Preface [SMB Consulting Best Practices book excerpt]

Greetings fellow earthings! I am Harry Brlesford, known as harrybbbb, and I am posting up a few pages per day fro the SMB Consulting Best Practices book. This is a way to assist you in making money with Windows Small Business Server (SBS).

Today I post up the book preface….we have only just begin!

 

enjoy…harrybbbb

Harry Brelsford, CEO at smb nation www.smbnation.com

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!

Preface

Welcome to SMB Consulting Best Practices, a book that addresses an important need in the small and medium business technology community: how to use your technical skill set to make good money and have fun as a successful SMB consultant. With a focus on best business practices, you will learn the all-important business side of consulting to balance out the technical “bits” side you’ve already mastered (and will read about in other books, such as Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices). For some readers of this book, being a successful SMB consultant means making a lot of money. Others are seeking professional fulfillment, client service opportunities, and perhaps self-employment. Some want it all. This book is for all parties.

What This Book Is About

This book focuses on the business side of being an SMB consultant and running a professional services practice. I use the popular finder (sales), minder (management), and grinder (work) model of professional services to present my SMB consulting wisdom. My words to you are based on my real-world experiences as a long-time and still-active SMB consultant. And as you’ll see when you turn the pages, I have interjected stories of other SMB consultants so you receive complete, well-rounded, and balanced business information for you to process.

More important, this book tells it like it is. I speak to the good, which is making six-figure incomes—without the nuisance of a boss and with the freedom of setting your own work schedule (within reason)—but I don’t shy away from the bad, such as forcing you to honestly assess your fitness as an SMB consultant and your ability to weather long hours and client tirades. The big dollars and big fun don’t come cheaply. I think you’ll find my honesty to be refreshing, and I hope it lends credibility to the words in this tome. While this book won’t always make you feel good about the world of SMB consulting, it will serve and protect you in your professional SMB consulting career.

Perhaps following the advice in this book will allow you to exceed the financial compensation numbers for IT professionals you read about in


different trade journals such as CRN and Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine. Or perhaps you may find this book leads you to a different decision—to keep your existing salaried staff job and not to endeavor to excel as an SMB consultant. Thus I think you’ll feel the money spent on this book to be well-allocated and returned several times over. I’d like everyone who buys the book to become a successful SMB consultant, but if that goal can’t be reached at this time, I’d like this book to prevent people from becoming an unsuccessful SMB consultant.

In this book, I never leave the practical and pragmatic real world of SMB consulting for the comfort of the training classroom for more than a paragraph. That would be inappropriate. But I’ve brought over one practice from my time as a college adjunct instructor and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) in the education realm: Brelsford’s Dozen. In nearly every chapter of this book, you will find a Brelsford’s Dozen. By consistently applying an easily understood framework to complex, real-world SMB consulting matters, you can see how the advice applies to you, the SMB consultant seeking to do a better job, without feeling like you’re being told to do what I say and do myself. A Brelsford’s Dozen is a way for me to give you a key checklist for the topic at hand, such as giving out one business card per week (or a dozen business cards per fiscal quarter). I believe you’ll find my insights via Brelsford’s Dozen to be both enlightening and enjoyable. I also throw in reader mail as part of Brelsford’s Mailbox to provide even more real-world perspective.

I also sprinkle in tidbits of technical information where appropriate. This book certainly isn’t a rewrite of the online help system or product resource manuals, a common reader complaint posted with online book resellers for technical books. Nor does the limited technical discussion in any way replace technical texts. Rather, I attempt to present billable opportunities to you. For example, Small Business Server installations are a tremendous SMB consulting opportunity. It is in that spirit I present targeted technical discussion.

Another interesting aspect to my take on this subject is my use of third-party applications. My belief is this book should mirror the real-world of SMB consulting as closely as possible. In order to accomplish that, I break away from the strict Microsoft mindset of using only Microsoft solutions. Instead, I


look at how I run my SMB consulting practice and with what software tools. I find I use software solutions from a wide range of independent software vendors (ISVs). That’s why you’ll find me singing the praises of GFI’s Network Security Scanner, ConnectWise PSA, QuickBooks, and Timeslips. I also think you’ll find between these covers a book with an appropriate Microsoft focus that honors the SMB consulting community we live in.

SMB consultants work in a competitive business environment. In many parts of this book I put on my MBA hat and present competent strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats analysis. For example, my competitive analysis speaks to the types of competitors you’ll likely encounter.

Who Should Read This Book

Several masters are served by this book, including:

·        Those considering an SMB consulting career — If you are a potential SMB consultant, you are clearly among the largest audience for this book. Hopefully, you’ll read this book with interest from cover to cover as you make the professional decision to become an SMB consultant. This book has been written as a one-stop resource for your occupational research undertaking.

