716: Demystifying IT: How to Find the Right Tech for Your Business | Shane Mishler

Podcast Cover Image: Demystifying IT: How to Find the Right Tech for Your Business Featuring Shane Mishler
Podcast Cover Image: Demystifying IT: How to Find the Right Tech for Your Business Featuring Shane Mishler

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Are you dreaming of Startup success? Hidden tech traps could be holding you back!

Join us on the Conquer Local Podcast as we chat with Shane Mishler, Chief Operating Officer of SD Tech. Shane is a growth expert who will share his insights on avoiding tech pitfalls and achieving operational excellence.

Learn how to navigate strategic growth for your Startup and avoid common tech traps that can hinder your business. Shane’s helped SD Tech triple their revenue and build a network of over 200 clients.

Don’t miss this episode packed with actionable tips. Plus, grab your FREE guide on “6 Tech Traps That Can Stop Your Startup” at smallbusinesstechtips.net.

Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners, agencies, and enterprise-level organizations. Learn more about Vendasta, and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) make up to $10,000 off referrals.

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Demystifying IT: How to Find the Right Tech for Your Business


Jeff Tomlin: I’m Jeff Tomlin and on this episode, we’re pleased to welcome Shane Mishler.

Shane is the Chief Operating Officer for SD Tech, and oversees the daily operations of the company. He partners with the owner to design and implement business strategies, plans, and processes. Shane is actively involved in all of the company’s investments, clients, strategic franchise partners, and expansion activities. During his tenure, the company’s revenue has more than tripled, and their active client list includes over 200 different companies.

Get ready Conquerors for Shane Mishler coming up next on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local Podcast.

Small Business IT: Stable with AI on the Horizon

Jeff Tomlin: Shane Mishler, welcome to the Conquer Local Podcast. Thanks for coming by. Hey, how are you doing, man?

Shane Mishler: I’m doing pretty good. Thank you for asking. It’s been a good week so far, and I’m looking forward to the rest of it, to be quite honest.

Jeff Tomlin: Hey, well, I’m pumped for a conversation because it’s been a little while since we’ve delved into the IT world and all things related. And super important area, especially for small businesses as we think about those. Maybe you could kick us off and talk about 2024 and the business challenges that we have now. In the realm of IT, how have things changed if you look back over the last few years to now? What’s at the top of businesses’ minds when they’re thinking about their IT solutions?

Shane Mishler: That’s a good question. I think that when we talk about technology, usually one of the phrases that’s always associated with it is how it’s so quick to change and technology is constantly updating, and constantly changing. And to a degree, I would say that’s very true. All of your major technologies are usually releasing some major hardware or software version about once a year, but over the last four or five years, I don’t think that technology has really changed that much from how it impacts a small business. Your basic infrastructure, it’s all the same. But a little right around four or five years ago, we did see a major swing when COVID hit. There was a big shift to working from home and we’ve been supporting that for small businesses over the last five years. But I think now things are starting to balance out. The majority of people are staying either in-office or at home or somewhere in between, but there’s not a lot of change. So everything has been pretty nice and smooth. The only thing people are really asking questions about right now is how AI is going to either impact them over the next year or two or how it could be impacting them currently. And for most small businesses, I think that’s something they have on your radar, but I really don’t think that’s a big trend that’s going to be changing the small business landscape anytime soon.

AI Quietly Impacts IT, and Bigger Impact Coming in Marketing.

Jeff Tomlin: And from your perspective, is AI making an impact in the IT world? From the marketing perspective, marketers are digging into AI for all sorts of different applications whether it’s stitching technologies together or efficiency in creating copy and storyboarding and just helping them think through processes. Has it changed things on the IT side or augmented some of our capabilities?

Shane Mishler: So on the IT side, AI has actually been making an impact for much longer than people realize, but it’s not something that the majority of people have wanted to talk about. So antivirus software is something that’s kind of phasing out and it’s moving towards a technology called EDR, and it’s effectively antivirus that’s backed by AI and it learns a machine. It’s really, really cool. It’s great for geeks, something for me to nerd out over, but the majority of small business owners don’t want to get into that level of conversation. So when it comes to how AI impacts a small business, I talk about the same things that you just talked about, Jeff. I talk about how AI can make getting documentation a little bit easier to produce and to replicate. I talk about how AI can help with building out emails or providing some type of inspiration, but for the most part, how it’s shaping the technology that we use. It’s nothing that’s groundbreaking. Not from a day-to-day. I have started to share about how AI can really help with email organization and not just the producing an email, but it’s still minor. I think it’s going to be over the next two to five years, and it’s going to really impact the things like marketing, sales, and even podcast generation. It makes it a lot easier for the editing a ton, easier for editing.

