Running the Bases with Small Businesses

On Technology Partners - Network Security, Deployment & Monitoring Service

July 27, 2020 Randy Rohde Season 1 Episode 7
Running the Bases with Small Businesses
On Technology Partners - Network Security, Deployment & Monitoring Service
Show Notes Transcript

Running the Bases today with Ken Fanger the Founder of On Technology Partners - an IT, Network Security, Deployment and Monitoring service, located in Cleveland, OH.  On Technology Partners has been protecting businesses and their teams for over 28 years.  From assisting deployment and securing Office 365 to building backups and monitoring solutions.  Their focus is to help their clients be the heroes in their stories.

Ken shares his story from working in tech with large corporations to establishing his own firm with his best partner ever - his wife - the CEO of the company.

Ken believes and expects that he and his firm must pivot at least every 18 months.  The pace and change in our world demand it.  If you expect it to happen and prepare - you’ll be ready when it comes.  Ready to succeed.

“Failures more than successes, but never the same one twice”.  “Complacency is an enemy”. “Education and training is the best way to do anything”. - Just a few of the nuggets of gold that Ken shares on the show - plus a “Mic Drop” near the end.  

Learn more about On Technology Partners and Network Security  at

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[00:00:07.960] - Randy Rohde

Running the bases with small businesses. I'm Randy Rohde and I have a passion to work with small businesses and I love baseball. So I thought, hey, let's bring them together. So every episode I sit down with local entrepreneurs, business builders and small business owners to talk about their wins and whips, their tools of the trade and to give actionable tips to other business managers.

[00:00:37.850] - Randy Rohde

We'll cover the bases with entrepreneurship operations, sales, digital marketing, innovation, plus a little fun baseball talk. Thanks for joining us today. Settle in. Grab your Cracker Jacks and you know what they say, label Naraha. I wish I had a box of Cracker Jacks, you know, cause that actually it tastes really good right now, so.

[00:01:03.720] - Randy Rohde

All right. Thanks for taking us out. Gary, thanks for joining us today.

[00:01:07.440] - Randy Rohde

I'm Randy Rohde and you are listening to running the bases with small businesses. And today, I'm pretty excited. We've got Ken Fanger from On Technology Partners, which is an I.T. network, security deployment and monitoring service. So I want to get into your technology protection and security business here in a minute. But first, I have to ask, what's the most incredible emergency situation you've had to battle when it comes to a company's technology security?

[00:01:37.470] - Ken Fanger

So we have a nonprofit in the region and they were getting ready. They get most of their funding in June and they had a database system that all of their information was on and they have to put in all their grant requests. And I was actually in Florida at the time at a convention, and I got a call Saturday at nine o'clock. Their server had crashed. It was gone. All the information was gone. Everything was gone.

[00:02:02.980] - Randy Rohde

That would have to be like the biggest nightmare scare for any company. 

[00:02:06.150] - Ken Fanger

Yeah, well, yeah, especially since they were 25 million dollars in grants that they couldn't file for. It was just Apsley, horrific. So I was able to get on with their team and we were able to recover it using the backups we use. We actually able to spin everything up and they were backup within 20 minutes of me getting on 

the phone call with them. Oh, my gosh.

[00:02:23.040] - Randy Rohde

Are you serious? 

[00:02:23.780] - Ken Fanger

I am serious. Nobody knew that they lost everything.

[00:02:26.490] - Randy Rohde

And you're like techno superman.

[00:02:28.830] - Ken Fanger

Yeah, well, sometimes we are completely invisible, which is good at that time. Nobody panicked. Nobody was scared. Everything was in on time. They won their grants. They made their funding for that year.

[00:02:39.090] - Randy Rohde

Oh, good for you. I'm sure anybody who's ever experienced anything like your client at the time was probably. Go ahead. I got to get a hold of this guy because that I've had that it's a nightmare. So I'm sure everybody is waiting. Who is this techno wizards? Right. So go ahead. Give give the audience a little bit of the background, who you are, how you ended up as this kind of master of technology. And give us give us the lowdown.

[00:03:02.050] - Ken Fanger

So I've been doing this for over 30 years. I have my MBA is actually operations management. And I had envisioned life that I'd actually be a warehouse supervisor. My first job was with Truckstops of America. If anybody's working there. And so I was responsible for doing all the payrolls are not payroll systems, warehouse systems design. And that's when I realized two things. One, I hated being a programmer and I wanted to stop being a programmer desperately. And two, I really enjoyed figuring out how systems worked. 

[00:03:33.900] - Ken Fanger

So I left there and I moved on to Ben for new labs who used to be out in Bedford. I became their network administrator. And so as I got more skills, I still always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I still found when I because I used to work for BP before I worked for trucks South America, the biggest problem I ran into in corporate America was everything was through committee. Every decision, every action. When I was doing payroll programming for BP.

[00:03:57.660] - Ken Fanger

Every time I went to make a change, I had to get eight to 10 people together and re-evaluate the change. In fact, this is kind of a great story. When I was in BP as a payroll programmer, I was actually still an intern when I started and I was looking at this program and we had 10 senior programmers around this table.

