SharePoint Guide last minute bargain

Well we are not too far away from 2009 folks. Apart from the digit change in the year my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide will also be going up in price from January 1. However, if you are quick you can still get it for the 2008 price of $239.99 from Karl Palachuk’s SMBBooks site.


Karl’s also done a blog post on the product just to let everyone know so there’ll be on excuses.


The January release is all ready to go with numerous updates for subscribers. I believe this what sets the Guide apart from other publications is the fact that it is a 12 month subscription in which you receive:


– Monthly updated documentation with regular additions.

– Over 1,000 pages of documentation covering many hard to find SharePoint topics including migration, database configuration and add-ons.

– Access to a free hosted SharePoint v3 site for testing and demonstration.

– DVD updates that not only includes all the documentation but also all the files you need to install SharePoint.

– Access to free email SharePoint support from myself.

– and more


For just the cost of a few hours work you’ll receive literally hundreds of hours that I’ve invested in this product documenting and testing everything inside. If you are working with, or plan to work with, Windows SharePoint on SBS2008 or SBS2003 then the Windows SharePoint Guide is going to save you hours of work.


So get it now for 2009 benefits at 2008 prices!

Making a good impression

I talked about a client referral system in my last blog post and have since found some things that help reinforce this. The first is not so much about a referral system but about rules for making a good impression. It provides seven practical suggestion on how to improve you chances of being remembered and regarded. One example is to respond to emails and voice mail within 24 hours.


Also linked in that document is an audio entitled Instituting a Client Appreciation Program, which is only about ten minutes long and really worth a listen. I liked the concept about how you may think that you are doing an excellent job but if you are only doing what you are paid for then that’s all you’ll be judged on. In this day and age, where finding another business to service any need is so easy you need to spend time developing a program that ensures you recognize your customers and drive them to refer you to more business.


In my experience with small businesses investments in traditional marketing like print media, email newsletters and so on don’t garner anywhere near the results of referrals. It is still worth pursuing some traditional marketing options but for my money you are much better off developing an effective client referral system as your number one marketing tool.

Poor marketing

I’ve become very aware of good referral systems after attending seminars about the topic at SMBNation. I’ve come across what I believe is a really poorly executed one.


As I have mentioned before, I am a member of a DVD library where DVD’s are sent to you on a regular basis in the mail. I feel it has a lot of benefits and is relatively cheap. Every now and again they send me these “free tickets” with the message:


Give these tickets out to your friends so they can enjoy up to 15 DVDs of their choice from our extensive movie catalogue.


What’s the problem with this you may ask, well my answer is, what’s in it for me? I don’t receive any discount, bonus or recognition for providing this offer to my friends. So the company is asking me to their marketing for them without any tangible benefit for myself.


Am I likely to oblige? I may if someone asked me specifically but I’m not going to be ACTIVELY promoting this product since I receive no benefit. It wouldn’t take much on their behalf to maybe offer me some sort of discount or prize from bringing on board new members. I don’t know if it is just me but honestly, I think most other people would feel the same.


It illustrates that even big companies get their marketing and referral system wrong. Think of all the money they must be wasting on attempt to generate new business and by leaving a simply reward off they are failing to make all the conversions they can. If you are developing a referral system, remember people must have a REASON to refer you and then they should RECEIVE some sort of personal reward. It doesn’t make sense to reward the whole business when only one individual inside a business has provided a referral does it? Why would they continue to refer you? You need to make the reward personal and memorable so it conditions their response to refer you again.


You can drive more business via referrals but to succeed, like everything else, you need to develop a system. You need to test and refine that system constantly if you ever hope for it to provide you business. If you simply hope that people will refer you to others then you chances are very slim indeed. You need to encourage people to ACTIVELY refer you, otherwise any offer is simply wasted.

Merry Christmas

I’d like to wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas and Happy new Year. Stay safe over the holidays and I hope that Santa brings you everything your heart desires.


It has been a topsy-turvey year for many people, myself included, and the future certainly appears bleaker than this time last year. Even in bad times the secret is to keep striving, keep focusing on your goals and importantly keep making the lives of others a joy. If you do then I’m sure you’ll received many more happy returns yourself. Remember, life is journey to be savoured along the way not simply a method of marking time on this earth.


I’m looking forward to Christmas with the family as well as some good reading (I have plenty of books on order from Santa). I’ll still be posting stuff up here but if you want to see what I’m reading or have on my reading list then head over to and link up with my email account ( to get my additions and reviews. Personally, I find so handy in that when I come across I book I want to read I simply add to the list on the site. Highly recommended for those out there who like to read.


To everyone who reads this blog on a regular and semi-regular basis all the best for the festive season and may all your Christmases be merry!

What a sad bunch

Here are some results from a recent AOL survey on email usage.


We have become addicted to email –

nearly half (46%) of email users said they’re hooked on email (up from just 15% last year) and 51% check their email four or more times a day (up from 45% in 2007). One in five said they check their email more than 10 times a day.

We are unable to cope with the volume –

More than one-quarter (27%) are so overwhelmed by their email that they’ve either declared “email bankruptcy,” deleting all their email messages to start anew, or they’re seriously thinking about doing so. Maybe it’s because 20% of users said they have over 300 emails in their inboxes!

We email on vacation –

More than 50% said they check their email while on vacation. It’s even higher among mobile users. Seventy-eight percent of those who have a mobile device check email while on vacation.

We email while we supposed to be sleeping –

Nearly half (41%) of mobile email users said they keep their cell phones near them when they sleep so they can hear when a new email comes in. Worse, 49% of mobile email users said they check their email every single time a new message arrives.


