Information Technology for Entrepreneurs: Getting the Right I.T. Support

Information Technology (I.T.) plays a critical role in every entrepreneur’s success — at every stage of business growth.

That’s why for BusinessCast Podcast # 109 — I.T. Support for Entrepreneurs, we sat down with ThinkQuick’s Michael Donovan. Michael brings a rare combination of strategic and hands-on experience solving I.T. issues — in hardware, software and systems.

Michael also has an uncanny way of getting to the crux of I.T. problems and describing them clearly without technical jargon. So, we focused on one of the most basic I.T. issues: I.T. support. In short, when should you get I.T. support? And, who should provide it?

After listening to BusinessCast Podcast # 109 — I.T. Support for Entrepreneurs you will have a much better idea of what you should do in order to find and secure the kind of  I.T. support that will keep your computers, and therefore your business, up-and-running.

BTW, here are 15 key questions you should ask when choosing your I.T. support whether that is to solve an immediate problem or to head-off issues before they interrupt your business:

1. What steps will you take to ensure that my data is safe/recovered?

2.  How are you going to diagnose my technical issue(s)?

3. What guarantee will you give me on the work that you do?

4. On what basis do you charge (i.e. hourly/per project/retainer)? Do you charge for estimates?

5. What kind of computers/software/systems have you worked on in the last 2 to 3 years?

6. How do you keep current on the latest I.T. challenges/technologies?

7.  What do you see as the single most important thing in resolving/anticipating my business’ technology issues?

8. What is your troubleshooting timetable (i.e. how often do you look for ways to avoid problems before they arise)?

9. What is your method for delivering I.T. support (i.e. on the phone, on the web, via email, via Twitter, via Instant Messenger, in person)? Can I, as a client, choose what support method I want?

10. What are your hours of operation? Do you charge differently for “off hours”? Do you charge differently based on how quickly technology issues need to be resolved?

11. Can you give me the name of three entrepreneurs that you have helped overcome similar issues or are providing ongoing support?

12. How big is your operation? On average, how many calls does each member of your Support Team handle per day? What’s the average turnaround time that I can expect before I receive a call and/or service?

13. Do you support PC/MAC/LINUX or mobile technologies like Blackberry and iPhone?

14. What’s the range of support services you offer (i.e. from individual workstations to servers and networks)?

15. Do you sell hardware/software if I need something replaced or installed? What sort of additional markup do you add on top of retail (or discount do you take off)?

You can reach our I.T. expert Michael Donovan by email at: Donovan@ThinkQuick.com.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold! All it takes is 100 words (or less) on why a Blackberry Bold will help your business. Send your note to Robert@businesscast.ca.

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Mobile Marketing for Entrepreneurs: Part 1

Mobile marketing – it’s more than those ‘short codes’ you punch in your phone to vote for your favourite Canadian Idol. Mobile search, mobile advertising, mobile payment, mobile browsing….well, you get the point.

In fact, if you have any of the newest generations of ‘smart phones’, you have in the palm of your hand a communications/business tool that will very soon dramatically change the way you market to your customers.

But how do you take full advantage of this mobile technology and all of the new marketing opportunities that it creates? To get a handle on the current/upcoming opportunities, take two simple steps:

1) Review Mobile Marketing – Part 1 – a blog post that includes a handful of very focused resources to get you comfortable with mobile marketing fundamentals;

and

2) Listen to the BusinessCast Podcast Episode #75 – Don’t Hang Up: Mobile Marketing for Entrepreneurs.

Our very special podcast guest is Michael Younder — one of the senior product marketers at Research In Motion (R.I.M.) — home of the ubiquitous Blackberry!

Michael shares entertaining stories, insights and trends about mobile marketing, product development and branding. At the same time, Michael — along with Robert and I — highlight those lessons relevant for every business entrepreneur.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Great Book Give-Away (September, 2008)

Robert and I are offering our BusinessCast podcast listeners (and blog readers) leading-edge business resources — for FREE!

Currently the BusinessCast Podcast ‘Great Book Give-Away‘ includes the following titles — mostly from the folks at McGraw Hill:

  • The Four Pillars of Profit-Driven Marketing (2009) – Leslie Moeller and Edward Landry
  • Turn Small Talk Into Big Deals (2009) – Don Gabor
  • How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships (2008) – Leil Lowndes (OUT OF STOCK)
  • Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs (2009) – Karen Berman and Joe Knight(OUT OF STOCK)
  • Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach (2009) – Linda Richardson
  • The Inspiring Leader (2009) – John Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger
  • Blogging for Fame and Fortune (2009) – Jason Rich (OUT OF STOCK)
  • Business Lessons from the Edge (2009) – Jim McCormick and Maryann Karinch
  • Smart Networking (2009) – Liz Lynch
  • The Customer Rules: The 14 Indispensable, Irrefutable and Indisputable Qualities of the Greatest Service Companies in the World (2009) – C. Britt Beemer and Robert L. Shook
  • Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies (2009) – Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (OUT OF STOCK)
  • The Extraordinary Leader (2009) – Joseph Zenger & Joseph Folkman
  • Get Content Get Customers (2009) – Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett
  • Am I the Only Sane One Working Here (2009) – Albert Bernstein
  • The Organizational Champion (2009) – Mike Thompson
  • The Purpose Linked Organization (2009) – Alaina Love and Marc Cugnon
  • Every Family’s Business (2009) – Thomas William Deans
  • Performance Intelligence at Work (2009) – Julie Bell
  • Databases: A Beginner’s Guide (2009) – Andy Oppel
  • Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications (2009) – Paul Argenti
  • Winning Sales Letters (2009) – Ralph Allora
  • PowerPoint Presentations That Sell (2009) – Adam Cooper
  • Mastering Communication at Work (2009)
  • Fearless Leadership (2009) – Loretta Malandro
  • Click: 10 Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships (2009) – George Fraser
  • Financial Statements Demystified (2009) – Bonita Kramer and Christine Johnson
  • Upstarts: How Gen Y Entrepreneurs Are Rocking the World of Business (2009) – Donna Fenn
  • Succession and the Family Business (2009) – John Geddes
  • Loops: The Seven Keys to Small Business Success (2009) – Mike Chaet and Stephen Lundin

Some of these books or so new they aren’t even available in stores yet! So, why not get a jump on your competitors by sending an email to Robert (Robert@BusinessCast.ca) to get a FREE copy of one of these business tools.

*Note: These titles are among the BusinessCast Business Book Essentials List.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Is Business Theft on the Rise?

When Robert and I raised the issue of How to Steal Your Next Customer BusinessCast podcast episode # 49 and show # 50 – we raised some eyebrows. But, the reality is that when you’re running a business, your customers are often ‘up for grabs’.

Well, we were so intrigued by the responses that these two podcast episodes generated, we’ve been conducting some research into how entrepreneurs are actively ‘stealing their next customers’.

The final stage of that research is for entrepreneurs like you to take the poll here on the BusinessCast podcast blog (see below).  We’ll crunch all the numbers and let you know the final results (in a few days).

So, here’s the business context: Do you let customer attrition or competitors poaching your customers bring your business down? Or, do you do something about it proactively?

Specifically, we want to know if you are actively pursuing specific customers (or customer segments) that you believe are being under-serviced by your competitors — thereby stealing them from your competitors:

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes