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.

Check-in: Kaseya

I recently had a surprisingly transparent conversation with Fred Voccola, the CEO of Kaseya. He has gained his sea legs just crossing his second work anniversary. The tone and tenor of the interview was three-fold: Hello World, No IT and Office 365.

Hello World
Voccola reached out to reinvigorate the Kaseya conversation in the SMB Nation community. To be blunt, Kaseya hasn’t been top of mind for some time at SMB Nation. It was always perceived as an expensive tool for the big Fred Voccola Kaseyaguys. But Voccola had a different explanation. A couple of years ago, Kaseya was essentially acquired by a private equity group and had “lost its way” with the MSP community. Voccola promises it has returned with partner momentum. I’ll continue to monitor the situation.

No IT

I enjoyed a spirted conversation about the transformation MSPs are undergoing in a volatile business community. Loosely translated – everything is changing and very quickly. Voccola is committed to assisting MSPs with that transition to be, in my words, business advisors. I contributed to the conversation by highlighting how the IT spend is moving away from the server room (read CIO) and to other departments such as marketing (read analytics). It’s gonna be a rodeo ride and Kaseya wants to be right there with you, the SMB Nation MSP.

Office 365
I pressed hard on Kaseya’s commitment to Office 365. It acquired some dashboard technology but I had reason to believe it was put 365 Command on the shelf. Voccola insisted that recent actions such as moving internal operations to Las Vegas wasn’t a sign that the 365 Command team had been disbanded. Rather it continues to invest in this technology area.

BTW – the Kaseya Connect conference is May 9-11. I’ll miss it as I’m already committed to the Sage Summit in Atlanta. So many conferences, so little time!

UPDATED May 10, 2017 808AM Pacifc:

Hey Harry,

I am at Kaseya Connect and I read your piece on Fred Voccola. I know it was a short blurb, but one thing that underscores the “little guy” theme is that their PSA, called BMS is full featured and a lot less expensive than most other PSAs. It integrated, of course, with the Kaseya VSA, as well as Quotewerks, IT Glue and other vendors.

Yes, Kaseya had a bad two years (had to wait for their self-inflicted foot wound to heal up), but they are doing quite well and the ecosystem is back up and functioning due to a robust API in their products.

Randall C. Spangler, MCP, CSSA

Merit Solutions

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On the Road Again – Lenovo Tech Wheels Tour

One of the jewels at the recently completed Lenovo Summit (Orlando, April 2017), hardly hidden, was the Lenovo Tech Wheels truck. It represents the initial on-the-road outreach by Lenovo to tell it’s story to the people, one truck stop at a time.

Starting this Spring, Lenovo’s Tech Wheels truck will visit partner sites, stores and events in the Southeast US LenovoTechTruckTour region (Lenovo is based in North Carolina).

If this sounds like a redo from yester year, you are partially correct. SMB Nation readers will fondly recall the Microsoft Across America tour trucks and buses before the Great Recession. Here’s the good news. The Lenovo Tech Wheels tour is bringing that excitement back. Thank you.

The Tech Wheels truck that I toured (pictured) was a first class GEEK CAVE. Here is an example of how it works. The idea is that this vehicle will pull up to the office building where you have your MSP consulting and reseller practice. The trailer then spreads its wings to create a demonstration lab showing Lenovo wares. To me the secret sauce was the presentation, just like how an upscale restaurant presents gourmet food. It’s all in the presentation and Lenovo’s Tech Wheels scores high marks here.

So what’s it all mean? The Lenovo fiscal year just started April 1st. This is a pilot program with one truck running in the current fiscal year. If successful, I would offer you can anticipate seeing additional Lenovo Tech Wheels trucks in the next fiscal year. And once it hits critical mass, it’s essentially recreated the Microsoft Across America tour – updated by about ten years. Think of this as an “event in a truck” because the desired motion an MSP would take is that customers would be invited to walk through the Lenovo Tech Wheels truck and be dazed and amazed.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this initiative as I have a personal interest in its success.

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How to write a winning job offer to attract professional freelancers and contractors

Of course you want to find the best, most qualified freelancers to do the jobs you need done. No one sets out looking for the second or third best person to work for them. But remember that the hiring process is a two-way street – potential candidates also need to want to work for you.

Make it impossible for them to resist applying for and accepting your job offer, by freelanceputting together a winning job listing, paying attention to these techniques.

