Creating a Business as an IT Professional with Yiddy Lemmer

Guest: Yiddy Lemmer, Owner, CompuConnect

Episode description

After years of working for other companies, building and maintaining their IT infrastructure, Yiddy Lemmer took a dive headfirst into the world of business ownership. Yiddy has a unique perspective on creating and developing a business as an IT professional — something that many people in IT are actively working towards. There’s a lot more that goes into owning a business than relying solely on technical knowledge to build it from the ground up.

To learn more, listen to this episode of our podcast, Where’s the Any Key? to hear his take on business ownership as an IT professional, as well as the bumps he has hit along the road of developing his company.

The following is a transcription of an episode of our podcast, Where’s The Any Key? Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have in response to this recording. You can find our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever podcasts are available.

Ryan Bacon: Welcome to Where’s the Any Key? The podcast where we talk about anything IT related and even some topics that are IT adjacent. I’m your host Ryan Bacon, the IT Support Engineer at JumpCloud®. Joining me today is Yiddy Lemmer, he’s the CEO of CompuConnect, a professional IT services company in New York. Thank you for coming on and chatting with me Yiddy.

Introducing Yiddy Lemmer

Yiddy Lemmer: Absolutely, you’re welcome, thank you for hosting me Ryan. It’s my pleasure going on this podcast.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Yiddy Lemmer: Okay, so I launched my company CompuConnect, you mentioned it earlier, a little shy of four years ago, in 2017. We are based in Brooklyn in New York City. Our client base is here as well. We work exclusively on a managed service agreement, so we don’t do break-fix, we work on agreements only. And our preferred client vertical are accountants and bookkeepers. 

Prior to me opening my company, I was an in-house IT systems administrator for a watch company, also here in Brooklyn. When I joined, actually at a pretty young age, the company had 35 employees, and I grew with the company, as well as experience, as well as exposure to different technologies over the seven years that I was there.

By the time I left, the company had two locations and 150 employees with lots of technology under their belt. And then I launched my company, CompuConnect, to get to know other companies and meet other people and interface with more technology, because I love interacting with people and learning about all different types of businesses.

Switching From IT Employee to IT Company Owner

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. What we’re going to chat about today is something that I’ve been wanting to talk to somebody about for a long time, and it’s something that I would imagine that every single IT admin out there has at least thought about a little bit and that is making that jump from working for a company to starting your own company. So, where you started, like you said almost four years ago — let’s start with this. What made you decide to make that leap?

Yiddy Lemmer: Okay, so the nature of technology companies, IT companies… I’m not going to speak for all of them, but the vast majority of IT companies are started by a tech guy that’s great at doing what he’s doing and for one reason or another, it can start from something a manager told you or a boss told you that got you upset and you got fed up. Or you feel like “Hey why am I busting my chops and working crazy hours and have no life, working for somebody else? Let me just do it for myself. I’m doing everything anyway, why not just do it for myself and make more money?” That’s where a lot of it starts from.

For me on the other hand, I was working for a company, I was getting compensated very, very nicely, and it just came to a point for me — I’m a high achiever. I’m always trying to reach higher, I’m always trying to get to places, which is a double edged sword, it’s good and bad at the same time, because you can’t stop and appreciate what you have. But that’s the constant struggle of life.

But for me, I was working at a company for seven years. It was the same people every single day, it was the same environment every single day. It was the same common issues every single day, and as much as I wanted to learn new technologies and introduce new technologies to the company, they didn’t share the same passion that I shared for technology. They were very happy, they were set up, they heeded a lot of my advice and they took a lot of my advice and guidance, and we did implement a lot. But it stopped.

So I hit a plateau, and it wasn’t because of salary, it was just really because of the environment and stuff. So I needed to get out. I needed to do something for myself. I wanted to interact with different businesses and see how other people work and also interact, and this will also give me an opportunity to now interact with different technologies. Because different companies have different needs, different companies have different budgets, different companies have different wants, so it gives me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and my experience and my exposure.

