Financial Commitment Needed to Attain SBSC title [Microsoft Small Business Specialist Primer book excerpt]

Howdy everyone out in Googleland! I am Harry Brelsford, the publisher of the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Primer title for the SBSC community. Each day I enjoy holding a virtual book reading – so here it is! Today we discuss the financial commitment you make to become a Small Business Specialist. Above and beyond the exam fee ($125), there is the need to purchase Action Pack.



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!

Financial Commitment

The Action Pack is a worldwide program that currently has an annual subscription fee of $299 USD annually (subject to change as of November 2007). Prices vary by country and according to monetary currency fluctuations, but one thing is clear worldwide: YOU MUST RENEW your Action Pack subscription to continue using the learning bits in your consulting business! Action Pack subscription prices are subject to change, so please check the Microsoft partner site for the most current pricing!

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So, why would you renew your Action Pack subscription in the second and later years if the learning bits are running just fine? Will the software police raid your domicile? (Action Pack Licensing Terms and Conditions violations are always subject to enforcement.) Will the bits burn up on the 3 66th day of use after your one-year licensing period expires? To answer these questions, check the Microsoft Action Pack program site as this team is always looking to update its enforcement effectiveness. So, why would you renew your subscription to Action Pack? I can think of two reasons:

·          Moral compass . I believe that people are basically good and act in a positive, altruistic manner. (That is a time-tested political science theorem from some Greek philosopher whose name escapes me.) I believe you’ll renew your Action Pack subscription simply because it’s the right thing to do.

·          Staying Current . In the body politic, there is a competing viewpoint that people act only in their best interest, and I’ll accommodate that line of thinking, too. As actor Michael Douglas uttered while walking on a beach in the popular late-1980s movie Wall Street, “Greed is good.” Greed will motivate you to renew your Action Pack subscription. Far be it from you to be seen using legacy Microsoft SMB product stack applications in your own consultant practice. Most embarrassing! More important, letting your Action Pack subscription lapse sets in motion the economic obsolescence of your knowledge-based technical professional skill set. You are no longer the most current SBSer and your days as a leader of the pack are numbered if you let yourself become an SMB technology dinosaur. Off with your head!

Your drive to stay current necessitates your Action Pack renewal!

You’ll receive communication from Microsoft approximately 30 days before your subscription is set to expire. If for some reason you become disenchanted with Action Pack after one year or any subsequent annual renewal period, and/ or you become otherwise disenfranchised from Microsoft and your Action Pack subscription lapses, then you must remove the learning bits provided by Action Pack from your technology infrastructure! Case closed.


Another “heavy” comment that must be conveyed concerns the use of your Action Pack learning bits. The fact of the matter is that your Action Pack learning bits may not be utilized for your customers; they are for your private and specific use to enjoy these Microsoft front office and back office applications. While I’m using simple Texas talk to convey a serious message, if somehow I am not getting through to you, kindly read the licensing agreement that accompanies your Action Pack subscription. I’ll meet you back right here in a few minutes!

Worldwide Program

Another sage observation I want to share with you concerns Action Pack content and its positioning as a worldwide product offering from Microsoft. In some ways, Microsoft could potentially offer you more for less with Action Pack if it were only a USA product SKU. What, how, and why, you ask? Let me explain. In working closely with the USA and worldwide Action Pack teams at Microsoft in Redmond (two different and distinct groups), I’ve often suggested the inclusion of certain interesting business applications, such as Small Business Financials, in the quarterly distributions. I was then made privy to some international relations insights that explain why some products don’t fit the Action Pack worldwide model. For example, the accounting applications offered via the Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) organization—while very desirable for

SMB consultants seeking to elevate their SMB consulting practices above and beyond mere infrastructure—must be tailored for each country. That is, the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) used in the USA don’t transfer easily or readily to foreign lands. Other countries have different accounting treatments, and Microsoft’s MBS products in the accounting realm can’t simply be dropped in a box and shipped out as part of a quarterly mailer. I completely understand this and can appreciate how such global dynamics affect the contents of Action Pack! And now you know the rest of the story on how, in part, applications are selected for inclusion in Action Pack.

Affinity and Adoption

I close this section with a discussion about Action Pack adoption rates and
affinity-based acceptance based on geographic locations. A couple of years

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ago, when delivering my worldwide SMB Nation Summit one-day workshops in over 40 cities and 25 countries annually, I surveyed attendees about Action Pack and also gave away Action Pack as a door prize. Needless to say, this workshop format provided impressive data about Action Pack.

·          High positive affinity . Worldwide Action Pack subscribers who attended my workshop LOVE ACTION PACK. It’s all about value. For example, in the USA, Microsoft delivers the SMB application space library as the Action Pack subscription, valued in excess of $25,000 USD, for just under $300 USD annually (you must renew annually to continue to use that software library and this price is subject to change). What’s not to love about that! Try this analogy on for size. In the U.S. Congress, an elected member who easily wins reelection is said to have a safe seat. The same could be said about Action Pack in the SMB consulting community—it has a safe seat.

·          USA traction, global need for action . Over 80 percent of USA SMB Nation Summit attendees happily subscribe to Action Pack. However, in the worldwide community, I found that, at best, only 20 percent of attendees subscribe to Action Pack. This is ironic because Microsoft’s SMB product stack, including Windows Small Business Server 2003, does so well worldwide and lags in the domestic USA market. Life sometimes delivers cruel punishment and unusual fates, and clearly this inverse performance relationship between Action Pack and the Microsoft SMB product stack is one of the paranormal phenomena I can’t explain.

IMPORTANT: Bottom line? An Action Pack subscription is a prereq­uisite for membership in the Small Business Specialist Community. Learn more about the Microsoft Action Pack at https:/ /partner.


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