Hello there – I am the author of the SMB Consulting Best Practices book and each day I like to hold a virtual book reading. Today the topic is local and regional markets for your services.
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 a spring conference in the New York City area each spring? Save the date for March 6-8, 2009 and watch “voice meet data” in the SMB space!
For most SMB consultants, all engagements are local. Your clients are the same people that you see at the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) meetings at your local school, in line at the movie house in your town, or in the case of Australia, sitting across the pub from ya. Local markets—which could be defined as those within a seventy-five -mile radius—are the best fit for SMB consultants. Why? Because relationships tend to run deeper in the SMB arena. When you keep your engagements local, the founder and business owner you deal with could very well be a long-time friend, not some stranger in a distant corporate head office, and maintaining that personal relationship serves both you and your client.
Necessity also causes SMB consultants to gravitate to keeping engagements local. SMB engagements aren’t typically rich enough to justify extensive travel and associated expenses, such as lodging. And some technology consultants go into SMB consulting specifically so they don’t have to travel, but can arrange their schedule to include attending their kids’ soccer games and so on.
If you envision a wider scope for your SMB consulting business, consider regional markets. “Regional” is an imprecise word, meaning different things to different people. In my world of the Pacific Northwest, I consider regional to be the four-state region of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska. Not surprisingly, many medium-sized firms that operate in the Pacific Northwest have a main office in Seattle with branch offices dispersed across these four states. If my business plan targets regional clients, I’ve now defined my market and what type of medium-sized firms might appeal to me.
A similar scenario applies for my friend Wayne Small in Sydney, NSW, Australia. Wayne, a Microsoft SBS MVP and leader of Correct Solutions (see more at www.sbsfaq.com), has some medium-sized clients that necessitate his boarding regional flights in Eastern Australia to deliver his services.