Ryan: Now that makes perfect sense, because in my mind, what signals to me that it’s time to change jobs, change companies, that sort of thing, is if I feel like I’m starting to stagnate, then that’s the worst possible place I could be. Because you don’t want to get bored, and technology is changing constantly, and if you end up settling, then there is no growth, there’s no challenge. For me, there’s no interest anymore.

Yiddy Lemmer: I’m not sure exactly what the quote is, but they say basically that being comfortable, comfort is the biggest enemy of — I don’t know how to finish that sentence, I’m not sure exactly how it ends, but basically being comfortable is not a good thing.

Ryan: Right. Yeah, gosh, I know what quote you’re talking about and it’s something along the lines of comfort is the greatest enemy of growth. Something along those lines.

Yiddy Lemmer: That’s definitely what that quote is trying to teach us. 100%. Being comfortable is not good in any way, shape, or form.

Ryan: Yeah, and oh man. It’s interesting that your solution to fighting that stagnation or your solution to growth was jumping into creating your own business. And whereas for other people it’s like I was saying, “Oh it’s time for me to go get a job at another company.”

Yiddy Lemmer: Okay right, so full disclaimer here, my family is all business owners and entrepreneurs, so our round table, our dining room table conversation was always about business, business, business. So it’s been in me and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do. My vision was always to own my own company, so when I hit that plateau or that stagnation, my next step was opening my own company. So it’s always been something that I wanted to do.

Ryan: That makes perfect sense. I think mindset, personality, and ambition play a large role in it, because I mentioned to you when we talked before that, like a lot of IT people, I do stuff on the side. And I’ve thought about growing it further, but that’s not what I want to do. At least not at this point. So, I do think that your environment and your personality and your drives, that definitely plays a big role into it, and I think that’s really interesting to see different people’s perspectives on this.

Opening an IT Company is Not Always the Solution — but Sometimes it is

Yiddy Lemmer: That’s why I have to warn you though, that opening your own business is not the solution, it’s not always the solution. It’s a lot more, and I touched on this earlier, a little bit in the beginning. I realized I was going a little aside, I wasn’t answering the question directly, so I’ve kind of moved back. Many IT companies start out as a technician that is very good at what he’s doing and he feels like “Hey what the heck, I can just do it for myself and make a lot more money.” And that’s how many IT companies are born. There’s so much more than being a technician and being a tech and doing the work when it comes to owning an IT company.

I tried to prepare myself as much as I can, if that’s even a thing. You can’t really prepare before you launch a company, there’s just that much you can do. But, when I launched my company, I did give about four or five months’ notice before I left my old position, and I used all that time to prepare myself. I did a lot of research into different technology stacks that I wanted to use, pricing models, and I knew right away that I wanted to try to avoid as many mistakes as I can that other IT companies have been there and done that. Namely, there’s a big shift in a big way that IT companies operate. There’s a break-fix mentality, that when something is broken, “Give me a call. I’ll come down and charge you for my time and I’ll see you in a few weeks, months, or years”.

And then there’s the managed services mentality where you take the proactive approach where you try to do everything in your power to avoid an outage, to avoid downtime, to avoid issues with workstations, to avoid a cyber breach. It’s also very much relationship-based, because you’re working on a monthly retainer or because you’re billing your clients monthly, you have the opportunity. It’s not automatic, and I’ll touch on that in a minute as well. It’s not automatic that you have a good relationship with your clients, but you have a bigger opportunity to have a relationship with your clients — a real, good relationship with your clients. And then you start working with quality over quantity.

The first way, the break-fix model is you’re a local fire station — it’s feast and famine. I mean sometimes it will be crazy, you can’t catch your breath, you’re chasing your tail, and then some weeks it will be completely dead and there’s zero income, zero phone calls, zero dollars. And the worst part about all this is that you start the month, the first of the month, you start with zero. You’ve got mortgages, you’ve got rent, you’ve got bills, you’ve got payroll, and you’ve got no idea where that money is coming from. You have some history to look back on. We have seasons and trends and stuff, and you want to start predicting like that, but there’s nothing to predict, there’s nothing to forecast and it’s by chance… and it’s very, very stressful.

