Minneapolis IT support company Tech Guru presents the third in a ten-part series called The 10 Tech Commandments of Business.
Tech Guru CEO Dan Moshe has worked with his valued clients for long enough to lay down some rules when it comes to technology and business. Last time, Dan covered Tech Commandment #2: Tech Doesn't Solve People Problems, It Exacerbates Them. This week, Dan explains why a fat wallet isn’t always necessary when it comes to improving tech for your business.
Software: Options Abound
Whether you’re looking for CRM software or a program to simplify accounting, there are likely to be several choices to solve your problem. “Sales software is some of the most expensive cloud software you can get,” says Tech Guru CEO Dan Moshe. It’s extensible – there is plenty you can do with it – but it’s very complicated. For some small businesses, high-cost options are not always a good fit. Some programs, like Salesforce, can run $125 per person per month. If your organization has simpler needs, you might find an affordable $10 program like Nutshell works better for you anyway. Don’t spend more than you need at any given stage of your business.
Hardware: Pay Extra for the Label
Computer hardware is a different story: often, you get what you pay for, and cost is relevant to quality. Certain name brands, such as Sony, IBM, and Lenovo, can (and do) charge more for the name. Like fancy designer jeans, after a certain price point, one computer is not much better than another. Sony is one example where “they have some cool-looking stuff,” says Dan, “but you pay a premium for that.” Some would argue the same for Apple products, but Dan disagrees, “I’d argue you get your money’s worth with Apple.”
Evaluate Your Specific Needs
Especially crucial before making a large financial commitment is to discern your company’s needs from all angles. To complete the new Conference & Training Center at Tech Guru’s offices, Dan was on the hunt for a flat-panel TV. “I could have easily spent $2500 to pay more for a glossy screen, 3D, and Hi-Definition.” But realistically, they just needed a basic panel to accompany training seminars. A glossy panel would have been terrible in the light-drenched room, and in the end Dan bought a TV that performed better for their needs for $1200.
Pull Back the Curtain
Technology has advanced quickly over the years, and Google now brings tech users endless services for free or cheap. Google Apps for business is an email provider for business. While some companies benefit from hosted exchange, that route costs twice as much. For Tech Guru’s offices, Google Apps is a no-brainer. “We wanted something to work on Mac and PCs, easily, with a large mailbox size, and we didn't want to maintain Microsoft Outlook anymore,” explains Dan. It costs significantly less when you look at the total cost of ownership of that software (another Commandment for another time!). “It's a better fit for us because it's faster and integrates with our apps more easily.”
Consider the True Value
Dan’s advice when it comes to cost is simple. “Don’t value something based on price. Instead, base it on your scenario and the value you can derive from the product or service.”
Tech Guru loves helping clients figure out how to get their tech needs met for the cost that fits the company's budget. Get in touch with Tech Guru today!
Check in next time when we talk about Tech Commandment #4: There are No Dumb Questions in IT.
Dan Moshe is founder and CEO of Minneapolis IT support company Tech Guru.
Sure, you have a LinkedIn profile. But are you truly tapping into what this social networking site can accomplish for your small business? It's a lot easier than you might think to maximize LinkedIn's tools and tricks to help you achieve your business objectives. "There's a stigma with LinkedIn that it's just for job seekers," says Tech Guru CEO Dan Moshe. "In reality, LinkedIn is a business tool that I put to work daily."
We asked Dan to tell us how, precisely, he uses LinkedIn. Without hesitation, here's what he rattled off:
- I like to meet people in my industry. I use it for finding mentors.
- I use LinkedIn to find great vendors. I just used it to find a company that could install accoustical panels in our new space. I wanted to work with somebody I could trust. Since I know nothing about the acoustics industry, I did a search on LinkedIn by areas of expertise.
- We recruit talent on LinkedIn. I look for people who have 'top sales performer' or 'achieved goals' in their profile, and use the LinkedIn search tool to reach out to people who will be a good fit for our company. I also look for people with lots of recommendations in their profile.
- I use it as a tool for creating strategic partnerships.
- This is a social site for business people. To that end, I look for prospective customers. I can really drill down into the number of employees, I can find the name of the CEO, and then I can ask for an introduction through mutual contacts.
- We're all busy, and logging into LinkedIn every day just isn't going to happen. But I set up email notifications so that I don't miss anything important.