It seems clear to me that emails are creating real problems for most people, simply because they haven’t been taught the correct methods of dealing with them. Some simple techniques can really make big differences. I have documented some of these techniques in the following Overcoming email frustrations in Outlook 2007 and Overcoming email frustrations in Outlook 2003.


Normally, these books sell for about $35 but until January 31, 2009 I have a special deal going which you can find out about here. To take advantage of this offer please contact me directly via


Also, don’t forget we also conduct email productivity seminars in your office to help everyone become more effective with email.

Your business is not you

I received a comment on my previous post about making a business profit. By no means am I implying that you should run a business into the ground sole for a dollar but again I don’t see many people running a business for PROFIT.

Let’s go back a step and again ask what are you in business for? You need to answer this honestly for it to be worth anything. If you tell me you are in it to make money or if you are in it simply to enjoy a reasonable life then they are both admirable goals BUT they not compatible with each other. You can only do one or the other. If you tell me that you are in the business to make money and yet are not focused on improving the efficiency of your business operations then I hate to tell you that you are fooling yourself. If your business is totally dependant on you to run it day to day you are again fooling yourself. If you are simply charging for your time with no leverage and think you are running a business, you are still fooling yourself.

If you tell me that you are running a business to make money then that’s what you need to be doing everyday. You need to set goals and strategies to help you achieve that. Tell me honestly, if your goal is to make money from your business is that written down anywhere? Have you developed a documented plan on how you will achieve this? If you tell me that you have but it is all in your head, I’m sorry that isn’t good enough. Why? Show me a profitable business elsewhere that has its plans “in its head”. I think you’ll struggle to find one.

Many small business mistakenly believe that they can simply earn revenue and allow a business to grow organically over time. Mistakenly they believe that, like compound interest, the value of their business will simply grow year on year. Mistakenly they believe that at some point in the future they can sell their business for a handsome reward. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

There is a major difference between business revenue and business value. Your customers provide revenue but only you can provide value to your business. If you are simply going out every day and charging for you time and not adding value to your business where do you think it is magically going to come from? I strongly believe that there is limit on how much any business can produce selling pure service. The secret to value is product. Now that product can include service components but it has be something tangible that a customer wants to buy. Simply selling maintenance will give you short term revenue but it will not add long term value.

Your business is not you. It should be totally separate from you. It should not need you to operate. If your aim is to make money then you need to be an owner of a business not a manager or a worker in that business. All an owner does it set the business in motion and collect the rewards. If you are not moving towards being an owner everyday then don’t fool yourself that you are running a business. You instead have a very enjoyable, comfortable hobby which is perfectly fine as long as you accept the fact that you are rarely going to get rich from your hobby!

I thought I had updated

A few days ago, like many IT people worldwide, I received a distressed call from a friend about the recent Microsoft Internet Explorer issue that they had seen all over the media. What did they need to do? I told them that they had to run a Microsoft Update from their browser. Having never done this (first bad sign) I had to given them an idea of what needed to be done. They were much calmer now knowing what make then safe. After not hearing again from them after a few day I assumed all was fine.

I was actually visiting this same friend today so I thought I’d just take a look at their system to ensure that it had been updated. I was amazed to find that the machine was not up to date at all and in fact was still vulnerable. After starting the update process I quizzed my friend as to why they hadn’t updated. Their reply was “I thought I had”.

So what happened? In theory Microsoft Update is only for Microsoft to inform the user about patches that need to be applied to the system. That is UNLESS they haven’t installed Service Pack 3 for Windows XP! If that hasn’t been installed you’ll see a screen like this:

 The top option, and the one most likely to be picked by unsuspecting users like my friend, is to install Windows XP Service Pack 3 and no other updates. So what happened is my friend pushed the top button, not reading the actual instructions on the page, as non-computer people do, and merely installed Windows XP Service Pack 3 on their machine and nothing else.

Was their machine still vulnerable? Yes. Were they likely to run another update? Nope. Chalk up another win for the bad guys. This time in my books it really is an own goal on Microsoft’s part. Sure Windows XP Service Pack 3 is important but it isn’t a critical update. Being the first choice on the screen it is what most users (who aren’t computer people) are going to select in their quest to be “safe” given all the hysteria. Microsoft updates should be for critical updates only and if you are going to put a message about a Service Pack make it the second choice. Microsoft, please remember, most people have no idea about technology.

Perhaps I should have told my friend to keep running Microsoft Update until there were no more updates. Perhaps they should have read the update screen more carefully. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Yet it only takes one maybe for an attacker to compromise a system. Once they get control, your only real option is to reformat and reload, today’s malware is just too sophisticated for any cleaning tool to deal with 100% effectively. To guarantee that your system is clean after an infection the only option is a complete reload. Who wants to do that? No-one but the odds are stacked in an attackers favour. Why? You need to defend your system against EVERY threat in Windows, Office, iTunes, Acrobat and piece of software you have installed on your machine. Not just Windows, the lot. An attacker only needs to exploit ONE SUCCESSFULLY and they can have control. So who’s got the better odds? It certainly isn’t you!

It further illustrates to me the divide between those that develop IT systems and those that use them. The void between the level developers believe users are and where they actually are is immense and getting bigger everyday. Wasn’t technology supposed to get easier? The reality is that is only getting easier for attackers to compromise systems. What does that say for a system we put so much faith in these days. Our common technology is built on very shaky ground, very shaky indeed.