[00:04:14.040] - Ken Fanger

And this program moved all payroll for all BP, which was over a billion dollars every month. And as I was going through this program, all they were doing, all this techno babble and all this stuff I went to and said, this doesn't actually transfer truck. South America, which was part of BP at that time, which was one hundred and sixty million dollars. So every month they were short one hundred and sixty million dollars out of that account and they paid penalties on it.

[00:04:37.050] - Ken Fanger

And the company was so big they didn't even notice that they were doing this. Oh, man. And it was a small mistake, but everybody missed it. And when I brought it up, they all kind of had that look at me like, who are you? How dare you tell us how to do our job?

[00:04:48.810] - Ken Fanger

And then all of a sudden they went and reviewed it and went, oh, crud, fix that piece. So you saved some money.

[00:04:55.080] - Randy Rohde

So you probably, like, solved it, like here I am. Right. I'll see that in my bonus 

[00:05:00.570] - Ken Fanger

Doesn't work in a big company all the time.

[00:05:02.430] - Ken Fanger

They don't like to be shown that they've made mistakes, that it was one of the things I learned is companies would rather not know bad things than be the person that tells them something's wrong. Yeah. And that's one of the reasons why I had to get out of that environment. Not that they're bad, but there are certain types of people that fit very well into that that can do that very structured process.

[00:05:20.160] - Ken Fanger

And then there's people like us that when we go out and change the world or fail. Right. So, yeah.

[00:05:24.360] - Randy Rohde

And maybe that's the entrepreneur. But you're right. So when you say I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur and it's that I want to change something, I've all you know, it's like trying to explain, you know, the drive about being an entrepreneur. And I think that almost some up like I want to be able to change something, whatever that is. And that's what drives. 

[00:05:42.390] - Ken Fanger

Yes. I think you're absolutely, right.

[00:05:44.220] - Ken Fanger

It's that, you know, there's something you can do better. Not that anybody else is doing it wrong. But you can do it better. The last job I ever had before I started on Technology Partners was at Ben venue, and I remember I brought in we brought in a company to put together a new database system to control all the drug manufacturing. And I was amazed by the number of times they came and asked me how to set up their systems.

[00:06:06.790] - Ken Fanger

And I was like, I can do this better than you. I'm going to go out and do this as a profession. Because if you guys keep asking me how to do your job, why am I paying you? And so that was after that I was off and running on our own company.

[00:06:20.140] - Randy Rohde

So now how long has on technology been in operation?

[00:06:22.840] - Ken Fanger

Twenty eight years. Twenty eight. Twenty eight years. Yeah. We started out in education. We did it for school. So I worked for directly for Cuyahoga Heights schools. And we actually put in the first wireless network in any public school in Ohio.

[00:06:37.960] - Randy Rohde

Wow. So really. Yeah.

[00:06:39.460] - Randy Rohde

Man, I've, I've got like a you know, you're on the Hall of Fame here for technology. Oh, yeah.

[00:06:46.370] - Ken Fanger

We we we always tried to do new things. And because technology is always going to be technology and you just got to figure out how to use it. And that's one of the things I always talk to my employees and customers about is don't think of it as what is the technology that's new out there? Think about what is the problem you want to fix, what is harming your ability to do work? What is harming you from getting to move forward?

[00:07:06.910] - Ken Fanger

Once you know that, then you just find things like when we're doing this conversation here. Right. Audio conferencing, all that stuff. It's the technology to solve a problem of sharing a story. Right. If you start with sharing a story, you can build yourself to that. How do you do it? Type of conversation.

[00:07:21.560] - Randy Rohde

Right. Oh, that's a good way to actually kind of pull it together that way. So and maybe I'll just, you know, for the other kind of non techie or in layman's terms, give me like a quick like what does on technology partners do and in kind of layman's terms. Right. So the business guys that own, you know, now or have networks in their companies or whatever, what what can you do for them?

[00:07:45.760] - Ken Fanger

Well, the best way to say what we do is we help you protect your team from hackers. And I've learned that that is the best way to put it. Technology shouldn't be a bunch of techno crap terms. And at the end of the day, all you want to do is make sure that your team can keep working, that your team can be safe. And especially with what's happening with the Corona virus and the stay at home. Also, all these employees are working.

[00:08:09.790] - Ken Fanger

They're doing your important data, but it might be not as secure as it should be. And how do you make sure they can get to that security levels and you can't do it? Most of my competitors go out and will take care of it for you. But think about this. Would you want your doctor to take care of cancer for you and not know what was happening that put you at kind of a real situation?

[00:08:28.600] - Ken Fanger

You will work with your doctor. You work with us to build a plan that fits your business and your company, not just run out there and hope they do it right for you, right?

[00:08:37.910] - Randy Rohde

Oh, that's good. That's a good way to throw it together. So I'm assuming and I know actually in your world, you do have competitors. So what is your unique solution or value proposition?

[00:08:50.710] - Ken Fanger

So most of our competitors has this concept. They are called managed service providers or MSP you'll see out there. And their concept is they're going to make you as close to everybody else as they can. So it's very easy to take care of you. The problem is your business is not everybody else's business. So our approach is different. We take the time to sit down and talk with you and figure out what your goals and your expectations are. And then we build a plan to fit into that instead of making you fit our plan. We fit yours. 