- To accomplish the above, I think it's worth paying for the professional version with advanced search parameters.
As much as you use LinkedIn to search for prospects and employees, you can be sure that people are also searching for you — or at least, you want them to be. Dan offers two key tips for making the most of your LinkedIn presence.
- Fill out a full profile. Include a picture!
- Connect with people you know and trust. Don't go for volume; go for quality.
Want to learn more? Tech Guru is hosting "Tech Breakfast Learning Series: Maximizing LinkedIn" on Thursday, August 8th, from 7:30 – 9 a.m. Click here
It's no secret that Tech Guru has a habit of hiring employees who excel at customer service, and Client Relations Manager Maria Lundberg continues to wow clients every day with her knowledgeable, friendly, and efficient manner. This month, Maria, also a talented painter, put her artwork on display in Art-A-Whirl, presented by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association. The annual tour can be found in more than 70 locations throughout Northeast Minneapolis, including studio buildings, art galleries, homes, storefronts, businesses, and restaurants.
Not Just Another Pleasant Voice
In January, Tech Guru profiled Maria on the blog and traced her background in painting with oil, pastel, acrylic, and charcoal. Having amassed a collection of paintings over the years, Maria knew she was ready to take on more commissions. She also knew she needed to put herself "out there" to find clients seeking original art for their business or residence, but she was afraid to make the jump. A co-worker at Tech Guru encouraged Maria to submit to Art-a-Whirl, an annual art tour presented by Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association.
No Ifs or Buts, Just Guts
Taking part in Art-a-Whirl was just what Maria needed to get over the hump. Though she'd done other shows, such as Echo of Waves, this was her first time by herself, with no other artists. Maria found herself in a room with people looking at her work and judging it, and quickly realized, "Oh, I can do this!" Her eyes opened to the vast opportunities available to her to display her work, such as at charity events. Maria is excited about participating in another show soon.
Keeping Up the Momentum
What has she learned from the first of what will surely be many moments in the spotlight? Word of mouth is great, but a website is mandatory, and she's just learning the ropes. "A domain name? What's THAT?" she jokes. Luckily, she works with the folks who have all the answers. Maria has begin taking notes on websites of other artists, and naturally she has become inspired by their art as well. The direction of her work is shifting. "I'm going more 3D," Maria says, "I love the distressed metals and reclaimed items around the city - the patinated copper, the worn steel." She's looking forward to making more contacts as she continues to expand her collection of art.
You Know Where She Works
Could you or someone you know use a piece of commissioned art? Maria is adept at working with a client to determine the right colors, size, and style of the work so it fits beautifully into its commercial or residential setting. Contact Tech Guru for your IT needs and get in touch with Maria as well. We can't wait to see what's next for our resident artist!
Tech Guru Core Values
- We Care
- We Collaborate
- We Persist
- We Are Accountable
If you've already done business with Tech Guru, you've seen firsthand how our four core values are the touchstone for how we serve our clients. Today we're highlighting our third core value: We Persist.
Why "We Persist"
All of our core values are vitally important to the way we do business, but our unwavering commitment to persistence is truly baked into our DNA via CEO Dan Moshe. When Dan was just 14 years old, one of his teachers paid for him to attend a summer science camp where he learned how to build a computer. Dan, ever the entrepreneur, wanted to leverage that into finding a summer job. "Every single day for weeks, I rode my bike to this small IT business in town and asked if I could talk to someone about helping them people with their technology. I went again and again," Dan recalls. "Finally the service manager met with me and offered me a job starting that afternoon. It never occurred to me to not persist at getting that job. That was a huge, early lesson in the power of persistence."
Examples of "We Persist" in Action
We Keep On When Others Quit: We recently worked with a client whose web designer had gone AWOL — taking with her all of the information and access codes for renewing this client's about-to-expire domain name. This was a CPA, and it was tax season. An expired domain would be a huge nightmare. It took us a month of relentless trying, but we finally figured out how to get the domain name transferred for our client. Now this company can rest easy.
We Find a Way, No Matter What: A new client wanted to start doing email in the cloud for both cost-savings and efficiency, but they had an insufficient Internet connection. Several national Internet service providers had told this client that it simply wasn't possible to strengthen their Internet connection without spending a ridiculous amount of money. (One ISP told them it would cost $100,000!) We interceded on behalf of this client and kept asking questions till we found a reasonable, affordable solution. The "unsolvable" dilema was solved, and our client was thrilled.