So, when I launched, I knew right away that I’m not going to jump into this and just start serving everybody and anybody who needs help and then later figure out that this is a detrimental model for an IT company, and then later have to fire all these clients and start all over again from zero after who knows what, mortgaging my house to make payroll and ruin my reputation and not being able to deliver on my promises. So from day one, I started out with this managed services model. It evolved greatly from when I started. I have to admit that it started with some kind of amateur pricing model, but at least I knew that’s what I’m doing and that’s what I did. Yeah, that’s basically it.

Ryan: Yeah, there’s also another benefit that I’ve heard of with the managed services model, and that is the perception of the customer, in relation to you. So with a break-fix model, pretty much every time your customer interacts with you, there’s something going wrong. They’re agitated and that kind of feeling is linked to their relationship with you, and so it may not always be the most positive thing. 

But, on the managed side, it’s a lot more positive — you’re there, you’re preventing problems. Interactions that you have with your customers aren’t always revolving around something going wrong.

Yiddy Lemmer: For sure.

Ryan: And, there’s a little bit of psychology there that means it’s a much more positive relationship, a much more positive connection between the customer and yourself. I find that bit of psychology is really interesting as well.

Yiddy Lemmer: It is, and it’s a great point. I actually use it as part of my sales process. One of the very first things I’ll mention is — my sales process consists of at least two in-person meetings. Now with COVID, we had to switch some things up, but my sales process consists of at least two in-person meetings. I don’t send the proposal by email ever. I come down and I present it in person and I can then control the narrative. I can control the feelings and the thought process during the presentation of my proposal, as opposed to the business owners going straight to the last page, all the way to the bottom, looking at the price, and then working their way up.

But going back to what you just said, one of the very first things in my sales process is I’m saying that, we take a very different approach to IT. The conventional break-fix — we’re essentially on two different teams. It’s not the same business. The break-fix model, they make money when you are down and hurting and not productive and having issues. That is when they make money. 

We make money when you don’t call. As soon as you pick up the phone and reach out for help, reach out for support… our profitability starts going down, because we have a flat rate monthly fee. So, it’s in my best interest for my company to make sure that everything works perfectly and to make sure that nobody calls for support. As soon as somebody calls, like I said, that’s when we start logging time, that’s when it starts affecting profitability and bottom line. As opposed to the other side of the aisle, where they only make money when you have issues.

So, of course they’re not praying that somebody has issues and somebody calls them, or maybe they are because really that’s the only way that they’re making money. So, they’re also not incentivized to fix it quickly. They can hire amateur technicians, because “I don’t care if it takes them a half hour, an hour, or if it takes them five hours. I’m getting paid by the hour, I’m billing them by the hour.” So, they’re not incentivized to have good technicians or fast technicians or smart technicians. They can hire people straight out of school, extreme amateurs, and just get it resolved, “I don’t care how long it takes or whatever.”

And by us, we want to make sure that a. they don’t have issues and b. if they do have issues, that it gets resolved most efficiently and as quickly as possible to spend the least time possible. So, completely different. Sometimes I’ll go out on a sales call and it’s very difficult to convert a client that’s coming from break-fix to managed services because money-wise, it’s way different. 

But, I just had this a month or two ago, where he was fed up with his current IT company, not getting the attention that he wanted or needed and not being set up and not being as secure as he needs to be. He’s a brokerage firm, so they’re dealing with a tremendous amount of personal identification information. I mean if any of that information gets leaked or intercepted, people could take out a mortgage — identity fraud at the highest level. And when I presented my price, I told him what it’s going to cost. He was like “Well, let me go back and see what my current IT spend is and how much IT has been costing me until now.”

