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.

Start-Over: Beat the Back Office Blues

Start-Over: Beat the Back Office Blues

As part of our ongoing dialog about reinventing yourself, I present for your scrutiny the concept of making the last mile of your operations more efficient. So much emphasize is now placed on pre-acquisition lead generation that we’ve lost sight of improving the bottom line by improving your back office. It’s understandable. We ask a lot of MSPs to be skilled in three areas: finder, minder and grinder.

You’ll recall from my classic SMB Consulting Best Practices (2003) that finder is “get the business.” Minder is “manage the business.” And grinder is “do the work.” The idea is to pick two out of three. You can’t do three out of three as these are radically different skills. More often than not, I see MSPs fancy themselves finders and grinders. Way down the list is minder. But fear not. 

There are means and methods to improve the minder role in your MSP practice. You can consider to outsource your overall accounting function. But you probably don’t need that. A more targeted approach would be a invoicing management service called ConnectBooster. Based out of Fargo, ND (original home of Great Plains accounting software), an intrepid group of MSP entrepreneurs have been at market for a few years with the ConnectBooster billing solution. I recently spoke with the ConnectBooster team and learned that it’s reason for being historically has been to integrate into PSAs such as, you guessed it, ConnectWise. But in my briefing, it was made clear that other PSAs are also supported. ConnectBooster is essentially adding the billing function so you can collect the money. But it’s not providing a collection service (e.g. collection agency). Rather its helping you invoice faster and sooner. Fast money is good money. 
Bottom line on this back office discussion is this. Many MSPs are “starting over” in the era of cloud. Lower administrative costs and improving operations is central to your success.

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Cloud marketplaces: Can channel partners make money?


by Lynn Haber
Senior Writer

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Channel partners can take advantage of many cloud marketplace options as part of their go-to-market strategies. Here's what you need to know to get started.

As the cloud and software as a service become more mainstream and businesses become more interested in cloud technologies, curiosity about cloud marketplaces -- think of an online storefront -- isn't far behind. That's why channel firms need to learn about cloud marketplaces and how to go about doing business in a cloud marketplace.

There are a dozen or so active cloud marketplaces -- some are independent, such as app directory companies GetApp and Capterra, both acquired by Gartner in 2015, while others are vendor-specific such as Salesforce AppExchange, IBM Cloud Marketplace, Oracle Cloud Marketplace and Dell Cloud Marketplace, among others. IT distributors, such as Avnet, Ingram Micro and Tech Data Corp., for example, also boast their own cloud marketplaces that offer cloud apps from dozens of vendors.

There are two key things that partners need to know about cloud marketplaces: They come in a variety of flavors and they offer partner firms a mechanism to sell a broader portfolio of services.

Thinking about a cloud marketplace as an online storefront, it may consist of aisles of cloud services that span the cloud spectrum: SaaS, infrastructure as a service and perhaps, platform as a service. So, for example, walk down the SaaS aisle and you might see a section of productivity apps, another section with unified communication apps and another with CRM apps. Also, in this storefront are cloud services offerings that are relevant to consuming those products, i.e., professional services, migration services, tier 1 and tier 2 support or bolt-on services such as change management, among others.

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Skype for Business Book from Two O365 Nation Alums!

Skype for Business Book from Two O365 Nation Alums!

For those of you looking to start-over with Office 365, there is good news. Two independent Microsoft consultants from opposite ends of the planet came together to write the most comprehensive end user guide on Skype for Business.

Robert Crane and Greg Plum collaborated on the document, which morphed into over 200 pages of screen shots and step-by-step commentary, aimed at the segment of the market who needed it the most… the end user! They have announced the release of Getting Started with Skype for Business Online.

Robert is the principal of CIAOPS, located in Australia. He is a recognized author, speaker, and Office 365 expert. Greg is the principal of PlumUC, a unified communications practice in Newark, DE, with a focus on collaboration services and voice options for Skype for Business.

Robert and Greg first met in 2014 at Harry’s first O365 Nation Conference at the Microsoft campus in Redmond. Fast-forward 12 months and add the rebranding of Lync to Skype for Business, creating the impetus for this project.

