Forward! [SMB Consulting Best Practices excerpt]

Hi friends – I am having waayyyy toooo much fun this later summer out here on Bainridge! I will not start posting up a few pages a day from my SMB Consulting Best Practices book. So let me start at the beginning with the FOREWARD from Michael Vizard.

All goodness all the time….more tomorrow….



Harry Brelsford, CEO at smb nation

Microsoft Small Business Specialist SBSC, MBA, MCSE, MCT, MCP, CNE, CLSE, CNP

PS – did u know I host an annual conference in Seattle each october for SBSers and SMB consultants? This year we help launch SBS 2008 and Essential Business Server (EBS) between October 4-6!


To live free, make an impact, enjoy your work, and make a profit. Those are the primary life goals of most any SMB consultant you are likely to meet. The trick is that an SMB consultant can’t get too hung up on any one of those four issues, because the secret to happiness is to balance those often conflicting needs, rather than letting any one of them dominate at the expense of the other three.

Of course, this is all much easier said than done, so it takes an extraordinary individual to be a successful SMB consultant. Unlike their mercurial customers, the SMB entrepreneur needs to combine patience with business insight to help guide their customers through a labyrinth of technology choices that can easily aggravate a class of customers who are keenly aware “time is money.”

The simple truth is the SMB owner is the most challenging customer in the IT industry because, more often than not, their business can flourish or expire thanks to the right or wrong technology decision. Alas, nothing in this industry is ever as straightforward as it seems, so a nervous SMB owner who is typically worried about making payroll can easily be led astray. And once that happens, a torrent of frustration and recrimination is quickly unleashed squarely on the head of the SMB consultant.

All too frequently this leads to the tarring of all SMB consultants in the same way a few bad lawyers or journalists can cast aspersions on an entire profession. Of course, there are times when the misstep of a consultant does lead to some debacle, but the root cause of that disaster is usually ignorance rather than malfeasance. All told, the vast majority of SMB consultants are a credit to the industry.

Whether an SMB consultant created their practice as a deliberate act to advance their careers or as an unintended consequence derived from events beyond their control, everybody needs a helping hand. So we at CRN applaud the publishing of a book that seeks to increase the number of savvy SMB consultants in the world, which will reduce the number of failed IT projects and consulting practices while simultaneously increasing the value proposition of technology itself.

It’s important to remember that the technology industry as a whole would not exist as we know it today if it were not for the SMB consultants serving as its evangelists for countless products. More often than not, it is the SMB market leading the way in terms of bringing new technology innovations to market.

That becomes even more apparent when you consider the challenges of the SMB owner. With fewer resources and people, the SMB owner frequently needs to compete for business against larger rivals by being more adroit. And in the absence of larger rivals, there’s always the need to be more efficient, because the cardinal rule of business is “Revenue drives growth.”

The only way to achieve those twin goals is to reduce the steps it takes to execute a business process and increase revenue per employee. And the quickest way to do that is to maximize a technological edge before any one else does.

Of course, most SMB owners are not technological gurus. So they turn to trusted SMB consultants to get them through the all-too-often daunting tasks associated with investing in technology. For the industry as whole, this means the SMB consultant is the primary way the word gets out about which products work and which don’t. Without the guidance of the SMB consultant, billions of dollars spent on technology marketing would fall on the deaf ears of SMB owners too busy to appreciate the lasting impact any given technology can have on their business.

So here’s a salute to the SMB consultant. For the most part, they make a good living and enjoy being masters of their own domain. But more often than not, they are typically underappreciated and undervalued by vendors who are more focused on the name on the check than the actual person who got them the deal.

We can only hope that with the publishing of more books such as this one, it will become easier for a larger number of people to form their own SMB consulting practices. Lest we forget, it is the SMB consultant who truly forms the bulwark of this industry and, as such, we are invested in their success.

Yours very truly,

Michael Vizard,

Editor In Chief, CRN

Michael Vizard joined CMP Mediaπs CRN, the newsweekly for builders of technology solutions, as editor in chief in August 2002. In this role, Mr. Vizard is responsible for the strategic vision of the newsweekly, ensuring editorial coverage goals are met by evolving the reporting and editorial beats to accommodate readers’ information needs.

Mr. Vizard has more than 15 years of computer technology and publishing experience. In 2001 and 2002, Mr. Vizard was voted one of the Top 30 Most Influential Technology Journalists by Technology Marketing. He was also named one of the Top 15 media influencers in the trade press category. Prior to joining CRN, Mr. Vizard spent seven years as editor in chief of Info World Media Group, where he was responsible for managing strategic editorial partnerships, the day-to-day management of Info World’s editorial department, and leading the content of InfoWorld Online.

Prior to joining InfoWorld, Mr. Vizard had been an editor at PC Week, Computerworld, Digital Review, and ebn.

Mr. Vizard holds a degree in journalism from Boston University.


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