IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Newest Videos: Track Your Time and Know What You Know

I've been posting up some "top tips" for IT service providers on my YouTube Channel (

My top tips are truisms I have used to manage my businesses (and my life) over the last two decades.

The most recent videos are "Track Your Time" and "Know What You Know." These are two of the most important rules you can live by  in a service business.

If you track all of your time (40 hours per person per week), then you can generate a wide array of calculations that tell you more about the health of your business. These include the profitability of each technician, each client, each project, and each contract.

Tracking your time and billability allows you to project your backlog and your burn rate. It allows you to make accurate project estimates and determine whether you need to hire more help or lay people off.

"Know what you know" is similarly rich and useful. At the macro level it means to have a good grasp of your skills, your environment, and relationships within your company. At a more focused level, it means you need to have a good idea of the resources available to you. These include people, hardware, software, training, etc.

At the smallest level - "In the moment" - you need to be very aware of what you know and don't know in troubleshooting a problem. It also means you have to have an absolute honest understanding of the limits of your understanding. Being perfectly honest with yourself and third-party support technicians will help you get help faster - and get escalated more quickly.

Self knowledge sounds easy, but it takes a great deal of dedication and practice. If you're in the business long enough, you will become very clear about the boundaries of your knowledge. But if you're just getting started with a new technology you may be less sure about your limits.

It takes practice and constant awareness to know what you know. It's something you need to practice for the rest of your life. The sooner you get started, the better!


About the Author

Karl W. Palachuk, is a technology consultant, author, speaker, trainer, and coach. He is the author of fifteen books. He has built several successful businesses, including two managed services companies. His books include Managed Services in a Month and The Network Documentation Workbook. Karl is a frequent trainer and speaker in the SMB Community. His popular blog can be found at He has more than twenty years experience as an I.T. professional and serves on advisory panels for several hardware and software companies.

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