Make it easy for them to find your job offer
This sounds like a no-brainer. Of course, you wouldn't willingly make it more difficult to find your job posting, but you could be doing this without even realizing it. When you're putting a heading at the top of your job posting, you may be tempted to make it stand out from the rest. While it's great to set yourself apart from the crowd, steering yourself too far away could be making you less visible. Remember that candidates are going to search for certain keywords, so you've got to include those keywords within your title. You can include those keywords in a different and creative way, but in order for your posting to show up in a relevant search, those words have got to be there.

Let the candidates filter themselves
Chances are you're going to get a lot of applications, some much more qualified than others. You shouldn't be wasting your time reading through applications of candidates who are far too under-qualified to be considered. Instead, let them take themselves out of the running, by specifying in your job posting those qualities that are non-negotiable. If an applicant sees that they don't have the qualifications you'll be looking for, they're more likely to not bother applying. You'll end up with fewer applicants overall, but the crop you'll be choosing from will be more well filtered to start with.

See who's paying attention
You want to hire someone who pays attention to detail and listens to instructions. An easy way to see if a candidate has these qualities is to include a specific instruction within your job posting. Doing this helps you determine who has taken the time to actually read through the entire posting, and then has followed through and done what they've been instructed to do. The simplest way to do this is to ask candidates to put a specific word in the subject line of their application email. Without even opening and reading their message, you'll be able to see who reads through and follows instructions.

Don't skip the editing
No matter what your deadline for posting your job offer is, editing and proofreading cannot be overlooked. Putting out a mistake-laden job posting reflects poorly on a company, and shows a level of carelessness that may turn off potential candidates. Help get rid of errors in your writing with the help of these tools:

- Paper Rater
There's no need to download anything with this free online proofreading resource. And, with a paid membership, there are so many more features to make use of.


- Polish My Writing
Get instant feedback about the content of your job posting with this checker, that will point out mistakes you've made, as well as provide you with helpful suggestions for making your content better.


- Assignment help
When you have questions about the rules of writing and grammar, Australian Help is there to help you find the answer. Letting mistakes go unnoticed may turn away the best qualified candidates, who are unlikely to miss the mistakes in your content.


- Ginger
Download Ginger to any device, so you can write, edit and post your job offers, no matter where you are. Don't let errors make their way onto your job postings, simply because you're typing on the go.


- Paperfellows
It's always ideal to have a live person checking over your writing, since they can see things a computer just isn't able to. Errors in context that are easily missed by a computer won't get past a professional proofreader from Paperfellows.


- Hemingway App
Put your content through the Hemingway App to check for readability levels, grammatical errors and suggestions for improving the quality of the writing overall.


- Academized
Plagiarism checkers from Academized can help you avoid embarrassing and potentially reputation-killing mistakes.

- Easy Word Count
Some job postings are limited to a certain word count. If you're working within restricted counts, rely on this tool to help make the most out of each and every word you can use.

- Slick Write
It's fast, it's free, and it'll help turn your good writing into great writing. Slick Write breaks down your content into different categories and aggregate infromation, so you're able to see exactly what your job posting is composed of, including detailed word count breakdowns.

- Boomessays
Don't let the all-important job of proofreading your job posting be done by anyone less than an expert. Big assignments can match you up with a professional who's perfectly suited to get your job done flawlessly.

Don't leave anyone out
If someone applies to your posting, reply. A simple acknowledgement of their application can go a long way in keeping the doors open for future opportunities. You never know what may happen down the road. Another job opportunity may arise, or your chosen candidate may not work out as planned. Establishing a good rapport with all of your candidates means you can confidently contact them in the future if you need them, and expect a positive response.
Attract the best of the best, and hire the most qualified freelancer you can find, by putting together an irresistible job offer. Using these tips and techniques, you'll bring in a higher number of quality applicants to choose from.

"Gloria Kopp is an digital marketer and a business consultant from Manville city. She graduated from the University of Wyoming and started a career of a web content writer and an educator, now she works as a tutor at Write My Essay company. She is a regular contributor to such websites as Engadget, Do my assignment, Huffington Post, and others."

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8 Success Tips for First-Time Entrepreneurs

Starting a business for the first time can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Follow these sage advice tips to keep your head above water in the beginning stages.

