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Ever Wonder What That Hard Drive Sound Meant? December 9, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Tutorials.
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Over the years, we have probably all come to recognize the sound of a hard drive that is on its last leg but this is the first time I have ever seen the sounds of failing hard drives cataloged by manufacturer. Check it out. It could be an excellent training tool for junior technicians who cannot recognize the sound of an impending drive failure.

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New Release of SMBTN Community Toolbar December 9, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, SMBTN, Tools.
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We have made a new release of the SMBTN Community Toolbar available for download. This release includes additional tools, resources and partner programs and adds Autotask integration, messaging, and SMB podcasts from a variety of sources. The toolbar is only a week old and is already getting quite a few hits.

We are seeking feedback and suggestions about the toolbar and hope that you will find it to be a valuable resource.

Versioning Your Business December 9, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business.
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I got a bit of flack from my peers when I announced the arrival of SMBTN 2.0 at SMB Nation this year. However, what started out as an offhand remark, really sparked some interesting communications both internally and amongst the membership. Of course, my intent was simplyto  announce that we had made some major revisons to our programs, services and procedures and communicate that in a succinct manner.

Anyway, the whole situation got me thinking about the fact that versioning may actually be a good way for IT providers to  think about their business in familiar terms. All businesses go through revisions, just like software. The goal is to create a better product or service with each release that brings more profit to the bottom line and more value to your clients.  

As we head into 2009 with lots of questions about the economy and how our businesses will be effected, perhaps, now is the time to begin reflecting on what the new version of your business will look like.

  • Will you offer new features, products, services, etc?
  • Will you redesign your client interface by changing polices and procedures?
  • How will ou alter your sales and marketing efforts?
  • What markets will you go after?
  • What clients will you keep or give up?
  • How will you handle the current economic situation?

I propose that you take some time this month to design the 2009 version of your business. Put it in a place where you can see it every day and take action on it. Don’t be surprised if you end up rewriting portions of your plan. That is what interim releases are for.

In fact, you should probably consider revising your plan each month (or at least once a quarter) and giving it a new release. I plan to use OneNote for this purpose and use YYYY.MM to identify the current version of my business. For example, in January, I will check my progress on the plan I created for 2009 and revise it as version 2009.01.

The point is that versioning your business puts things in terms that you are already comfortable with and can easily relate to. Hopfully, it forces you to develop a business plan for the coming year and places you on a path of continuous improvement.

So what version is your business in today and where do you see yourself this time next year? Will you be upgrading your business to a new release, or will you still be in the same place you are now? Make a plan today to upgrade your business to a new release!

Download the SMBTN Community Toolbar! December 2, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Productivity, SMBTN, Tools.
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We continue to seek out new ways for SMBTN members to connect with each other, access SMBTN programs and resources, and make your work day just a little easier and more profitable. Our latest effort to this end is the new SMBTN Community Toolbar.

This toolbar is compatible with both Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers and includes:

  • Quick Links to SMBTN Sites, Communities and Portals
  • Google Search
  • Custom searches of the SMBTN Community and key SMB websites
  • Links to many SMBTN Partner Programs
  • Links to Technical Tools like EventID.net, DNS Reports, and MX Toolbox, as well as, key technical knowledgebases.
  • An RSS Feed Reader, prepopulated with SMB news and information
  • A chat client that permits you to communicate with any other SMBTN Member who has the toolbar installed.

This is our first release of the toolbar, so I encourage you to comment on it and its features so we can make future improvements to it. In the meantime, check it out. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Download the SMBTN Community Toolbar