Auctioning yourself as an SMB technology consultant (part III) [SMB Consulting Best Practices book]

Folks – harrybbb here – author of the above titled and its Thanksgiving! SO I am posting up a passage as a virtual book reading! These are my final words on auctioning thyself as a small business technology consultant!

So, let’s get the show on the road and show off an example of posting an eBay listing.

1.      You will first launch a browser and click over to the eBay URL of If you like, search on the term “Small Business Server” or something similar in the What are you looking for? field and investigate if other SMB consultants are auctioning a similar solution. Look at what they offer and what they charge to help you decied on how to package yourself.

2.      Click the Sell button.

3.         First, click the Register button under the New to eBay area. Complete the eBay registration process.

4.         Create a seller’s account by clicking the Create a seller’s account link. You will need this to become a seller on eBay.

BEST PRACTICE: One consideration in working with online auc­tion sites like eBay is your track record and reputation, much like SMB consulting. You could even extend that thinking further to read that you’re only as good as your last transaction. eBay uses a rating system where purchasers of your services are asked to rate you based on a scale that includes positive, neutral, and negative. Potential purchasers look at your ratings to decide whether you are fit to conduct business with.

It behooves you to take some time to build up your positive eBay ratings so that you can be a credible seller of an SMB technology solutions, such as a complete SBS package. I’d recommend you start small and sell a few things on eBay and “get your ratings up.” Interestingly, if you sell numerous small items, such as books, and build up high ratings, the eBay system doesn’t readily display the comparative value for which those ratings apply. That is, you could sell a bushel of cheap books, build up your positive ratings and then go for the big banana and list a complete SMB technology solutions based on SBS, as you will do in this example.

Taking the above steps is a legitimate way to package yourself so you can successfully present yourself and sell your SMB consult­ing solution on eBay. FYI, and for your use as a reference point, my eBay ratings are shown in Figure 4-4.

Figure 4-4:

I’ve used the individual sale of my books to build my eBay ratings so I can credibly sell increasingly larger items on eBay. This is facilitated by accruing positive buyer ratings.

One last thought. A real positive about the eBay rating system is that you need to keep your rating current. As you can see in the above figure, ratings effectively expire. This is a positive step, be­cause sometimes a legitimate seller from the past has somehow become a corrupted and morally bankrupt soul. The eBay rating system will reflect that with its emphasis on the here and now.

5. You are now ready to create an item for sale, in this case, an SMB

solution based on SBS. Log in by putting your account name in the

eBay User ID field and your password in the Password field. Click

the Sign In button.

6.                   On the Sell Your Item — Choose Selling Format screen, select Sell item at online Auction and click Continue.

BEST PRACTICE: You might consider selling at a fixed price with no bidding if that better fits your business model. Perhaps you’ve defined your SMB solution and you are interested in providing it for a fair price, no more and no less. The choice is yours.

7.                   On the Sell Your Item: Select Category, I recommend you select a category close to the following: Computers & Office Products -> Services -> Other. Do not select a second category. Click Continue.

BEST PRACTICE: Two thoughts about eBay categories. The first category is free on eBay, but to add multiple categories costs a nominal charge, something like 20 cents each. Also, I’ve found categories aren’t really very useful, as people I’ve conducted SBS business with simply search on terms like “Small Business Server.” Keyword searches appear to be more effective in this realm on eBay.

8. You will complete the Sell Your Item: Describe Your Item screen. Type Complete Small Business Server Solution in the Item title field. Complete the Description field with the following entry and confirm by viewing Figure 2-5. Click Continue.

BEST PRACTICE: Consider typing out your description in Microsoft Word first so you can spell-check your document. The Description field on the eBay page does not have spell-check available. After creating the description in Word, simply paste your perfect de­scription in the Description field.

Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) consultant offers complete, turn-key SBS solution including:

·  Microsoft Small Business Server 2000 (5-user CAL) (NEW, UNUSED)

·  HP ProLiant ML350 with Intel Xeon processor (2.4 MHZ), 512MB RAM, internal dual-Wide Ultra3 SCSI adapter, two 36GB hard disks

(mirrored), two network adapter cards, 2 0/40GB DAT drive plus one DAT backup tape, 15″ color monitor, standard three-year HP warranty. (NEW, UNUSED)

·    Three days on-site installation and deployment service by skilled, expert Small Business Server consultant.