So, I told him it’s not really… you’re not comparing apples to apples, because it’s not the same product. I’m here to do everything I can to prevent issues, to prevent the cyber breach, to prevent downtime, and that guy has just been reacting to issues, or so-called issues, whenever he felt it was appropriate to call. Another big issue with this break-fix model is people refrain from calling their IT company because they know it’s going to cost them money. The clock is ticking and this phone call is going to cost them money.

With the model that I use, that is the managed services all inclusive model, is that I give the client and all of their employees confidence to pick up the phone whenever, for whatever, big or small, and they don’t get billed extra for it — it’s a flat rate monthly fee.

Ryan: Yeah and that just makes life so much easier.

The Non-Technical Business Side of an IT Company

Ryan: And I’m going to change angles a little bit here. You mentioned your sales pitches and all that stuff. And I think that that’s one thing that maybe somebody going into business for themselves, starting up these companies, doesn’t really realize, is that you’re not just going to be doing IT work. To be successful, you have to do sales — you have to do marketing. You either have to find yourself a good accountant or learn how to do your books yourself. As someone who has gone to school for accounting, I still recommend just getting an accountant.

There’s a whole business side and business development side of things that you may not necessarily think of when you’re like “Oh I’m going to go out and I’m going to start fixing people’s computers myself and start raking in all the dough.” So, how did you approach that? Was that a big intimidating thing or were you raring to go? How did you approach the non-technical side of running your company?

Yiddy Lemmer: Okay, so that’s actually a good point and thanks for reverting back to that. It hit me in the face, big time, for sure. Sales is a huge thing and the sales process is not technical at all. Sales is a huge thing in and of itself. I actually am part of a business growth, sales, and marketing community specifically for IT companies, built for IT companies. The name of the community is Technology Marketing Toolkit, or Robin Robins — huge shoutout right now. Yeah, it’s been extremely helpful, and I’m part of that community and part of that program. It’s really been educating me as an IT business owner on how to approach sales and how to approach marketing, and even IT operations and setting goals, and financial goals and operational goals and meeting those goals, it’s just been incredible.

But for sure, going into business, opening an IT company, unless you just want to be a tech for the rest of your life and just be yourself and respond to service calls, which I don’t think anybody wants to do. I think people want financial freedom, people want to build a company, people want to be able to take vacations, take off. 

When you open your own company, at least in the beginning or until you structure it correctly and really build it up, it’s worse than a job. Because you don’t get to take sick days, you don’t get to take vacation days, you’re tied to the hip of that company unless you build it properly, and that’s extremely important. Many people don’t think about it. You can’t fully prepare for it, because who can prepare for it when you have to learn on the job?

Sales and marketing are a huge aspect of it. And then operations are also a huge aspect of it. My personal goal is to not be a technician or not be involved in tech. I want to run my company, I want to own my company and I want to take a step back. That’s my goal.

Ryan: I think that makes a lot of sense. After being on the tech side of things — on the help desk, the support side for years, I’m in a similar thing. I’m not looking to go into the entrepreneurial side, but I’m ready to step back and move up into the management side and that sort of thing. So, I totally get that mindset of “Okay, I’m ready to start looking at the bigger picture.” Because that gives its own set of challenges and that’s what it is for me, overcoming challenges. That’s what drives me from day to day. That’s why I got into IT, that’s why I continue to grow and push and everything like that. So I totally get that.

Yiddy Lemmer: Yeah, it’s a big thing. I know a lot of people have problems asking for money. That can be a huge hurdle in and of itself. You can’t open your own company if you can’t ask for money, if you can’t demand pricing, if you can’t do collections, if you can’t ask for raises. Sometimes you’re going to go back on out to those clients and increase their prices, either simply because of inflation or because they’re using you a lot more than they should be or that you anticipated. I mean that’s also a very important part of being able to own your company or build a company, and that’s a big fear for a lot of people. People have a big fear of asking for money.