Jeff Tomlin: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. Hey, IT is such an important piece of any business’s operation and the infrastructure of a business. So from you, your background as an IT architect, I’m curious about your perspective and how you think about the businesses and their business structure. We’ve all got our perspectives. Primarily, I’m a marketer. When I think about a business, I think about their go-to-market and how they’re positioning themselves.

Salespeople think about how a business is selling itself. Other people might come from technologists, might come through it from looking at their software and their product. So as an IT architect, and a business leader, you’re COO, how has that shaped the way that you look at either businesses or how you approach entrepreneurship?

Shane Mishler: That’s a very great question, and I imagine for you with the marketing and sales backgrounds, that really does shape how you’re going to attack a problem. For me, the entrepreneur mindset has been ingrained since I was a teenager. Jeff, I remember grouping together a couple of my primary hobbies and thinking, how can I build a business model around this? I remember having this conversation when I was 14 or 15 in the back of a school bus.

Technology has always been there for me. It’s always been something that I’ve utilized. I’ve always had a strong passion for it. And so it would be fair for you to assume that I go into looking at a business with the technology mindset. But the reality is, I don’t. I like to get to know business owners. I want to know how they came to be, what was their story? I want to know what product or service that they’re attempting to offer to their clients. I want to know how they manage their employees, and I like learning about all of that. And then I want to assist them in providing good recommendations for what technology is going to best support them. But I don’t go into it from a technology mindset because technology should never be something that we’re chasing after. Technology should always be in the background supporting what we do in our day in and day out. But it’s very different than thinking about the marketing ourselves because that takes a very specialized approach depending on what you’re offering and how you’re going to go about communicating that. So one of the things I like about technology and since this is what I do and it’s what I know, I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about it. I like getting to know the people. I like getting to know their products and their services, their offerings because genuinely, that’s where I find a lot of enjoyment. And the technology, the majority of stacks are just the same across the majority of small businesses. There’s not a lot of variation. It’s just about finding the small, subtle differences that’s going to work for the business owner or their employees. It’s different because it’s not really what you would expect, but once you understand it, it’s relatively simple.

Business needs Consultant, and not Salesperson, for IT Solutions.

Jeff Tomlin: It’s funny. It wasn’t necessarily what I was going to expect, but your perspective is what you knew. I haven’t known too many IT people in my career because we’ve had some long-term ones, but I remember one guy saying to me, “Hey, can you send me an email? I don’t really like talking to people.” Then I just think, “Oh, IT people must be like that.” No, it doesn’t surprise me though that you say listening is a really important part of doing a great job, and it seems to transcend any type of field that you’re talking about. So, again, infrastructure plays such an important role in any type of business. Is there a particular type of approach or a way of thinking business owners should have in today’s day and age when they’re trying to pick out the right tools to run their business? A lot of choices out there. One thing that we talk about in the SaaS world is that there’s so many different products and services out there. How do you pick the right one? So I was just wondering if you’ve got an approach or a way of weeding through the mess.

Shane Mishler: I do have. Yeah, absolutely. I have an approach that I take, and it’s the same approach that I take with a variety of different aspects of business. So if I didn’t have a technology background and I was getting ready to launch a new business, and maybe I’m offering podcast solutions. So I know that what I want to do is I want to put together a podcast studio and I want to assist people in finding guests and getting connections made because I really do enjoy building a strong network and building up partnerships between people.

So I know a little bit about podcasts. I know I’m going to need a microphone, I’m going to need a couple of computers. I think that the majority of people, if you don’t have a background in technology, you’re going to find yourself at Best Buy. Or maybe shopping on Amazon. Wouldn’t suggest shopping on Amazon if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You should at least have some level of a consultant helping you along. So you find yourself on a Best Buy floor and you have 15, or 20 different microphones to choose from. You’re going to have USB, XLR, all of these different types of connections. You’re going to have a choice between basic workstations, gaming computers. Another 15 or 20 different computers to choose from. And ultimately, what you’re going to find if you’re shopping on a showroom floor, is somebody who’s trying to push very particular products that they’re trying to move, right? Whether they’re getting paid a little bit of extra for a specific product that they’re selling, and ultimately, you’re going to end up getting sold whatever it is they want to sell you, and it’s not going to be right for your business.