[00:09:19.240] - Randy Rohde

Okay, so you've stated that so eloquently.  Kind of a sucintly. You right in there. How like did you, like 28 years ago start out of the box with that? Or how long did it take you to get to that point here?

[00:09:31.900] - Ken Fanger

About 28 years. Oh, no. And we went through many different iterations. And so when we first started, we were what you would call just a standard implementing company. And that was when technology, you know, didn't know how to set up a switch. What does a switch mean? How do you set up a router? All these terms, which were techno terms for so long, would confuse a lot of small businesses.

[00:09:52.560] - Ken Fanger

So we would go in and help them do those basic configurations get themselves so that they could get to the Internet. And then we showed them where on the Internet they actually wanted to go. So that's where we were for a long time. But then these things called implementors started to fade out. And actually, I think it's five years ago now. We went through 10000 small businesses, which is a phenomenal program for anyone. And at that point, we started to look at how could we change?

[00:10:15.430] - Ken Fanger

We had to pivot and we've had to pivot again just recently. So as we went through this pivot, we said, what can we do differently? And we started to look at how people were doing cybersecurity. And it's funny because I have a good friend who was one of the senior security advisers for Walter Clearers, and he said 

he always finds it funny. All these security companies do all this massive technology. But people should start with simple things like make sure they do patches on your computers.

[00:10:41.680] - Ken Fanger

I don't know if you remember, but Coventry schools got wiped out because they didn't do patches. Right. And so. We will start with that simple of a level to get you, because it's amazing, 90 percent of your problems come from not doing 10 percent of the things that are easy.

[00:10:54.920] - Randy Rohde

Right. And I know I don't I don't I can probably not recall all of the details around the Covington schools, but just to. So when you start talking about patches, meaning like, hey, do the updates to your software that you get the notifications. Hey, there's a new Microsoft update. Do you want to install it now? Do you want to do it? But I know and that whole thing with the Covington, I mean, it cost them several hundred thousand dollars, didn't it, to finally figure this thing out?

[00:11:17.880] - Ken Fanger

Well, yes, they it was more than $1,000,000. It was almost a million because every computer in the district got wiped out, including the ones that controlled the doors and the H.V. AC. So they had to bring all those people in the school, which is to a school district, one of the worst things. So they were shut down for four days. And so it pushed them into danger of not having enough academic days. And it was a really disastrous thing.

[00:11:40.650] - Ken Fanger

And there was a patch to stop that already released on the Windows platform. They would've been there, not the only ones. Right. I don't want to pick on them now. Is actually a bad thing. It's that it's very common.

[00:11:50.940] - Randy Rohde

Well, I love the idea of when you're talking about pivot and kind of that awareness or the light turned on at some point, you know, a few years back for you. So, you know, as small business operators, we all have, you know, I think at various points and hopefully we have a few more successes than failures or depending upon you know, some people say, you know, like, well, hey, sometimes you have ten thousand failures and you have that one success, that really is going to propel you.

[00:12:15.540] - Randy Rohde

But can you share maybe with your incredible background, one or two from each of those buckets? You 

know, the successes that you've had and the failures? Because, you know, again, I always try to tell people it's okay to fail. It's not the issue about the failure. It's how do you step back up after? What do you learn from it and how do you move on? And that's what I think is kind of critical for entrepreneurs especially. So how about sharing some of your experience?

[00:12:44.430] - Ken Fanger

Sure, I'd love to. And I always say you should have way more failures and successes. You just should not have the same failure twice. And so I'll give you a great example, talking about Truckstops of America. And this is one of the ones that really changed my attitude towards things like backup's. I was, again, the systems developer for Truckstops, and I was trying to fix a problem in their database, which is their list of all of their inventory for all five million dollars of goods they had.

[00:13:10.230] - Ken Fanger

And it had a problem and had a corruption that was making it so you could not get through it properly. And I had a brilliant plan. I use this delete command that I wrote and I thought it was going to ask me every time which each record as it went through. So it popped up and said, would you like to delete this record? I said, yes. And then it just went away and I saw three dots and that little flashing cursor that all of us that remember dos remember.

[00:13:33.840] - Ken Fanger

And it ran and ran and ran. And then it said five thousand eight hundred records deleted. I had wiped out everything you just said on my car. And this is my fourth day on the job.

[00:13:47.220] - Ken Fanger

I was to admit, panicking myself in many, many ways.

[00:13:52.050] - Ken Fanger

But what I did was I remember I walked in to the network administrator whose name was also Ken. Amazing guy. And I said, I'm fired. He looks up from his computer. He says, Ken, what are you talking about? I'm like, I'm telling you, I'm gonna say goodbye. I'm gone. He said, Okay, calm down.

[00:14:10.110] - Randy Rohde

You're going to want to see me leave after I tell you this. But yes. And he said, OK.

[00:14:15.480] - Ken Fanger

What happened? So I told him I had this corruption. I tried to do this. He said it's not a problem. We have a backup.

[00:14:21.720] - Ken Fanger

All we're going to lose is a half a day's worth of work. And from that day forward, I have always been committed to making sure we have good, good backups.