But more importantly, amongst our community here, us IT people, and I’m not going to speak for all of us — I can speak for many of us, being part of an IT community with other peers interacting with us — a lot of IT people undervalue what we do. We look at it as “Hey, it’s simple, it’s easy, yeah it’ll just take me 30 minutes, it’s no big deal, it’s really no big deal.” We undervalue what we do tremendously, and when we undervalue it, we undercharge. And that can lead to massive burnout on a personal level, but on a business level it’s catastrophic. You can’t survive that way, because we all have the same amount of time in a day, and if you’re not generating money while you’re doing your thing, you can’t grow, you can’t hire help, you can’t hire techs and you’re stuck with something that I described before, worse than a job, because you don’t get sick days and you don’t get vacation days and you don’t get personal days.

Ryan: Yeah, and I’m glad you brought that up because there’s, I don’t know how to describe it — there’s like a school of thought behind pricing, where you get to a point where you’re like “Okay this is going to take me 10 minutes to fix.” And on his YouTube channel, The Futur Chris Do is talking to people about pricing models and that sort of thing and what to charge people. He’s doing it more from a design perspective you know — he’s talking about doing a logo. And he’s saying, “I’m charging $18,000 for a logo.” And then the rebuttal is that “I can go and get a college student to design one for me for $250. What’s the difference?”

And the gist of what he’s saying is that he has the experience, the knowledge, and all that stuff to get you that logo that you love, the first time. He can get that logo done in 10, 15 minutes, and it’s exactly what you need, whereas, the student that you go and charge $250 for, it may take a month of going back and forth, so what’s that value to you? So I think, going along kind of with what you were saying is that, to you it may seem like a simple issue that you can finish in 10 minutes, but you have the experience, you have the training. You have put through so much effort to be able to solve that problem in a short period of time, and that in and of itself has great value.

Yiddy Lemmer: It does.

Ryan: So you should never undervalue your skills just because you should never undervalue a task just because you’re able to do it quickly. If anything, that shows that that has more value.

Yiddy Lemmer: Yeah, but unfortunately it’s not the case, and the IT industry is saturated with IT professionals, people are popping up like, you hit one and two pop up with IT companies. And I’m not saying it’s unique to IT companies, every company, every industry has people that will undercut you and give rock-bottom pricing. If you shop long enough, you’ll get anything you want for cheap enough. 

But I know that, I’m in IT, we’re in IT, we’re speaking to other IT people, so I’m going to address what’s going on in our community and in our industry, that our people are giving away things for nothing and completely undervaluing it. It can go on for too long. They’ll realize that they made a grave mistake, because there’s no way for them to grow their company. They’re going to realize that they took on way too much liability onto themselves and then either hire help but they can’t afford help, and then they choke. And then they ruin their reputation and then they can’t serve their customers.

And then ultimately, we get a customer because that’s the way they come on board. They’re like “Ah, I think we outgrew our current guy, and he’s just not giving us the attention we need.” But it does make it more difficult during a sales process. Sometimes, business owners do look at the bottom line, and that’s why I do my best during the sales process to not discuss tech. We’re discussing value, and value means different things to different people. And some people can put a price tag on value — but you can’t really put a price tag on value — it means different things to different people. So, I try to do my best to sell on value, sell on the result, sell on what the vision, or what it would look like afterwards as opposed to “Okay, we’re going to install an antivirus, and we’re going to do this, and we’re going to back-up, and we’re going to monitor your computers.”

They don’t care — the business owners don’t know, they’re busy with their life, they’re busy with their business, they have their pressures, they have their financial burdens, they have their payroll, they have their employees, they have their life. They don’t care about what you’re going to do, or how you’re going to do it. They want a result. They want an experience, and that’s what you could put a price on. That’s when you can ask for a larger amount of money. 

As soon as you start breaking it down and going down into the weeds and start “I’m going to give you an antivirus, I’m going to give you some backups, I’ll give you some of this, some of that.” Then you can put a price tag on that because it’s a commodity, you can shop on it online, you can see exactly how much it costs, and there’s no reason why you should be charging more than XYZ for this.

And then you start comparing apples to apples. “Well that guy’s giving me this, this guy’s giving me that”, so that’s why I try to take a different approach on selling.

