QI-008: Don’t Let Bad Computer Decisions Hurt Your Great Idea | Interview with CEO of an IT Support Firm

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No matter where you are with your great idea, at some point you need to figure out your computer infrastructure. Today we have a special guest to help you do that.  We’ll talk about where to start, what to think about, and we’ll even get into some of the more common mistakes startups, entrepreneurs, and idea people make when it comes to this critical element of turning their great ideas into reality.  

My guest today is Keith Schoolcroft, founder and CEO of a local tech support firm called A Couple of Gurus.  I’ve known Keith for over a decade now.   We both met early on after having recently launched our own great ideas at the time; that is, our own companies.  We both went onto to achieve wonderful success, often because of the business partnership approach we took to things early on.  In the podcast I comment on why you should be wary of that word "partner" and then discuss why such wariness did not apply to Keith and his firm.

Keith and his tech geniuses essentially became my IT department.  They’ve grown with me from a one man operation a decade ago to that awesome day in April 2010 when a public company made a multi-million dollar investment in Disclosure Insight, the company I had first started in 2000.  Within weeks we went from a tiny staff to having 50 people working for me around the world.  Keith's firm still works with me today as I'm back to being a solopreneur after having shutdown Disclosure Insight in February 2012. 

You’re going to learn a lot from this interview which runs for about 50 minutes.  This is longer than I typically strive for in my shows, however, the content was so rich I did not want to cut it short.  

In the interview we used our experience of having worked together with my companies over the past decade.  We share advice, examples, illustrations, and anecdotes of how a start-up can best set up their computer infrastructure on their own or work with a managed IT services provider like A Couple of Gurus.  

Here’s some take-aways from today’s interview –

  • Keith reiterated the importance of some of the ideas I actually talked about in Episode 7 where I addressed the topic of bringing legitimacy to your start up.  Some of Keith’s suggestions in this regard include:
  1. Have a web presence and overall professional approach to everything you do in getting your great idea going.  Blue Host (affiliate link) does a great job and can easily help any startup.  I highly recommend them.
     
  2. The importance of using accounting software like Quickbooks (affiliate link – gives 20% discount).  We went back-and-forth on the pros & cons of buying the version you install in your own PC or the version your subscribe to online.  My recommendation is that you purchase the version you install on your PC.  In exchange for the one-time upfront cost, you eliminate recurring monthly hits to your income statement and cash flows.  More importantly, and this is based on the fact I had to close a company in early 2012 but still need to retain the records for legal and tax reasons, I prefer the version that’s installed on my desktop.  Why?  Because I have zero desire to be paying a monthly fee to Intuit after my company is closed but the records and reports still occasionally need to be accessed.
     
  3. The business-like approach one needs to take to setting up their systems infrastructure.
  • Keith went into detail on things to think about when setting up your computer infrastructure.  He offered these observations:
  1. Don’t rely on your neighbor’s college kid as your computer expert.
     
  2. Be careful as non-tech experts can’t keep up with rapid changes in technology.
     
  3. You need to buy business-caliber equipment as opposed to what is typically sold in the big box, consumer-oriented retail channels.
  • In terms of laptop versus desktop, Mac versus Windows, Keith had helpful views including the fact much of the world has more closely integrated now making the decision less meaningful than in the past.   He also offered suggestions on ways to keep costs low while getting started and then scaling as you grow.
     
  • Keith has a specific recommendation for a multi-function printer he thinks is outstanding and well-worth the cost for startups:  HP Laserjet Pro 400 Color MFP M475DW Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax (Amazon affiliate link)
     
  • In terms of software, Keith is a strong advocate for the new Office 365 cloud-based software offered recently introduced by Microsoft.  He notes it’s available on the Mac or Windows platforms.
     
  • Like me, Keith is a big believer in having at least two computer monitors on each workstation.  I can assure you, the productivity value alone will far surpass the added cost and space they take up.

Keith also invited my listeners to contact him directly at 612-454-4878 or at acoupleofgurus.com

A few things to note after the interview –

Don’t hesitate to contact Keith if you need to talk to an expert.  I earn no compensation from my recommendation of “A Couple of Gurus” nor will it impact the advice he may give or fees he may propose. 

We didn’t have time to get into antivirus software and the need to do back-ups.  I will address that in the future.  

I also offered an inspirational comment for all of my followers who are working so hard to turn their own great ideas into reality.

Wrapping it Up

As always, I welcome questions or suggestions for making the show better.  Already I’m starting to get some really good feedback for which I am most grateful.  

If you want, call me at 763-260-4250 with your questions or challenges you’re facing in turning your own great idea into a reality.  Maybe I’ll answer your question in a future episode.

Finally, while here please take a quick moment to go over to iTunes and, hopefully, give me a 5-star rating and some good feedback if you think I’ve earned it.  You can also start following me on Twitter @quietinnovation.  

Let’s stay fired up about turning your great ideas into reality!

Today’s show is dedicated to my late father, Francis Xavier Gavin, who passed away only moments before I completed work on the April 24th episode of the QI podcast (Episode 7).  

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