What "We Persist" Means for You
Tech Guru is a partner who will partner. "This is so simple, but it's a key differentiator for us," Dan says. "We never leave our clients high and dry, and often we're saving the day when a client's previous vendors haven't been able to get the job done. There's always a solution — and we will not quit till we've found it."
On Wednesday, May 29, Tech Guru hosted a happy hour open house to celebrate with the many wonderful people who make up Tech Guru. Vendors, clients, and staff came together among Grain Belt beer and appetizers to toast nine great years of caring IT service.
The mood was summery and fun, as old friends caught up and new friends exchanged email addresses. Some highlights from the night:
- Excellent catering by Sip Coffeebar!
- A visit by one of the first Tech Guru clients!
- The slide show with photos from Tech Guru past & present
- Great conversations between current and future Tech Guru clients
- Announcment of upcoming Tech Guru learning events on Wufoo Web Forms & LinkedIn
One topic of conversation was the all-new Tech Guru Training Center. Tech Guru is excited to host a free Breakfast Learning Series every second Thursday morning for our clients on subjects such as applications, the cloud, business management, and productivity and finance tools. Take Note! The first session will be Thursday, July 11, at 7:30 AM.
Want to vote for topics that you'd like to see, and add a new topic if there's something you want to learn about that isn't listed? CLICK: and give us your feedback. If you can look away from the breathtaking view of downtown Minneapolis, we think you'll learn a lot from this series to make you more productive and give you the leading edge in business. Breakfast and coffee are provided.
Thank you to everyone who joined the party. The Tech Guru staff looks forward to more occasions to mingle with some of the best people in Minneapolis - you!
Register now to see Tech Guru founder and CEO Dan Moshe speak on the topic "Making the Best of 'Bring Your Own Device'" on Thursday, June 20, 2013, from 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. (CDT).
MAP for Nonprofits
2314 University Ave W Suite 28
Saint Paul, MN 55114
ABOUT DAN'S TOPIC OF DISCUSSION:
Have coworkers bringing their iPads to staff meetings? Receiving questions about how to get work email on your colleague's Andriod phone? The prospect of embracing the trend to allow staff to use their own mobile devices can be scary, but the slow march towards this new reality is in many ways as inevitable as accepting that staff are also active on social media.
So what's an organization to do? Attend this session, of course! Join us as speaker Dan Moshe shares his tips on how you can harness this trend to create productivity while mitigating the risk factors. An experienced IT consultant, Dan will share with us how nonprofits he's worked with have created successful policies to deal with this trend.
Dan's talk will cover important facets of this issue including how to manage devices, Apps and how you can leverage different levels of controls or user roles. His goal is to help you understand the technological terrain so you can align your own BYOD policy with your organization's mission.
What you'll take away:
- A framework for understanding the BYOD and consumerization of IT trends
- A sampling of BYOD approaches/alternatives with case studies to illustrate from other nonprofits
- Strategies and tactics you can take back to your organization
The event organizer is MAP TechWorks, a program of MAP for Nonprofits. They provide free learning opportunities for nonprofits about technology and online communications to help them unleash mission.
Services include trainings, an email listserve community, and over 300 online videos of nonprofit staff and volunteers sharing the technology solutions they've put into place for their organizations
This event is FREE, so register today
Minneapolis IT service provider Tech Guru gave Audio Research the cold, hard truth when it came to the state of the audio equipment manufacturer's technology infrastructure. Tech Guru CEO Dan Moshe and Audio Research CFO David Onan came up with a plan to bring tech coherence to David's company.
Audio Research CFO David Onan
Turn Up the Dial
The plan of attack took place over two years in several stages. First, data was backed up and protected. Next, critical weaknesses such as firewall, internet connectivity, and the disaster recovery plan were addressed. Then Audio Research moved forward replacing outdated hardware with a combination of Macs and PCs. This required Audio Research's engineering department to update some of the hardware they designed, because a policy was set to surrender any out-of-print or unsupported program software.