So my background, I’m not strong in marketing. I know what I need to know, but I know that I don’t know enough to do it on my own. It’s not my wheelhouse. So I like finding a good partner for marketing to assist me along the way, and I know that that professional consultation is going to go far for me. So that’s the same approach I take with small businesses and technology is my very first recommendation when trying to figure out what’s going to be best for you is finding a true consultant. Not somebody who’s working on behalf of Best Buy or Amazon or Walmart or Costco or anywhere like that, but finding a consultant that understands technology and understands business, and that will offer you some good services and help you identify what’s going to be a good solution. Now, the scary part of that is oftentimes people charge a lot of money for consultations, and that’s not really what somebody wants to go into. But when it comes to IT, the majority of our competitors, like in a managed service space consultation is usually free. I don’t think that the majority of business owners know that. So getting out there and talking with somebody who has the experience to help pull together different solutions, that’s the place where I would start.

Non-techies: Learn a Little, but Find Trusted IT Help.

Jeff Tomlin: We’ve got a theme around here about becoming the trusted local expert, and that fits really well with that type of thinking. No, I’d like to think that there’s more people out there like me, and maybe there are, but IT has always been this black box for me. I feel like I’m using less equipment than I did in the past. I rarely print in the office and now anytime I have to print, I don’t know how to figure out the printer and get it working. But all IT things have been sort of this black box to me. So do you have any advice for non-techies? If you’re talking to business owners out there that are more or less non-technical when you’re thinking about it in today’s day and age, do you have any advice for them?

Shane Mishler: I do. One, I have been in technology for all of my life starting, I remember five years old I’ve been playing video games, Nintendo. I remember playing with my uncle, playing with my mom. I took a strong liking to technology when I was in high school, and I’ve been doing it professionally for 20-plus years. I hate printers, Jeff. They are a pain man. This is what I do day in, and day out.

Jeff Tomlin: I’m glad to hear it.

Shane Mishler: They’re a pain. None of my technicians like printers. It feels like old, old technology that’s never gotten easier to use. So the first thing I want to say to anybody out there, not advice, but you’re not alone. Even those of us who do this for a profession, printers aren’t fun.

Jeff Tomlin: They aren’t. Screw printers.

Shane Mishler: Seriously, I can’t wait for us to be fully away from there. Let’s save the environment and save the headache. The best advice I have is it’s great to learn a little bit. I enjoy learning. I like getting out there and learning new skills. But remember that whatever it is you’re doing in your business, you’re offering a product or a service to your clientele, to your community. And the more time that you spend deviating from your primary business plan, the more time you’re taking away from servicing that client. So be specific in your approach. And while you’re out there learning, it’s really easy to get caught up learning about networking or Wi-Fi or what’s causing this small glitch to happen in your system. And it can feel really rewarding. But you can also find that you’ve lost four or six hours researching YouTube videos or TikTok or Reddit, and then you can really end up going too far down that path.

Jeff Tomlin: I’ve been there.

Shane Mishler: So spend a little bit of time, yeah, get a little bit familiar, but don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for assistance. I know a lot of small business owners that rely on a friend or family member, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Personally, I don’t like hearing that when a business relies on an employee who happens to be decent with technology because nine times out of 10 that employee was hired to do a specific job set, and then they end up getting pulled in a different direction to help out with technology. So it can become a burden. I don’t recommend putting all of that on an employee who you didn’t hire for that purpose, but find somebody that you can reach out to. Jeff, it’s true. It’s not just you. When it comes to technology, oftentimes it does feel like a black box. People don’t know where to go for assistance. I am still trying to help shed the skin from generations past. My team is typically looked at as being you’re expected to be a basement dweller. That’s a really harsh term for our teams. We’re usually looked at as being very secluded and sequestered, and we don’t like to interact with people. But that’s not true. At least not in our company. But the majority of people I know that are in technology, typically we like using technology because it better helps us connect with people. So that’s one of the big areas that we have to be very aware of is how people who aren’t familiar with technology typically look at techies. And then the other areas, technology has this stigma about it today where it’s treated like mechanics from the 90’s where people are like, “Oh man, I don’t know what’s going on, and you’re going to tell me that this VX-32T is busted. And I don’t even know what that is.” So finding somebody that’s actually trusted and building up that relationship with them, or if they’re good, they should be working to build up that relationship with you. That’s the biggest advice I have is find somebody that you can trust to assist you along the way because it’s too broad of a spectrum to be able to learn it all on your own.

IT Architect Finds Work-Life Balance through Passion and Relationships.

Jeff Tomlin: Well, Shane, I wish I talked to you before I went down a four or five-hour rabbit hole this weekend trying to fix my router. Suliman, we should have booked Shane before this week. It would’ve saved me a lot of headache. And I found out, actually, I called my provider and it was like 15 minutes and the phone would’ve saved me four or five hours. It’s just like the Geico commercial. Okay. Well…

Shane Mishler: It really is.