Ryan: That’s a good point. I’ve been saying for a long time that the bottom line, the true goal of IT is to improve business efficiency and effectiveness through technology. So, what you’re saying and what I’m taking from it is that, don’t sell skus, don’t sell individual products, sell your service, sell the efficiency that you’re able to bring because that efficiency is how you’re helping them become more profitable. Because, if there’s downtime, if they decide to stick with the break-fix thing and they have something go down, from the time that it goes down to the time that that tech brings it back up, they’re losing money. They’re losing time, productivity, everything like that.

Whereas, with a managed service thing, with it being more proactive and doing preventative maintenance and stuff like that, the whole goal, if you’re doing the job right, is that they don’t necessarily see exactly what you’re doing, because you’re doing it well and there are no problems. And that is the value.

Yiddy Lemmer: That is definitely the value, but that comes with challenges too. This conversation can branch out so far, because if it goes on long enough where there are no issues and things are working well-

Ryan: “Then why am I paying you?”

Yiddy Lemmer: “Why am I paying you?” One thing that may happen and it may cause them to go back to their profits and losses, “Why are we paying, when was the last time I even had to call them? Why are we paying them so much money?”

And that poses a different issue in and of itself. So that’s where the client relationship comes in that I mentioned earlier. Having a managed service agreement structure gives you the opportunity to have a relationship with your client. It doesn’t mean you automatically have one. It gives you the opportunity to have one, because you have a lesser quantity of clients. So, I know that I do it over here and it’s another thing that I was taught, it’s not an idea of my own, but I make sure to have a quarterly business review, a quarterly business meeting or, depending on the size of the company, sometimes it will be semi-annually, because three months may be too often for some people.

But I’ll make sure to have an in-person meeting, I’ll come down with muffins and some drinks or whatever and pizza sometimes. And I’ll come down to my client’s office, and we have a 30 minute to 1-hour chat about anything, just really catching up — really, really friendly. Then it also gives us an opportunity to review what we’ve been doing and how many tickets we’ve been solving and how much time we’ve spent and invested in your company. We also have an opportunity to sell them new things, so if their server is getting old and it’s time for an upgrade, that’s the time we take to present those upgrades, and it’s great for relationships. It’s incredible, it’s amazing for relationships and it’s also great for generating new business, to be very honest.

Ryan: Yeah, I think to the vendor relationships that I have, for the vendors we use here are JumpCloud and the most successful ones are the ones that kind of follow that same model as you, where we meet up quarterly and go over usage and we go over what’s coming and all that stuff. So, that’s actually really good advice, a really good suggestion, because from my perspective, that has worked, it’s worked well for me being on the customer side of the relationship.

Yiddy Lemmer: It’s not my own advice but I do my best to execute and make it happen and it’s been really good. Another thing I do for relationship building, part of the onboarding process, is I collect my client’s birthdays and it’s just the month and the day, I don’t need the year, it’s very personal information. 

But I don’t just collect their birthdays, I collect all their end-users birthdays as well, and I plug all that information into my CRM, and the CRM notifies me five days prior to their birthday. And if it’s a CEO, partner or decision maker, or a key employee, then we’ll actually send them a chocolate platter. We stock them — we have about 20 chocolate platters in stock at any date. And if it’s just a regular employee then we send them a card. We have a branded birthday card, it has my CompuConnect logo on it. So this is the birthday card that I have.

Okay, and then this is a chocolate platter, a little nine-piece high-end chocolate platter. And depending on who it is, I’ll just grab a card, slip it into an envelope, print out a label, and throw a stamp on it, and send it out. Five days prior to their birthday, it usually lands on or a day before their birthday, and it makes such a huge impression for them. The whole package costs like $40, between the chocolates and the shipping. The chocolates I can’t stuff in the mail, I use UPS, but they absolutely love the gesture. It’s incredible. They love it, I get incredible feedback, all the way up from these big untouchable CEO’s down to the receptionists, and I love it when I go to visit people’s offices and then I see the card stuck on their wall, on their little bulletin board, that they won’t even throw it out and it sits right there. It’s really, really good.