[00:14:31.050] - Randy Rohde

That is what they would call a baptism by fire is like, I saw the light.  I got it. Yes, exactly.

[00:14:39.030] - Ken Fanger

That was the baptism by fire. I thought for sure I was going to be brought in. And that was going to be my last day as an I.T. person anywhere in the country.

[00:14:48.840] - Randy Rohde

All right. So that's a good one. Thanks for sharing that. I obviously you skated through, though, and thank God for backups. How about successes. What kind of stuff? Toots your own horn here. 

[00:14:58.260] - Ken Fanger

So no.

[00:14:58.740] - Ken Fanger

And it's really great because I can show one of my greatest successes was Cleveland City Council. When we got hit with that virus, we worked with Cleveland, several departments within Cleveland. And the first thing we had to do was help them figure out how to be virtual. So I worked and figured out how to set all the protocols we set up. Zoome We set up YouTube. So you are able, as a citizen, a resident of Cleveland, you can go and watch every single one of their council meetings.

[00:15:23.250] - Ken Fanger

It's actually probably even easier now. We set up multiple ways for them to do that. We created the protocols so that you wouldn't have any zoom bombing, as you've probably all heard, where people come in and do bad things. So we worked with them and built that entire structure. We got it ready in a week and a half. They didn't miss a single council meeting. Wow. Good for you.

[00:15:41.760] - Randy Rohde

And you're using the plural saying we. So you've got a team there. On technology partners, so. And I think I read in the notes, you've got a nine member team and you are doing something that I would say is like, good for you if that your wife is actually plays a prominent role in your company.

[00:16:01.990] - Ken Fanger

Well, she's the boss. Yes, the boss from the beginning. 

[00:16:05.380] - Randy Rohde

Well, as all husbands, I would say. Well, of course, she's the boss.

[00:16:09.640] - Ken Fanger

In this case, she's the boss, both at home and at the office. Yes. So that took a little while is amazing. The number of people that were surprised we can do that. And we have come to a very good relationship and we work very well together. And a lot of it has to do with we don't work directly together every day. OK. She goes and she does what she does. She's very good at finding our PS.

[00:16:29.470] - Ken Fanger

She used to be a nurse manager for the clinic before she took over, running full time on tech. And so she has that managerial skill that she brought to this table. And it's really been helpful because I'm very good at computers, but sometimes not so good at some of the other organizing that I should be. She's helped to shore that up. She does great. She's very meticulous. She's very detail oriented. So all of our RFP is which a request for proposals that the government does.

[00:16:53.080] - Ken Fanger

She make sure they are perfect. And we have had a very high track record when we do those because of the amount of time she takes to do it. Right. And nurses have to be right. meticulous. 

[00:17:02.980] - Randy Rohde

Right. So but you've got a lot of other people out there. So you've got nine people on your team. Your wife is one of those. So what is that like? What is your kind of biggest, I don't know, say concern or kind of ongoing that you're always massaging or, you know, what is it when so, you know, you've just got a large team. How do you operate that way?

[00:17:25.180] - Ken Fanger

So and it's interesting you say that, because not only are we nine people, but we're always, always been virtual. So everybody else is kind of learning.

[00:17:33.280] - Ken Fanger

How do you deal with not people for in front of you? And I remember a few years back I was talking to a company and they said, oh, I can never have my employees leave because if I can't see them, they're not working. I don't have that ability. I have to trust that my technicians and my other staff work from a distance. And one of the things we've all heard about job satisfaction and one of the things that I figured out just recently, probably in the last two years, is the idea that there is never a hundred percent job satisfaction.

[00:17:59.440] - Ken Fanger

So what we've implemented is what we call the 70 30 rule. You should love your job 70 percent of the time and hate it 30 percent of the time.

[00:18:06.850] - Ken Fanger

I find that's worth me. You know, if I have to call in a collections call, I don't like doing that. There's other things that I'm not that thrilled with, but I find if I'm doing things I normally love, I can do the things I don't. And what we've told our team is if you ever feel you are not in that 70 30 rule, tell us. And actually, our operations guy had come and told he was doing certain types of work that he just didn't like doing.

[00:18:29.020] - Ken Fanger

So we made adjustments because when you love your work, I don't have to watch you and I don't have to watch my team because they're doing what they want to be doing, not what they have to be doing. And they do what they have to do on those small times. So they will do it to get back to what they love to do. And it has been a phenomenal change in our entire culture.

[00:18:45.850] - Randy Rohde

And again, you probably started 28 years ago with that.

[00:18:49.210] - Ken Fanger

Oh, no, no. This is in the last three years before that, we had some real issues there and some people failed.

[00:18:56.410] - Randy Rohde

But I will tell you i appluad you, because I think that is being very astute and very in tune, especially to the needs of your employees. And it's an especially, I would think, in your particular world in technology. You know, the skill set that you need from individuals I would think would be difficult if you're not just, like somebody is going to come in tomorrow and we'll replace him, you know, the the ability to manage and interact and be concerned, sensitive to your employees, to your team.