By: Matt Knee Founder and President of MyNewCompany.com

Starting a new business for the very first time can be intimidating. As a first-time entrepreneur, your nerves may be wracked and you’re diving into a bit of the Welcome to Entrepreneurshipunknown. The good news is that overcoming some of the challenges that come along with first-time entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding and satisfying. There is more advice for first-time entrepreneurs than there are hours in the day, so I’ve gathered some of the best I’ve heard over the years and distilled them down to the 8 best success tips for first-time entrepreneurs.

Drill down to the minimum viable product (MVP)
One of the biggest areas where first-time entrepreneurs fail is in failing to launch. They spend so much time perfecting an idea that it never actually gets off the ground or offered for sale. With an MVP, you identify the core problem people are trying to solve and build a problem around just that - no bells and whistles. If you can effectively solve the problem, you can launch and gather information and insights from customers as you go. From there, you can focus on iterating new versions of the MVP and adding on only what customers have expressed they need. It saves time, money and a lot of heartache.

2. Provide Top-Tier Customer Service
This one goes hand-in-hand with #1. An MVP should be tightly coupled with great customer service, which is where you’ll garner the most insights and provide a lot of value. You don’t need a perfect product, but you do need customer support staff available to make your customers feel valued and to address any issues that arise. People form relationships with people, not products. By making your brand shine with great people, you will have positive feelings attached to the product you sell. From there come positive reviews/testimonials and great referrals.

3. Find Great Employees
A company is only as good as the people that make it run. A bad hire can really throw a wrench in the works and make it more difficult for even the best employees to do their jobs. Do your due diligence in researching prospective hires and ensuring that they have the appropriate background and experience. Culture fit is also an important consideration. People who jive well together produce the best results because they’re happy at work. A negative employee can be like a cancer that eats away at the spirits of the rest of the team. If you make a bad hire, don’t be afraid to make tough decisions to make things right.

4. Don’t Skimp on Marketing
As a first-time entrepreneur, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of ensuring your product is perfect, that customers are happy and that business operations are running smoothly. All those are essential parts of running a successful business, but marketing is, too. You may have the best product the world has ever seen, but if the world never actually sees it, your business will fail. Whether you work with an agency or choose to do marketing in-house, it needs to exist to get your product in front of the right eyes at the right time and increase sales.

5. Keep Finances in Check
This is perhaps the #1 area where first-time entrepreneurs fail. Running a business requires money, and if you aren’t managing yours well, your business is at risk. You need to stay on top of your income and expenses to ensure that you’re not going to run out of cash. By keeping a close eye on the balance sheet, you can adjust spending as needed and keep overhead as low as possible. Being frugal isn’t a bad thing; unnecessary expenses should be avoided. Once you’ve established the business to a point where you see meaningful revenue, you can adjust spending accordingly. Until then, keep costs as low as possible and monitor what is happening with cash flow.

6. Be Open to Advice
Being a first-time entrepreneur is hard enough, but trying to do it solo can be disheartening. Whether you’re in business with a partner or going it alone, you don’t have to isolate. Talk to other entrepreneurs about your venture and be open to receiving advice. Take what you like and leave the rest behind.


7. Get Enough Sleep
It may sounds trite but getting enough sleep is extremely important for first-time entrepreneurs. Studies show that poor sleep quality is connected to reduced grey matter volume in the brain’s frontal lobe - the area that helps control executive function and working memory. In laymen’s terms? Your work quality and ability to be mentally alert suffer when you aren’t well-rested. Get the right amount of shut-eye, even if it seems like there’s no time. The trade-off for working one extra hour vs. getting an extra hour of sleep may be greater than you think.

8. Know Your Competition
Another great pitfall for first-time entrepreneurs is being so self-focused that they forget to look at who their competitors are and what they’re doing. If you haven’t already (and hopefully you have), complete market research on competitive products to establish what sets you apart. When you start doing marketing, these are the bullet points on which you’ll want to focus. Set up Google Alerts to monitor what is happening in your industry and what moves competitors are making. Keep your customers close, and your competitors closer.

Following the tips above can provide some peace-of-mind and help you elevate your new business to the next level. Before you know it, you’ll be a seasoned entrepreneur, sharing your own sage advice with people new to the game.


Matt Knee is Founder and President of MyNewCompany.com. MyNewCompany.com, started in 2001, makes starting and running a business simple, fast, and inexpensive for entrepreneurs and their advisors. They offer complete incorporation and LLC formation packages. To date, they have started over 50,000 companies in all 50 states.

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IT Tips: How Small Businesses can Maintain a Healthy Network

mall business owners have a lot of responsibility. Between daily operations and managing employees, it’s hard to imagine having time to worry about your network connect. But with so many cloud-based applications currently helping small businesses run, the health of their network remains one of the most important aspects of day-to-day functionality.

Keeping ahead of major problems can keep a business from losing out on revenue and taking a hit to their Healthy Networkreputation. But, understandably, most small businesses don’t have an IT department on hand. The fate of the network rests on the shoulders of the less technologically savvy, and sometimes, gets forgotten about until it's too late and there is already a problem.

Want to avoid issues with your network? We spoke to some IT managers to come up with five important steps you can take to protecting and troubleshooting your network.

Invest in a Network Monitoring Solution

If there’s one huge step you can take to track what’s happening on your network, this is it. Researching and investing in a monitoring solution that fits your needs will set you up for success. When you’re considering your options, you want to make sure you choose a program that provides ease of use, has the ability to grow as your company does, and a team that provides exceptional customer service. Having a team behind the program that’s willing to offer training and insight when needed is an added bonus. Don’t invest in the first program you stumble across. Ask around, do your research, and trust your gut instinct.

Develop an Escalation Plan

With a monitoring solution in place and an at-a-glance network map, you can move onto the next step in network health—the escalation plan. At this point, you need to take stock of who is going to step in when there’s a problem and start building a team of reliable employees. If you don’t have an IT team, this is incredibly important. You need to ensure you have employees at every location capable of troubleshooting or contacting the right people to start solving an issue at the first hint of a problem. You should have someone monitoring the network on a daily basis, but outside of that, know who else needs to be looped in if anything goes wrong.

Assign roles and make sure those roles are clear to everyone involved. Each person should know what they’re responsible for, who to contact in the event of an outage and how to escalate their problem. Developing contact lists that include emails and phone numbers, keeping employees informed of internet policies, and constantly adjusting your plan for company changes, are all part of keeping an escalation plan updated.

This plan is the most important aspect of a healthy network. Having a team that knows the warning signs of a problem and how to respond quickly, will ensure your company doesn’t lose any important information or businesses as a result of a network outage.

Keeping your data secure

Security is one of the major factors in network health. Businesses never get a warning before a data breach, but they can take the appropriate steps to ensure they’re keeping their information safe. Some of these steps are incredibly simple, including setting up a company firewall and setting priorities about what employees can access when they’re using your network. If you’ve assigned company mobile phones, it’s important to keep track of the applications that are being downloaded and blocking apps that come from unknown developers.

Limiting remote access for employees is another must. Working from home on their private network should be safe, but public Wi-Fi can expose your data to a host of hackers and other security issues. Don’t’ forget about updating your software. It may seem like such a small task, easy to overlook, but it’s incredibly important. Many software updates come with upgraded security features that coincide with any updates your computer or mobile phone has recently implemented. Not updating software could potentially expose your information to hackers.

Understand your Network Infrastructure

One of the key attributes of a good monitoring program is a network map. If you’re a small business with one location, this isn’t a huge driver. But if you’re a multi-location business, you need to monitor your network across all locations and understand the infrastructure you have in place. Having a network map, whether it’s designed for your monitoring program or a way of tracking your locations that you’ve developed on your own, should allow you ease of access to viewing and troubleshooting problems at any location at the click of a button. Knowing where your physical equipment is, and how your network is connected from one location to the next, can save time and energy when a problem arises.

Monitor your bandwidth and network daily

Just like consistently updating apps and changing passwords, someone on your team should be taking a look at what is happening on your network daily. This can be as simple as logging into your monitoring solution and seeing what’s happening with latency, bandwidth, and CPU. A great monitoring solution will even allow customers to set alerts, so if your bandwidth is suddenly soaring, it will send an email out to let you know.

For more in-depth networks, it also helps to set priorities for where your bandwidth can be used and for what applications. This will make you aware when one office is streaming YouTube videos or uploading and downloading major files consistently. Knowing what is happening at each one of your locations will help you define how to allocate your network and keep it from being stretched too thin.

A businesses number one priority is generating revenue. These days, we can’t do that without an internet connection. If a network goes down, it not only prevents us from providing our customers with what they need, but it impedes productivity internally. These tips can help any business, large or small, stay on top of their network and continue to keep it healthy.

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