Now I got this advice… how this all started is actually one of my vendors — it was the week of my birthday, and it wasn’t just my vendor, it was actually Robin Robins, the Technology Marketing Toolkit I mentioned before, the marketing company. They sent me a birthday package on the week of my birthday, and I was not expecting it. Now I’m expecting it already because I know it happened last year. But, I was not expecting it, I got this box, I opened it up — full of confetti with cakes and chocolates and stuff with a card wishing me happy birthday. And I was so moved, I loved it. I was like “I am doing this, I am doing this.” I mean I’m doing this for my clients, hands down.

And then I was advised to take it a step further and not only do it for clients but do it for employees. And you don’t have to send them a platter, you can send them a card, because CEO’s are CEO’s, they’re here to stay. Employees, they relocate to different states, they get fired, they quit, they move, they have different circumstances. And if they’re happy with you and if you really impress them and make them feel good, they’ll take you with them. So they’ll go to a new job and they’ll say “You know, you guys are dealing with IT issues. The last company we dealt with was great.” And then there’s another referral from a happy customer. So, that’s my strategy.

Ryan: Yeah that makes perfect sense, just that personal touch. Just that little extra effort to show that you recognize them, that you recognize that they’re people. I love that, I absolutely love that. And the fact that you do it for the employees and not just for the management and decision makers is an extra, it makes perfect sense from a business standpoint, and I can see how from that relationship standpoint, it just solidifies it even further. That’s awesome.

Yiddy Lemmer: And everything we’re discussing right now has nothing to do with IT.

Ryan: Exactly.

Yiddy Lemmer: This has nothing to do with tech. This is marketing, this is sales, this is business growth, this is relationships. This has nothing to do with fixing your computer or helping you out with a virus. And again this is feeding back in a way to the beginning of the conversation. This is so important and something you have to realize before you take the leap and open your own company, there’s so much going on. It’s not just about being good at fixing computers. If you’re good at fixing computers, go get a job at Google or something. Don’t jump in and open your own company because you’re good at fixing computers. It’s really not the solution to the problem.

Being Proactive with Legal Protection and Coverage

Ryan: Exactly. And I do want to make sure as we’re talking about the non-technical side of things, I really want to make sure that there is something that’s very important to touch on when you’re talking about starting a business period. It doesn’t matter what kind it is, and that is making sure that you are covered from, that you have everything set up properly from the legal standpoint — creating an organization, doing your taxes and everything like that, business insurance, all that.

The one thing I want to focus on because it popped up when we had our initial conversation about this topic was, if you’re going to go into a company, you need to form a business entity of some sort. And what’s involved with that? Whether it’s forming an LLC, an S Corp or something, a sole proprietorship, anything like that, it’s going to vary significantly state by state. 

Because I remember when I was talking to you and I made the comment of, even though I do just very little business on the side in a break-fix capacity, I went and I formed an LLC just to make sure my bases were covered and I was good in the eyes of the Colorado Department of Revenue. And you made the comment of how just maintaining that is eating up all of the money that I’m making because I don’t make that much money on the side, and that’s because in New York it is a lot more expensive. It cost me like maybe, between $30 and $50 to set up online and like $10 a year to maintain.

Yiddy Lemmer: I don’t currently have an LLC but I did open an LLC way back when, different circumstances, different situation, and it cost me, if I remember correctly, no less than $1,500, between getting it set up correctly… and it requires a publication and it requires a publication in Albany and who knows what. A lot of bureaucracy, but it cost me $1,500 to do that.

Ryan: Yeah, so we don’t have to go super in-depth because that would be impossible because of how varied it is, but I just want to press the issue, that if you’re going to be doing this, check with your state laws and what’s involved, because that may be the deciding factor. If you don’t want to, if your state requires a bunch of hoops that you have to jump through, you may decide it’s not worth it. 