[00:19:27.040] - Randy Rohde

I think that's you know, the more that you can do that. I love the example that you just gave. It's it's a great win for you and your your team and the company as a whole.

[00:19:35.770] - Ken Fanger

Well, yeah. And as a small business, you can't I can't pay what an IBM can pay. We just don't have those type of resources. And so you got to give people some other reason to love working with you. And things like this are ways you can do that, and especially now with the stay at home orders. And it's partly going to start to lock down a little more.

[00:19:53.830] - Ken Fanger

You want to be able to have that where you can trust them. Trusting employees is much more productive than managing employees. And overall, you know, and you do still we still have goals. We still have objectives. We still have tasks and we still track that. But I don't have to call up and say, hey, look, it's Tuesday and I don't see you working on this. They come to me and say, in fact, we had a great meeting today, our marketing meeting and my team saying, well, I saw your marketing plan, but I think we should do this here.

[00:20:18.460] - Ken Fanger

And I think I can get this done. And I found out that a lot of the changes we're looking to implement this week, my team are to implement on our Web page and stuff. And so it's nice that they're taking the initiative and coming back to me instead of me having to set all the drum and fife. Yeah. Nice.

[00:20:32.770] - Randy Rohde

Very good. All right. And I know you've got some challenges and have and are dealing with various challenges. And I know you've you know, as you just talked about to your team meeting was probably remote. And I know you're doing some very cool things with that. 

[00:20:45.530] - Randy Rohde

But before we hit that, so Ken. You know what time it is? and it's time for the seventh inning stretch. The seventh inning stretch Ken it goes so fast, right? So because you're in technology, I had our research team kind of dig in.

[00:21:02.990] - Randy Rohde

I said, these kinds find me something kind of technology related with baseball. And we we came up with these kind of questions here, this question. So which of the three technology concepts hasn't been used, has not been used at an MLB park? You ready? Yes. All right. This is good.  Specialized sleep rooms, virtual reality or robotic umpires. Now, remember the one that has not been.

[00:21:39.830] - Ken Fanger

Yes, I know. I'm trying to think the robotic umpires, I know they don't use them yet, but I know they are having second judges. You know, that judging decision on the robotic umpire thing where they still are checking it. In fact, as a company, I was just seeing that was being more accurate than the live umpires. And everybody hates it. And I'm going to hate. I'm sorry. I don't want a computer telling me if I did a job, I'm going say robotic umpires.

[00:22:02.540] - Randy Rohde

How much cash? You are so good.

[00:22:04.010] - Randy Rohde

You are a techno wizard. Absolutely right. Yes. The robotic umpires is the correct answer. So I will. I'll go through all of these here real quick, though, to. So the specialized sleep rooms, they do have those in place. And for specifically for players, not for, you know, the fan to come in at like I need some shut eye, but at Fenway with the Red Sox, they have these special rooms and pods set up for players.

[00:22:27.890] - Randy Rohde

Virtual reality, it actually in multiple stadiums across the country right now. Teams have utilizing VR for opposing pitchers so that batters can step into the box and kind of see the pitchers that they'll be facing, as well as pitchers throwing two opposing batters. So very interesting. But you nailed it. Robotic umpires, they've tested it in the Atlantic League Games with an eventual maybe, who knows, kind of roll out into the minors and or major league.

[00:23:02.520] - Ken Fanger

So I don't know if sometimes too much technology takes away the feel of some of the things you do. I agree.

[00:23:08.270] - Randy Rohde

I agree. All right. So let's get back into it "Play Ball" . I love that guy.

[00:23:13.790] - Randy Rohde

So back to the questions.

[00:23:16.700] - Ken Fanger


[00:23:17.540] - Randy Rohde

So here we are in the midst of this global pandemic. And, you know, covered has been incredibly challenging for so many businesses, almost every business that's out there. And I know you've been doing really some great things, not only with your clients, but as as well as opening up to some great services just to anybody. Want to tell us a little bit about that. What kind of drove you to that? And I think it's a great story. So.

[00:23:42.490] - Ken Fanger

So one of the things we do sell is we do sell the Microsoft Office 365 environment. And one of things a lot of people don't realize is teams comes free with most Office 365 environments.

[00:23:53.510] - Ken Fanger

So when this started, we did a program for eight weeks where every Wednesday we did a team's training to help people understand how to take advantage instead of buying a zoom or, you know, or using the free one, which kept him to 45 minutes. They have this power already in their environment. They already own this. Most people that are have Office 365 don't know all the power that they can do. And so we showed people how to use Office 365 for a video chat, video conference and quick meetings, because all of us have that situation where, oh, I need to talk to my one employee.

[00:24:23.210] - Ken Fanger

Used to be you walked in the room. Well, that's not going to work anymore. So you have to use the power that you have. So Microsoft teams gives you that ability to click on a meet now and call up somebody and do a quick zoom like meeting right there right then. But it goes beyond that. You can have things where now 

 that we're virtual, how do we get to our files? How do we get to our information?

[00:24:43.520] - Ken Fanger

How do we secure our information? Used to be, you know, people are trying to figure out how to have their servers on site be accessible through VPN. We can help make that much easier. And that's one of the things that we've been doing a lot of, especially with this COVID situation, is moving away from that idea of a central office where all your information is contained in that office and moving to a cloud environment where your team can be anywhere in the United States and working.

