rate never seen before in history,” said GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving. “The sheer volume of emerging entrepreneurs speaks to a fundamental shift in our society toward ownership and controlling one’s fate.”

Conducted by Morar Consulting and Vrge Analytics, the research surveyed 7,291 professionals, including 2,707 current small business owners or self-employed individuals, in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Singapore, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Technology Eliminates Jobs, Creates Growth
Workers say technology empowers. 81 percent of those surveyed said that technology made starting a business easier, and more than half (56 percent) prefer the “do it yourself” model for handling their tech needs. 58 percent said websites and social media are the most attractive channels to customers. As more people have become comfortable with new technology (cloud, social media, mobile) this decade, they are applying it to their entrepreneur ambitions.

Respondents are also aware that technology can put pressure on their jobs, leading to a potential reduction of hours and layoffs. The loss of jobs is a contributing factor leading many workers to take the small business plunge: 18 percent of small business owners said they started their venture after losing their job. 30 percent of respondents said the introduction of new technologies over the last 3-5 years has negatively reduced their work hours.

Avoiding the Corporate 9-to-5
The survey found that autonomy is the #1 driver to become an entrepreneur. People want the ability to work when they want, where they want, and how they want. Flexibility (41 percent) trumped money (17 percent) and not worrying about corporate layoffs (17 percent) by a wide margin.

Overall, the global research painted a picture of our oldest and youngest generations of workers looking to seize the initiative and control their destiny:
· 36 percent of professionals plan to either start a small business or be self-employed over the next 10 years. Including those who plan to moonlight with full-time jobs, that number jumps to an eye-opening 45 percent.
· Millennials are taking the plunge and starting new ventures at a pace never seen before, with 50 percent indicating they intend to start a new business or become self-employed in the coming decade. In the United States alone, that means 37.7 million new entrepreneurs in the workforce.
· Baby Boomers aren’t planning to stop working in their Golden Years — 21 percent plan to start their own venture within the next 10 years. In the United States, that equates to more than 15.7 million new entrepreneurs.
· 13 percent of Millennials said they were laid off because of new technologies. 36 percent of Millennials said the introduction of new technologies reduced their work hours.
· 7 percent of Baby Boomers said they were laid off because of new technologies. 25 percent of Baby Boomers said the introduction of new technologies reduced their work hours.
· Many would-be entrepreneurs in the United States point to their parents (39 percent) and Mark Zuckerberg (27 percent). But Zuckerberg (40 percent) clearly tops parents (30%) among Millennials. Just over one percent looked up to socialite Kim Kardashian’s method of building a brand.
· Entrepreneurs demonstrate a no-fear attitude. 59 percent of entrepreneurs would try again if their current venture failed. They say grit and determination (76 percent) are more important than having a great idea (53 percent).
· Presidential candidates take note: In the U.S., 60 percent want government to do more to promote small business and entrepreneurs vs. 24 percent who say government should stay out of business all together

The global survey of 7,291 respondents was conducted from August 11-August 21, 2016 in eleven countries.

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