Or on the flip side if it’s like Colorado where it’s really easy to get set up, and I was able to do it in 20 minutes online, then it may be like “Hey, this is easy” and it may cause you to go into it, maybe before you’re ready. So, I don’t know, I guess it’s something that’s very important when you’re going to start up your business, and definitely look into your state and local laws and regulations and requirements for doing so. That’s all I really had to say about that, I felt it should be thrown in there at some point.

Yiddy Lemmer: So that’s all the financial structure point of view, but you also mentioned it briefly where, having proper insurance coverage.

And that is a big oversight, including on my end, and again, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve only had my company for three and a half years now, so I’m still fairly new. But when I started out, I contacted a family insurance broker, somebody that we’ve been using in the family and said “Hey I need errors and omissions insurance for my company.” “Sure no problem, we’ve got you.” They signed me up — “what’s your revenue, what’s your this, what’s your that, one million, two million per situation for a year, have a good day”, you got yourself insurance. And that’s it. I didn’t think twice about it. 

Then I spoke to a colleague — situations happen, nothing by me, but in my community I had another IT company that suffered a breach, which then caused his clients to get breached by ransomware and he was on the hook for more than $230,000 of paying ransomware to get back all his clients’ data.

So that prompted me to look into my policy to see am I covered for that? Is that going to be enough? I’m going to do my best to do everything I can to protect my clients but cybersecurity is huge, and you leave one door open by mistake or one outdated version of a key piece of software or sometimes it’s not even your problem. Sometimes it’s a program you’re using and they’re not being secure enough. And next thing you know is you’re dealing with a cyber attack and that could result in affecting your clients. 

Am I covered for that? If I needed to call somebody and say “Hey I need $250,000 to bail out my customers”, who is going to be there for me? So it prompted me to look into it and it turns out that my coverage was slim to nothing when it came to having proper cyber protection. And it wasn’t just a regular cyber protection, it was a special insurance policy, insurance coverage for IT companies specifically.

And I now do — my premiums went up like crazy because I now have the proper policy. Before it was nothing. And I’m paying four times the amount of money, but I now know that if something were to happen, either by an error of myself or my team, or if something happened with the technology or the platform that I’m using and they suffer a breach which then resulted in some sort of breach for my clients, or me not being able to perform my duties for my clients and put me out of business, I now know that I am covered from head to toe, with more than a million dollars of coverage of any situation. And that is a ton of money, and it covers anything from — I’m not even going to go into the weeds — but I have proper coverage right now, and in turn, my clients have proper coverage. It’s not just me, my clients now have proper coverage to recover from something, hopefully nothing and hopefully never.

But it’s extremely important to have it there. And I know if I made this mistake, I know many other people are doing the same mistake as well. And I plan to build this into my sales process as well, to give the prospect comfort in knowing that, should something go bad, and I’m not counting on anything, but we are properly secured and we have the money and the funding and the support behind us and the backbone behind us to back us up and put our money where our mouth is, should something go wrong. And it’s also extremely important, just like a financial structure — you’ve got to have that coverage for you too.

Closing Remarks

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. All of these things go into running a successful company that you build, and I am so very grateful that you came on, that we can chat about this. I can keep going-

Yiddy Lemmer: Go on for hours, for sure.

Ryan: So we are out of time now, so I really do appreciate you coming on Yiddy, and talking to me about all this stuff and geeking about, not only about the business side. Because I geek out about the business side of things too, so thank you again. Again, my guest is Yiddy Lemmer and best of luck to you in your ventures and I hope that our listeners get some value out of your experience and your advice.

Yiddy Lemmer: Absolutely, I would love to hear back. I mean people can contact me. I’m on LinkedIn and on Google. If you thought this was valuable, shoot me a message. I’d love to hear back.

Ryan: Thank you for listening to Where’s the Any Key? If you like what you heard, please feel free to subscribe. Again, my name is Ryan Bacon and I work for JumpCloud Directory Platform, where the team here is building a cloud-based platform for system and identity management. You can learn more and even set up a free account today.

So until next time, keep looking for that any key. If you find it, please let us know. 

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