[00:25:07.070] - Ken Fanger

And we've actually now started to add national customers because of this move to we don't go on site right that much anymore. Nobody wants this on site. So we've had to adjust how we do work and we're helping them. Our team, our customers are to learn how to do work that way as well.

[00:25:22.460] - Randy Rohde

Right. So, you know, everybody else, you know, and me included, you know, come kind of mid-March, get like the bomb blew up. And everybody's scrambling and trying to figure out how you came up with an incredible what I think both a service and a solution not only for your existing clients, but as well as for others. So we're very curious. What drove you or how did you arrive at that and how did you begin to implement or engage it and then attract?

[00:25:49.220] - Randy Rohde

And so really the kind of that whole motivation, because I know you said, well, it's kind of. You know, open the door maybe for some national clients, and I'm sure you know, that that was part of it, but I'm curious on the whole story.

[00:26:00.840] - Ken Fanger

Yes. No. And it really was not. We didn't expect to get customers from it. What we found was our customers were asking for this.

[00:26:07.890] - Ken Fanger

And we realized very quickly, I mean, we had been doing training, actually, and we do a nonprofit training because non-profits can get Office 365 for free. So we already were doing this training. We just didn't do it online. But what we learned really quick was people don't know what they don't know. I couldn't believe the number of times I would talk to a new customer that had Office 365 and was like, oh, I didn't know I could do that.

[00:26:30.780] - Ken Fanger

I didn't know I could do this. So I believe education and training is the best way to do anything. We always when we add a new customer, we work on setting up some training for them, because the more you can use it, the more you will use it. I don't know if you remember the days when there were solitaire on the computer and every company like we don't want solitaire on our computer. When I was in charge, I want everybody to have solitaire because the more you used it, the more you were comfortable.

[00:26:55.260] - Ken Fanger

So we were doing this and we can send these videos. We still have all the videos from the training sessions. We'll share those with anybody that wants it because it helps your team and it helps you to know how to use it. And I know people are afraid to ask. People are afraid to look foolish, look like they don't know. And I admit, I don't know. There are many things I still have to learn. So I want to find the best places to learn these things.

[00:27:16.170] - Ken Fanger

And I figured we could help give that to the people out there.

[00:27:19.620] - Randy Rohde

You know what? What I picked up out of that, especially something that you'd said earlier, which was pivot because you already had something kind of in place, you were doing some in-person training for non-profits, which is also another fabulous thing. But you realize I could kind of pivot here, offer this online and really kind of expand the people that we can serve and provide the solution and training for. And, you know, again, it's I think that's a great lesson for any, you know, small business owner, entrepreneur that's out there listening right now is, you know, that's so much of the journey of entrepreneurship is understanding your situation and can you pivot and do need to pivot and how can you do that?

[00:28:04.650] - Randy Rohde

And often it's taken advantage of something you're already doing, but applying it in a different way.

[00:28:09.750] - Ken Fanger

Yes, that's exactly right. And not being afraid of a pivot. And that's probably the biggest thing that I've come to accept is I expect to have a pivot at least every 18 months, if not more. And so I look for it and I think we're used to being told and we're used to being do the same thing, do it right and you'll be successful. But that's not how it works. That's why I say I expect to fail more than I succeed, because I don't know if any of your listeners know the lean startup approach.

[00:28:40.800] - Ken Fanger

The more you fail properly, the more you'll learn how to succeed later on. Right. And so I pivoting is failing and changing and then being better at your failure the next time. Yes.

[00:28:52.700] - Randy Rohde

I'll tell you what that is. So gold that I would be like drop the mic and like, all right, that's a wrap. But you are absolutely right on with that. I mean, I think you have to expect to pivot. You have to expect to change, because once you have that mentality, then you're open to when the situation is there in front of you instead of kind of blinders on and not recognizing it. And so that is that seriously is drop the mic. That was good stuff right there.

[00:29:20.310] - Randy Rohde

All right. So just in talking with you and interacting with you both just now and certainly our relationship over the last year and a half or so. I know you're engaged in your business. I know you get enthused by it. You've got 70 percent. You like. Right. But how do you stay engaged? How do you keep that level of intensity and focus there? And so that you can continue to drive. Look for the pivots. All of that.

[00:29:49.050] - Ken Fanger

And you mentioned my 70 30 rule. And I'm using that in my personal approach to it as well. Because if you find that you are falling into that 30 is becoming 60 or 90. Don't do it. Change. That's where that pivot comes in. The reason why we pivot every year and a half to two years is because, honestly, I would get bored of doing the same thing. And maybe it's something about IT people we know. We have to learn something new every 18 months anyways.

[00:30:16.440] - Ken Fanger

But it's always new.  What I was doing, even what I was doing a year and a half ago is changed. We moved into doing Office 365 and we did office 365. But it's more of a focus now. We are now looking at really focusing in on protecting people's teams. That's something that's a new marketing approach for us. So we keep changing and that dynamic means that my days are never the same. And I think consistency is an enemy.