·        Existing SMB consultants seeking higher professional perfor­mance levels — I have heard time and time again that while the SMB consulting field is a great profession, individual performances can be improved. If you are an existing SMB consultant who strives to deliver better customer service, to pick better clients, and to select better technology solutions, you will benefit from this book.

·        Consulting managers — Perhaps you’ve traded the TechNet techni­cal library for life behind the desk as an SMB consulting firm manager or owner. This book can improve your effectiveness in this role by not only speaking directly to you and your issues, but also by educating you on what your consulting staff does. When I incorpo­rated this thinking into my text, I drew on my time as an SMB consultant working for a regional accounting firm. If only I had had a book like this at the time to hand to the CPAs and say, “Read this— this is what I do,” my life would have been much more pleasant.


·        Salespeople — The members of the sales force are important people in many larger SMB consulting organizations. They get the work for SMB consultants. This book can make the lives of those in the professional services business development field much easier. By knowing more about what they’re selling (your SMB consulting services), the salespeople can be more successful. And that can only make you more successful. Take my friendly advice and buy an extra copy of this book to give to the salespeople at your consulting firm.

·        Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 fans — This book provides a sneak peek at Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 (SBS). It was written late in the development cycle of SBS 2003, and I was allowed to discuss it and display screenshots. If you’re still using SBS 2000, fear not, as much of the book speaks to both SBS 2000 and 2003.

·        Stakeholders: Spouses, partners, parents, and siblings

I certainly plan to give copies of this book to my wife, folks, broth­ers, sister, kids, and in-laws. Hopefully, the book can save me a lot of time having to explain what I do for a living and why I work long hours.

How This Book Is Organized

Simply stated, this book is organized into sections that honor the finder, minder, and grinder consulting practice business model.

1.                     Painting the SMB Consulting Picture

2.                     Finder

3.                     Minder

4.                     Grinder

5.         Appendixes

Part I: Painting the SMB Consulting Picture

Before getting into the details, I spend some time providing foundational knowledge about running a business, writing a business plan, and defining professional services consulting.


Part II: Finder

Clearly, you have to get the business in the door to stay in business, so accordingly the finder role is explored over several chapters. By the end of this part, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for business development.

Part III: Minder

You’ll find early on in your career that managing the business is as important as getting the work and doing the work. I speak to management issues in this part. And if management isn’t your gig, I also speak to outsourcing some business functions, such as accounting, so you can focus on your strengths and not become bogged down by your weaknesses.

Part IV: Grinder

“Ah, time for the good stuff,” as many SMB consultants have remarked to me. In this part of the book, I speak to providing appropriate solutions for your beloved clients. I cover a wide range of solutions, such as security consulting to business advisory services, but I primarily focus on Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003.

Appendixes

In the back part of this book, you’ll find many goodies, including lots of SMB consulting resources, a recap of the Brelsford’s Dozen presented in the book, and a quick-and-dirty SMB consulting success kit (trinkets of wisdom in a short form).

Acknowledgments

Even though I live on an island, it took a lot of people living on the mainland to make this book happen. All books are an exercise in synergy, with the sum of everyone’s contributions exceeding what any one person could accomplish.

First and foremost, I want to acknowledge my clients and fellow SMB consultants who have taught me more about business and technology than I can find words to express.

The team at Hara Publishing has kept me true and focused on getting this book out the door. A tip of the hat to Sheryn Hara, and fellow island dwellers Vicki McCown and Lisa Delaney.


Additionally, the good people at HP/Compaq who loaned me test servers need a serious round of applause from me. Here it is.

Finally, I acknowledge my modern influences in the business community who have gotten me where I am today, including Anton Krucky.

Forward!

I started this front matter with a Foreword and I end it with a Forward! It’s now time to read the book. Afterward, your next steps are to consider the following actions:

·           Go forth and be a successful SMB consultant! By the final pages of this book, you’ll be well equipped to go out and do it. Be the SMB consultant you’re capable of being.

·           Subscribe to my free Small Business Best Practices newsletter. This is how I effectively update this book and communicate with you on a biweekly basis. Subscribe by visiting my Web site:

www.nethealthmon.com

·           Read my other SMB and SBS books. Another next step would be to read some of my other books such as Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices (November 2003).

·           Attend SMB Nation. So you want to go to the next level and be a leader in the SMB consulting movement? Then attend this ongoing conference, which I produce. Visit www.smbnation.com

So it’s time to stop talking to you and let you read. All the best to you, mates!

Harry Brelsford

Author, Consultant, Trainer Bainbridge Island, WA, USA


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