Jeff Tomlin: Well, that’s a good takeaway. Thanks for that, Shane. I ask a lot of people about balance because I have the opportunity of getting senior business leaders on this podcast, and one of the things that we all struggle with is time and balancing busy schedules and a lot of different roles and hats. You’re an IT architect. You’re an entrepreneur. Talk to me a little bit about how you approach balance, because, again, I like to bring that up and glean people’s advice anytime I can.

Shane Mishler: So one of our core pillars at SD Tech is work hard, play hard, and it’s nice. I think it’s common. I’ve worked for several different companies that had some type of play on those words. But the reality is that we’re about that. We work very diligently and we play just as hard, and that’s where balance comes from for me. So in my downtime, I’m still doing things that are centred around technology. And for me, that’s okay because it’s a true passion.

I don’t feel overwhelmed by it, at least not most of the time. But I go to a lot of concerts. I go to movies, I read books. I spend a lot of time with my loved ones. I spend a lot of time with our furry family members. We have an office dog. She helps keep everything a little bit more relaxed. But for the most part, Jeff, I focus on people. I really do. I focus on relationships because then even when we’re working, it makes the work a little bit more enjoyable.

When things get rough, if we’re working between technology and people, then when we finally reach the end of a project or we overcome a hardship, then it’s usually sitting down with either our employees or our clients. Maybe we’re sharing a margarita and some fajitas, but we’re sitting down and we’re relaxing afterwards and we’re celebrating our victories. Well, there’s a lot of victories to be had, and there’s a lot of work to be done to get there. There’s also a lot of enjoyment to come alongside with it.

Partnership brings Power, makes Work Easier and Enjoyable.

Jeff Tomlin: Well, Shane, I will cheers you to that. I couldn’t agree more. I’m going to ask you for one takeaway. I’ve already got my takeaway. It’s going to be ask for help because boy did I need that one. But if you had one other takeaway for the audience, what would it be?

Shane Mishler: So my takeaway is just a slightly different variation of what you just said, and it’s that there’s power in partnerships. There’s a ton of power in partnerships. And as entrepreneurs, we oftentimes end up doing things by ourselves, and it’s just the way things are. We have to wear so many different hats and we can’t expect everybody to truly be alongside with us. But if you can find one or two people that you’re already close to or find one or two people that you might be new to, build up those relationships because there’s a ton of power in them. And if we lean on one another and work towards building a strong community, then not only does the work get easier, but it becomes more enjoyable.

Getting in touch with Shane Mishler

Jeff Tomlin: Yeah. Shane, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the Conquer Local Podcast. If people wanted to continue the conversation with you, how do they get hold of you?

Shane Mishler: So I have a couple of different ways. The easiest, it’s most straightforward. You can find me on LinkedIn, Shane Mishler. You can reach out to me. I respond to almost all of the messages unless it really seems spammy. Another great way is visiting us at sd-tech.net. I also have a special gift for anybody that’s out there listening, and it’s a nice little PDF we put together highlighting six of the most common things that young entrepreneurs fall victim to. And so it’s called Six Tech Traps That Can Stop Your Startup, and you can find that at smallbusinesstechtips.net. And if you go through there, that’s another great way to end up connecting with me as well.

Jeff Tomlin: And we’ll add that also in our link below to make it easier for people to find. Shane Mishler, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you. Hope you have an amazing week and hope to have you back and we can continue the conversation and the podcast sometime down the road.

Shane Mishler: I appreciate that, Jeff. Thank you. If you’re ever in San Antonio, I’d love to show you some good fajitas and margaritas. It’s a great place to start.

Jeff Tomlin: I got to go. I got to go. Hey, have a fantastic week, Shane.

Shane Mishler: Thank you. You too.


Jeff Tomlin: Shane, An IT guy I can actually relate to. Here’s some takeaways that I got from Shane: Don’t chase the latest tech trends. Focus on the business needs first and use technology as a tool to support those needs.  Most small businesses won’t benefit from cutting-edge AI solutions, but they can leverage AI for tasks like email organization, documentation and creation of content.

The second takeaway is Building relationships with trusted technology consultants. Technology can be complex and overwhelming for SMBs.  Find a consultant who understands both your business and technology to help you make informed decisions. They can recommend the right solutions without pressuring you to buy unnecessary products.

If you’ve enjoyed Shane Mishler’s episode discussing Operations and IT revisit some of the older episodes from the archives – check out episode  648: Building a Successful Agency and Establishing Long-Term Client Partnerships with David Reske or Episode 622: The art of traditional and Digital Marketing Strategies with my good friend Darren Anderson

Until next time, I’m Jeff Tomlin. Get out there and be awesome! 

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