[00:30:42.270] - Ken Fanger

And I know in small business, once you have enough revenue coming in and you can feel safe, sometimes that's the worst thing you can have for your business because you always have to feel that need to strive. That need to drive forward and success can be an enemy to that because success implies that you're doing 

 it right. And I've always been under that, too. I'm always doing it wrong. I just have to learn how to do it better the next time.

[00:31:04.450] - Ken Fanger

And every time we had too much success. I know that's a weird word, but every time things were going to good, you get too complacent. And I never want to be complacent again.

[00:31:12.630] - Randy Rohde

Right. Right. More gold, more and more droplets of gold coming from the Ken Fanger. We should do a book. It would be good. 

[00:31:21.240] - Ken Fanger

I have a book out there. 

[00:31:22.350] - Randy Rohde

Yeah. All right.

[00:31:24.830] - Randy Rohde

So techno wizard here. Tell us, look in your crystal ball. So what do you see? Not necessarily from a technology standpoint, but for On Technology Partners. What do you see as the next steps, especially in technology, because it does evolve so quickly and how we can apply technology to business and the way that we operate. But what are you planning for? And how are you planning for it?

[00:31:46.840] - Ken Fanger

So there's definitely going to be a shift. People can move more and more into using cloud technology. We've heard this for years. The difference is, thanks to this COVID experience, people are now believing they can become virtual, where a lot of people, especially small and midsize companies, felt they couldn't do it, they couldn't afford it, they couldn't act on it. So my feeling is I think right now Microsoft holds most of the market, but it's only 15 percent of the market right now.

[00:32:11.350] - Ken Fanger

So I would not be surprised if by the end of maybe three years, most people were working as a remote client within a company. You'll have people working from home as a general rule, and the people that work in the offices will more of an exception. And that's because we've proven that you can do it. And I know everybody hates being home right now because there's a big difference between the normal working at 

home where you can still go out to restaurant.

[00:32:35.580] - Ken Fanger

Right. And working at home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is right where we are. And I know the difference because, like I said, we've been virtual for a long time. But this is different because I never I'm glad to have come out here and done this with you because it's nice to get out of my house. Right. Right. But once we're past that, then you'll see when people get back to that sense of norm, then they're gonna be back to being able to work from home because not going to be a 24/7 cage.

[00:33:01.360] - Randy Rohde

Interesting. Yeah, I've had several conversations with folks in regards to kind of this whole COVID and what it's done. And I would agree with you. I think our society was already kind of moving toward that, probably at a snail's pace or slog or was something very slow with the COVID and the challenges with that and for people that having to kind of maintain some productivity.

[00:33:25.210] - Randy Rohde

It really is just pushed, you know, just with a rocket engine and to the future and is and has forced some of this transformation, I think, in the way that we work, the way that we work and stay productive with our companies and with our businesses and and with each other. You know, there's some that the virtual, you know, Zoom or some of those types of platforms have been good, but there's a lot of complaints. But I think, you know, I could see as well just technology still kind of blossoming and still providing even better platforms for that, because now this is just me trying to get my own, you know, nuggets of gold here.

[00:34:02.980] - Randy Rohde

But I know when it comes down to it, people still want to have relationship or relate with people in business. And whether it's a co-worker or whether it's a client and a vendor and a vendor. But it is you know, we still we're relational beings. We connect. And that's critical for us both to do business and just to maintain a level of happiness, I think. And so it'll be interesting, I think, to see how technology will continue to evolve to to hopefully nurture that connection.

[00:34:32.890] - Ken Fanger


[00:34:33.160] - Ken Fanger

And I think it's important and I'm actually on a side project working on some mental health systems, using telehealth. And one of the things I tell when we're talking to a school about it is this does not replace in-

person counseling. There will never be a replacement for another person sitting across from you when you have a mental issue. But what it does is it gives you an alternative when you can't do that. Right. And I think that's something that people get confused. They think that Zoom is going to replace in-person meetings. 

[00:34:59.990] - Ken Fanger

It can't replace them. It can augment them. It can enhance what you can do. So I want to meet you in person. Normally before COVID My sales cycle would be I would meet you in person. Then we can have phone calls and Zoom conferences. But you have to know and trust me, if you don't know and trust me, it's not going to go anywhere. And it's hard to get to trust somebody on a Zoom call because you don't feel like a human being.

[00:35:20.350] - Ken Fanger

You feel like a camera picture. And so we are suffering with it now because we don't have a choice. But I think once we're done, there's gonna be a backlash of these video conferencing for a little while. Because we're sick of being video conference dead. And that's why things can take a little time. That's what I said about three years. But we have broken through that window that you can't be virtual. And so we'll find that mix because normally in a week, I would do four to five lunch meetings and four or five coffee meetings and then I'd be virtual.

[00:35:48.010] - Ken Fanger

But I had human reaction. 

[00:35:49.420] - Randy Rohde


[00:35:49.950] - Ken Fanger

We don't have that. That's what's making this feel so. Isolating and alone. Once we get through that, then we can get back to where we can still do those lunch meetings but not have to go and sit in an office because the truth is in office or my home desk functions the same way. It's just being able to connect with people that would be different.