Cost-Effective and Quick
The key for Audio Research was its ability to work with Tech Guru on a fixed-fee basis. David explains, "It's to their advantage to make sure our system is running well. It incentivizes everyone to make sure it's smooth." The arrangement "made Tech Guru the go-to company because there's no additional cost, and we train people to call Tech Guru anytime there's a problem. Tech Guru knows the landscape when we have an issue."
Micah talks more about the Tech Guru service desk. "Anyone at a client's company can call Tech Guru as though we're their own personal IT department," he says. "Maria answers the calls, and the service desk team is able to get the client's problems resolved in a very efficient manner."
Says David, "It's rare that we experience downtime, but when we do it's very, very minor. We have a very strong relationship with Tech Guru. Micah Thor and Joe Kessler are almost like our employees or part of our team. When something comes up, they're very quick to solve our problem."
The Maintenance Plan
Every three weeks, Micah and David have a check-in conversation to address not only what is immediate for Audio Research, but also what's happening over the next quarter and the next couple of quarters. Meetings like these keep Tech Guru attuned to your company's needs, both now and in the future. How often do other clients meet with Tech Guru? "Each client is different," says Micah, "Most clients are quarterly. Some require more tech input on their strategy. They use tech more heavily. Other clients range from monthly to annually." The conversation is always about much more than technology, Micah says. "We talk about overall business strategy, revenue generation, sales and marketing efforts, HR, and finance. Where there are deficiencies and room for improvements. We talk about projects in progress and schedule upcoming projects."
Currently, Audio Research is adding an online order web-based portal, which will be hosted within the building. David says, "Micah works directly with our software developers and makes sure the hardware and software requirements are consistent." Tech Guru works with other vendors to make sure the infrastructure is able to support its operational needs. "It's not simply a matter of keeping computers up and running every day, but making sure our company is taking advantage of the productivity systems that Tech Guru offers."
Working from Anywhere
The streamlined, secure, and rock-solid tech infrastructure has afforded many Audio Research employees the freedom to lead more well-rounded lives as a result of not being tied to an office desk. David has seen the positive effect mobility has had on morale. Employees may work from home, but they're not slacking - he'll often get emails from them late at night. When children are home sick, parents can have the flexibility to be at home while doing their work. Even David, a horse enthusiast, has found himself able to respond to a business requests while away from the office. "Because of my iPad and iPhone, I'm able to get the job done from a remote location."
Have you been inspired to see your company climb to new heights? It all starts with a consultation with Tech Guru - and it's free! Request one today.
Did you miss Part One of the Audio Research case study? Click to read it.
Dan Moshe is CEO and founder of Minneapolis IT support company Tech Guru.
Think tomatoes are the only thing you should try to purchase from local sources? Kevin Krolczyk, president of Mint Roofing in Long Lake, Minnesota, would advise you to think again. When Krolczyk recently searched for help with managing his company's migration from Outlook Exchange 2003 to Google Apps for Business, finding a "locally sourced" IT provider was near the top of his priority list.
"I had been told by Google that I could handle the conversion on my own, but they also recommended a few national firms that could do everything over the Web if I 'really wanted help,'" Krolczyk recalls. "I knew from past experience that when I've got a business issue, I want a local company helping us to get through it."
Krolczyk's friend, technology consultant Joe Nemastil, suggested he call Tech Guru. "Within days of my first contact with Dan Moshe [Tech Guru's CEO], we had an initial meeting at our office," Krolczyk says. "It wasn't long into the conversation with Dan that I was sold on Tech Guru."
Would Krolczyk recommend Tech Guru to others? Absolutely.
"They're fun to work with and they get the job done," says Krolczyk. "Plus, they're local."
Bonus: Tech Guru not only gained a wonderful new client with Mint Roofing, but also learned about — and then implemented — Nutshell CRM, which Mint Roofing had been using for its flexibility and ease of use. Read Tech Guru's praise for Nutshell here.
You're the CFO of a best-in-class audio equipment company, you're at a perfunctory Chamber of Commerce breakfast, and you find yourself seated next to a guy with the answers to all your IT issues. Call it fate or coincidence, depending on your outlook. On a morning in 2010, Audio Research's David Onan spoke with Tech Guru's Micah Thor about the tech environment in David's company (or lack thereof). Who says networking events don't work?
