We’re heading into the holiday season. I hope you have some time to spend with family and relax.
It’s also time to give thought to the year ahead. What are you hoping to accomplish? I’m not talking about resolutions, because studies show those fail for most people most of the time. But I do think it’s good to think about what you want to focus on in the coming year.
I learned a great exercise from blogger Chris Brogan. Each year he chooses three focus words. These single words serve as your touchstones throughout the year. You can put them up by your desk or wherever will help you think about them throughout the year. If you get distracted or are unsure about a decision, just go back to your focus words.
If you have goals or focus words, please leave a comment. We’d love to hear about them!
And if one of your goals is increasing efficiency or building value, you’re going to love today’s interview.
My guest is Nigel Moore, who owns an MSP training and consulting company called My Technology Business. Prior to that, he owned an MSP. He has a fantastic story about how he used standard operating procedures (SOPs) to move his team and client service from good to great before selling the business.
What’s Going On
[02:33] Richard and Karl are talking about an article where melting Arctic ice makes high-speed internet a reality in a remote town.
[02:53] Point Hope, Alaska, is very isolated. It only has about 700 residents, but they are getting super fast internet. The melting ice has allowed ships to drop fiber cables across the Arctic.
[03:32] These fiber cables are being used to digitally connect Europe and Asia.
[03:42] Port Hope is in a lucky place as these connections are made.
[04:22] The big picture is the Europe – Asia connection. Milliseconds can make a difference when trading stocks, so the $700 million cost is worth it.
[06:24] The new fiber opens up a lot of opportunities to sell technology services in Alaska.
[06:45] Rural locations often have problems with slow internet access.
[07:05] You do what you can as an MSP. Some clients are willing to move, but they have to access what they can the best they can.
[07:35] Richard sometimes brings a 4G card, hooks it into a wireless hub, and provides internet access to conference attendees through his phone.
[08:06] Rural internet access is a massive issue for small businesses.
[08:46] With Project Loon, Google is bringing internet access to rural areas through balloons.
[09:23] The Amazon Alexa is one of Richard and Karl’s favorite tools.
[09:33] They discuss a CNBC article about how Amazon is getting ready to bring Alexa to work.
[10:22] Is this just a voice connection or are they building something new?
[10:59] Amazon is planning to develop specific apps for business.
[11:25] We’re moving into a StarTrek-like world.
[11:42] We need certifications and security surrounding the voice systems.
[12:38] A smart fish tank left a casino vulnerable to hackers.
[12:54] IoT is insecure by default. This should keep MSPs employed for years.
[13:25] Business applications of AI and consumer technologies are making their way into the business place.
Interview with Nigel Moore: The Man of a Thousand SOPs
[16:28] Nigel started working in IT 2002 and started an MSP in 2008.
[17:02] He worked through a lot of trial and error with the business.
[17:20] Nigel wanted to remove himself from all of the decisions and really started to work on the documentation.
[17:45] After a bunch of failures, things were really starting to work.
[18:13] They had 1,100 SOPs before he sold the business.
[18:43] People see documentation as a huge job and get overwhelmed. Just start small. Nigel’s first SOP was the SOP about how to create an SOP.
[19:18] He used Toggl to track his time and see where he was getting bogged down.
[19:56] After each time audit, he documented each area that was chewing up his time.
[20:38] Five minutes every day really compounds to create surprising results.
[20:53] Nigel did most of the documentation himself in the beginning.
[21:27] People don’t get engaged if they’re not part of the solution. Nigel decided to invite his team to join the process and problem-solve together.
[22:12] After the team was involved, things really picked up.
[22:59] At any particular time, you should be following an SOP, creating an SOP, or improving an SOP. Nigel rewarded people with movie tickets to make the SOPs part of the team culture.
[23:57] It’s important to trust your team to improve and create processes.
[24:18] Focus on continuous incremental improvement.
[24:52] The E-Myth by Michael Gerber was an influence, as well as The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. Gawande’s book has great stories that kicked Nigel into the second phase where he got the team involved.
[25:55] The airplane story really resonated with Nigel.
[26:45] They used a Confluence wiki to store the SOPs and followed principles from the book Traction by Gino Wickman to organize them.
[27:14] They broke the documentation into three key areas: sales and marketing, service delivery, and finance and admin.
[28:00] With the SOPs, Nigel didn’t need to be included in every decision.
[29:06] Because of the documentation, Nigel didn’t have to be involved with the business after the sale as much as some owners do when passing over the reins.
[30:31] Parting advice: Start small and work towards continually improving over time.
Links from this episode
What’s Going On
- Melting Arctic Ice Makes High-Speed Internet a Reality in a Remote Town
- Project Loon
- Amazon Is Getting Ready to Bring Alexa to Work
- A Smart Fish Tank Left a Casino Vulnerable to Hackers
- Karl Palachuk: Small Biz Thoughts
- Karl Palachuk (Twitter)
- Richard Tubb: Tubblog
- Richard Tubb (Twitter)
- The Tech Tribe
- Nigel Moore (LinkedIn)
- Nigel Moore (Twitter)
- Toggl time-tracking tool
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
- Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
- Atlassian Confluence
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