‘We are excited to offer a complete recipe for success for Skype for Business, one of the industry’s hottest communication services,” explains Greg Plum. “Robert is a tenured author, who provided the guidance needed for my freshman writing endeavor.”

Greg and Robert have already enjoyed some early success with book sales. In addition to direct sales, Velis4, a Pennsylvania-based UC company providing PSTN voice-enablement of Office 365 and Skype for Business, gives a hardcopy of Getting Started for Skype for Business Online to every new Skype for Business customer.

Get your own copy of Getting Started with Skype for Business:


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Millions of people are still running Windows XP

By: John Zorabedian    

It’s been two years since Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, the popular operating system that’s been around since 2001 and which many people just don’t seem willing to let goWindowsXP

Microsoft did about all it could to drag XP-ers into the present with pop-up warnings urging them that they need to upgrade, and a free migration tool to help people transfer their files and settings to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

It’s not merely that Microsoft wants to get everybody onto the latest version of Windows, although it has certainly gone to great lengths recently to get people to upgrade to Windows 10, whether they want to or not.

But as we at Naked Security repeatedly warned XP users, the end of support means “zero-days forever,” because those vulnerabilities will never be patched – and XP computers are sitting ducks for cybercriminals to attack.

And yet there are still millions of XP computers connecting to the internet, where all manner of malware is waiting to pounce.

Windows XP was still running on 10.9% of all desktops as of March 2016, according to stats compiled by Net Applications.

To put that in perspective, according to Net Applications’ figures, Windows XP is still the third-most popular desktop OS, trailing only Windows 7 (51.9%) and Windows 10 (14.2%).

And there are more PCs running XP than Windows 8.1 (9.6%), and all versions of Mac OS X combined (7.8%).

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Of course millions of people are still using windows XP.Here I am sharing one of the best app to communicate with others. Get what... Read More
Monday, 20 February 2017 02:28
Of course millions of people are still using windows XP.Here I am sharing one of the best app to communicate with others. Get what... Read More
Monday, 20 February 2017 02:29
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Here are the secrets to a successful midlife career change

By: Elizabeth O'Brien
Retirement reporter

Steven Clark isn’t usually impulsive, so it wasn’t easy for him to wake up one morning and decide it would be his last day as a software engineer after 20 years.

But the stress had been mounting for years as Clark, like many successful midcareer professionals, had ended up on a management track, dealing with office politics he didn’t care for. So he quit.

“I walked away cold,” recalled Clark, now 54, of that day in 2010. “That was totally out of character.”

Clark, who now runs a financial advisory practice in Coconut Creek, Fla., made a change many dream of, ditching the cubicle to become his own boss. And experts say that for those tempted to follow him, the timing is right: Whether you want to change industries or start a business, a tightening job market — the current unemployment rate is 5.0% overall, and 3.6% for those between ages 45 to 54 — offers opportunity, they say.

“The opportunity to craft and create has never been better,” said Maggie Mistal, a life and career coach in New York City.

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That doesn’t mean it’s easy. The margin of error is slimmer for workers in their 40s and 50s, who may need to continue building retirement accounts, writing tuition checks and supporting aging parents. Because of these obligations, many midlife workers can ill afford to take big pay cuts, part-time work or internships.

“You’re at a point in life where your wages matter,” said John Challenger, CEO of job outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

MarketWatch spoke with several midlife career changers to see how they did it. Their professional backgrounds and family circumstances varied, but they all took careful, expert-approved steps that eased and guided their transitions.

Each went into business for him or herself, rather than join an established firm. This path is by no means the only one available to midlife career changers, experts say, but it does remove one obstacle to a midcareer move: having to compete for a first job in a new industry with younger workers who can afford to work for less.

Make (and pad) a financial cushion

Clark’s decision to quit was impulsive, but he made it knowing he had a substantial savings cushion. By midcareer, Clark had a six-digit savings account, which turned into seed money he used in the coming years to pay for living expenses and the coursework he needed to prepare for the certified financial planner exam he took in 2013.

Clark’s wife worked while he studied, but she made much less than the $150,000 that he was making when he quit. The couple pared expenses, slashing the amount they spent on dinners out, cutting their cable bill to basic service and canceling their home security plan. “I was home pretty much all the time anyway,” Clark said.


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