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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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News & Articles

August 23, 2012 |

Escape Routes from the Death Zone

Feeling overwhelmed by the demands of running your business? Here are four proven ways to improve efficiency and productivity. By Todd Nielsen

By Todd Nielsen

Operating any company can be frustrating, but for an under-resourced solution provider, attempting to sustain growth while delivering great service can be especially debilitating. In fact, after a while IT business owners often enter what I call the “death zone.” That’s when you’ve been in business for about 10 years or more with very little growth and find yourself understaffed, exhausted, and struggling to survive.

Owners in this state usually say they need a clone, yet can’t justify the cost of hiring a full-time employee. Here are four alternative, out-of-the-box ideas to break free of the death zone:

1. Hire mini-clones
This may be hard to accept, but sometimes IT business owners have no choice but to be technicians too. If that describes you, consider hiring “mini-clones” to perform tasks that bog you down. For less than $400 a month you can hire a full-time virtual assistant, project manager, script writer, programmer, SEO expert, bookkeeper, event planner, blog post writer, video editor, or social media manager from the Philippines. They have a fantastic outsourcing industry there with highly educated employees who speak great English.

Don’t need a full-time virtual employee? Split one with another solution provider. Either way, you’ll have more time to focus your attention where it’s most needed.

2. Remove the sacred cows from your vendor list
I’m not a fan of changing vendors on a whim, but it surprises me how often struggling solution providers feel they’re stuck with vendors that never deliver. Vendors work for you! They should be easy to contact, listen to your needs, and never compete with you. By all means, standardize on a core group of vendors, but don’t hesitate to fire a vendor that isn’t contributing to your bottom line. This will increase your efficiency so you can concentrate on growing your business.

3. Get over yourself
I cringe every time I hear an owner say “No one can do this as well as me.” The plain truth is that third parties can often perform essential functions better and more cost-effectively than you can, especially if your business is just getting off the ground.

Outsourced helpdesks in the United States and Canada have come a long way in recent years, and many are fully qualified to serve as viable extensions of your company. There are helpdesks that specialize in monitoring; maintenance; level one, two, or three support; or all of the above. Hiring one will save you time and money until you’re ready to bring everything in-house.

4. Embrace the key to scalability
Establishing repeatable procedures is the surest route to higher productivity. Instead of simply fixing a system, take the time to document the problem. If a bad registry key or outdated application is the issue, for example, script a resolution and then test the script immediately. If it works, you’re now equipped to prevent the problem from appearing again, and have an automated resolution if it does recur. The key to scalability is efficiency, and the key to efficiency is process creation and refinement.

Of course, escaping the death zone isn’t a snap. But with the help of an open mind, some creative thinking, and ideas like the four above, any business owner can free up more time, achieve better results, and enjoy greater peace of mind.

Todd Nielsen‘s experience and thought leadership come from being CEO, COO, president, and vice president of various IT and telecommunications companies during the last 15 years.

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