The Lay of the Land
David, who had joined Audio Research in 2009, was ready to implement a more comprehensive technology solution that could carry the company into the next phase of development. Dan Moshe, CEO of Tech Guru, was asked to create an IT analysis of Audio Research to establish the current technology landscape. David says, "It amounted to a minor amount of money spent to identify and document weaknesses, and to make recommendations about things such as security, data protection, and productivity." The analysis also addressed the company's current IT strategy.
The technology at Audio Research was fragile, disconnected, and without competent personnel. Equipment was 5 or more years old. When the need arose for a new computer, the Director or Operations would head to Best Buy and pick up whatever was on sale. Indeed, the findings were bleak.
The IT report read, "A strategic IT plan does not exist. IT is an afterthought... haphazard... and inconsistent." Prior to partnering with Tech Guru, Audio Research's IT department "didn't exist," according to David. They had an employee who was more technologically inclined than the others who did his best to help, but when a problem occurred people were mostly found standing around wondering what to do next. The company was lucky to not have experienced a server or disk failure, David says, because "we weren't equipped to handle that."
Using the Stack
Prospects of Tech Guru love to see The Stack in action. In IT, a stack is a group of essential technology pieces that depend on each other. It's a clear-as-day and personalized presentation of what your office needs to function. Some examples are hardware, business and financial software, voice, email, and backup and disaster recovery. "The key," reminds Dan Moshe, "is that everything has to be working harmoniously. You want the apps to talk to each other, and you want your internet connection to support your apps." Dan likes to call the Tech Stack conversation "Collaborative Quoting." Just as he does with all Tech Guru clients, Dan and David talked about what an ideal stack would be for Audio Research, versus what currently existed, and the financial differences - or "gap analysis" - between the two.
Did Tech Guru find the job too daunting? Did Audio Research opt to keep things the way they were, risks and all? Keep reading the next part of the Audio Research story.
Or are you thinking about the IT analysis your company sorely needs? Schedule one now!
Dan Moshe is the founder and CEO of Tech Guru, a Minneapolis-based IT support company.
Minneapolis IT support company Tech Guru presents the second in a ten-part series called The 10 Tech Commandments of Business.
Tech Guru CEO Dan Moshe has worked with his valued clients for long enough to lay down some rules when it comes to technology and business. Last week Dan covered Tech Commandment #1: Mission First, Technology Second. This week, Dan explains why technology will only solve your company's biggest issues when used correctly.
People with Problems
Unmotivated. Sloppy. Maybe even untrustworthy.
All companies have some employees who set the bar low, but if your organization has employees who pose a threat to its growth, things won't change with a shiny new set of computer monitors. Technology isn't a bandage that will perk employees up or make them like you. Dan suggests looking at your objectives in relation to employees before deciding to make changes to the way you do business.
Is Tech the Answer?
When speaking with clients, Dan listens for what is at the heart of the issue a client is experiencing. Is it a productivity matter, accounts receivable, or other business issue? Upgrading your tech can also mean upgrading your problems, one reason Dan likes to ask, "What does success look like?"
"I want better security so my employees don't steal data."
Dan has had clients who want the freedom to work from anywhere but express fears about moving to the cloud. They believe going to the cloud means employees will gain access to data more easily and share it with others.
Clients have asked if Dan if he can prevent employees from sharing folders, or whether he can lock down computers. The answer is yes, but the only way to keep employees from stealing data is to keep them away from your computers entirely. The deeper question could be, why are you employing people you believe could cause such significant harm to your company?
"I want new CRM software because our sales have been going downhill."
Some technology can be a tool to solve problems as part of a plan. However, throwing tech at a problem is only going to cost you money and not going to make the problem go away. "That's right," says Dan, "I'm a tech person telling you that tech isn't going to solve your problems!"
If sales aren't good, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools aren't going to fix that. Neither is an upgraded version of Quicken. A CRM tool isn't going to be used by unmotivated employees. But if the CRM tool is part of a new and improved compensation system, that CAN help. If the tool helps you measure and tie compensation to number of calls made and number of sales, employees may find that they are eager to once again exceed their quotas.
Tech Doesn't Save, It Merely Helps
"I'm not saying technology is evil or bad," says Dan with a laugh, "but only when it's applied responsibly is when you get a return on your investment. I want people to get technology because it supports their objectives." Need help discerning your people problems from your business problems? Tech Guru is here for that.
Check back when we explore "Tech Commandment #3: Bigger Isn't Always Better When It Comes to Cost."