[00:36:06.570] - Randy Rohde

Yeah. Yeah, that's good. All right. And thank you for sharing about the great work you're doing on the mental health piece. I think it's great. And you're doing that stuff directly, right, in schools and helping kids. And I can't applaud you enough for that work. All right. So at the bottom of the ninth, let me hit you up with this. 

So we have all different types of business owners or people that are looking at and thinking about becoming an entrepreneur.

[00:36:31.060] - Randy Rohde

You've got 28 years of experience as a business owner. I mean, you're like that old grizzled veteran out there. You put the miles on the bus. What is some of the advice for those starting out in their business that are just like picked up the bat and they're stepping into the box. What do you got?

[00:36:48.480] - Ken Fanger

So there's a couple things. First of all, you want to find good advisers and allies like you with marketing, get a company like yours, get a good accountant, get a good lawyer, find a business coach. I have to admit, I resisted getting a business coach for a long time because I thought I could do it myself. Don't do it yourself. You can be an entrepreneur and not be alone. You're not an island. And so finding those trusted resources are one of the first things.

[00:37:15.060] - Ken Fanger

Look to organizations like the SPDC or Jumpstart. Depending on what you're doing now, Jumpstart is going to be if you want to do a fast startup. Make sure that you're picking the right organization. I worked with Jumpstart for 13 years. And for those of you who don't know who they are, they do economic development for high growth companies. But if you're not a high growth company, if you want to be a janitorial service, jumpstart wouldn't be the right place for you.

[00:37:38.760] - Ken Fanger

But the SPDC would. So you want to pick where you want to go. You don't want to spend your time trying to get somebody that isn't the right fit to work with you. That's the other thing, is be willing to, quote, fire your advisers quickly if they don't help you get moving forward. Don't be afraid. Just like you would fire a vendor. Get them over or an employee that isn't doing the job. These people are here to help you.

[00:37:57.870] - Ken Fanger

They should be helping you. If you're not feeling helped. And that doesn't mean they don't make you feel uncomfortable. They should make you feel uncomfortable. In fact, if they make you feel too comfortable. Get rid of them and find one that doesn't.

[00:38:08.010] - Randy Rohde

Another pivot. 

[00:38:09.490] - Ken Fanger

Another pivot. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:38:10.590] - Ken Fanger

Never be comfortable. That is one thing. But never be too uncomfortable, because if you get to the point of not moving, then you've gotten too uncomfortable. So you've got to find that magical balance between being uncomfortable enough to keep moving. But not so uncomfortable that you're afraid to take a step. Yeah, that's that's been the biggest things. And the other thing is this. And it's funny, I was just listening to the one minute marketing.

[00:38:30.180] - Ken Fanger

He said basically, you should only do this to make money if you're here because you have other high falutin reasons. Don't do it. I disagree with him. The only way you can do those highfalutin things. I want to make a better world with what I do. But I have to make money to do that. If you're a business, you have to make money to do the greater things right. So when you're thinking about I don't want to be that bloodthirsty business owner, don't think of it that way.

[00:38:53.430] - Ken Fanger

Think of it. The money you make. Lets you do the great things you want to do. If you don't make the money, you can't do any of them. 

[00:39:00.380] - Randy Rohde

Well stated. All right. And I'm sure for your boss, you would like to make money for it because.

[00:39:06.090] - Ken Fanger

Yes, she wants me to. 

[00:39:09.010] - Randy Rohde

All right. So, Ken, thank you for being here. How do people connect with you? What's what's a good way?

[00:39:13.590] - Ken Fanger

So they can actually, we are doing a program right now. We are doing free risk reviews for companies to help see where they are. You can go to our Web page, which is on technology partners dot com. And right there there'll be a link to go and sign up. And we're doing these free to help people learn. Again, that training  

thing that we're talking about, you don't know what you don't know. And so you can also call us at two one six nine two zero three one zero zero.

[00:39:39.540] - Ken Fanger

And we would gladly get connected with you. Or you can e-mail us at info on tech partners dot com. And just ask for help. We are glad to help anyone. And we know how it all works. 

[00:39:49.550] - Randy Rohde

Oh, so good.

[00:39:50.220] - Randy Rohde

Thank you, Ken. Thank you for being here with us today. Appreciate it. It's been a been a good show. And and really, you have given just nuggets of gold in business management, so.

[00:40:00.060] - Randy Rohde

And as we like to say, that's the ballgame. All right.  



[00:40:04.860] - Randy Rohde

I don't know why play that even because it really doesn't. What I need is a sound bite that does say that's the ballgame. Maybe I'll get you to do it. 

[00:40:13.430] - Ken Fanger

At least homerun. 

[00:40:14.450] - Randy Rohde

Yeah, exactly right. At least something there. OK. So, anyway, well, listen, everybody, thanks for joining us today. And if you liked your show, please tell your friends, subscribe and of course, review.

[00:40:24.330] - Randy Rohde

And as we like to say, we'll see around the ballpark, running the bases with small businesses is brought to 

you by 38 Digital Market, a digital marketing agency committed to client growth with lead generation higher conversions and increased sales. Connect with us today at 38 Digital Market dot com.