·    One-month of remote and telephone-based SBS-specific deployment support. This includes one month of network monitoring. Future and additional work as agreed by all parties. Service limited to specific SBS deployment issues (not line-of-business applications, database creation or maintenance, or end-user support issues on desktop applications or operating systems, etc.).

Note: Shipping and handling charges calculated after bidding and will constitute the following charges:

·         airfare, hotel and per diem for consultant to travel to customer site to complete on-site installation work.

·         actual shipping charges for hardware and software to customer site.

These shipping and handling charges will vary by customer location. SBS consultant located in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Note: Please e-mail if you have questions about this solution. Seller happy to answer all questions promptly and in detail.


Figure 4-5:

This is a key step to be taken seriously-describing your SMB solution. Take your time here and use compelling marketing language.

BEST PRACTICE: Not to jump the gun on my hands-on “grinder” topics later in the book, such as how to deploy SBS, I do need to introduce a few granular items in the example herein. For example, to determine what server to include in my SBS turn-key solution on eBay, I visited and specified a suitable SMB server solution. To be honest, this eBay example is best viewed as infor­mation for the moment, so please bookmark/dog-ear this page and return to it after you’ve completely read this book and you’re ready to post a “complete SMB solution” on eBay for bidding!

And as you can see in Figure 4-6, I’ve specified a Microsoft Small Business Server 2000 machine for the HP ProLiant ML350 server.

Figure 4-6:

Select a server machine that you trust to be part of your solution. Because you are offering your turn-key solution on a fixed bid basis, you should select a server machine that you know will work well. I only select name-brand manufacturers such as HP for that very reason. I can’t afford to troubleshoot server-side hardware when working under fixed bid!

9. On the Sell Your Item: Provide Pictures and Item Details page, complete the following fields show in Table 4-2. (Note that I’ve left some fields found on the Web page intentionally blank as you won’t use these fields.) Your efforts should appear similar to Figure 4-7. After completing, click Continue.

Table 4-2
Completing Item Details





7 days

Start Time

Start listing when submitted (free)



Starting price

$10,000 (note that I’ve provided this value as an example, but you will need to calcu­late the starting price for your own solution)

Buy It Now price

$15,000 (again, input a value that makes sense for you)


Input your location information (e.g., Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA)


I’d recommend you consider uploading your photo

Free Page Counter

Green LED (this allows you to see how many people have visited your item page)



Figure 4-7:

The Sell Your Item: Describe Your Item page is step 2 of 5 to list your SBS solution on eBay.

10. Complete the Sell Your Item: Enter Payment & Shipping informa­tion screen. For this example, I’ve selected PayPal as my payment approach, that the buyer will pay the shipping costs, and that I’ll provide information on the shipping costs later. Under the Payment instructions area, I repeated the shipping instructions that I initially posted on the page in Step 8 where I described the item. In the Ship­to-locations section, I selected Will ship to the United States and the following: Canada. You may select the geographic location(s) of your choice. You may elect your own escrow terms at the bottom of this page. Your screen should look similar to Figure 4-8. Click Continue.

Figure 4-8:

Carefully review and complete the payment and shipping information.

BEST PRACTICE: If you haven’t set up a PayPal account, you will need to do so at this time by clicking the Learn more about PayPal link. I found creating a PayPal account to take about 30 minutes because I had to find some financial information from my account­ing records that had been requested.

11. This next step is important. Carefully review the Sell Your Item: Review & Submit Listing page. Once you confirm all the informa­tion is correct, click the Submit Listing button. Your results should look similar to Figure 4-9.

Figure 4-9:

You’re almost there! After this step, your listing will be posted and you, an SMB consultant, will have a listing on eBay for your complete SBS solution.

BEST PRACTICE: Be advised that eBay has a listing fee. This is found in Step 2: Review the fees section. To be honest, the fee is modest and acceptable (it is a total of $3.35 in the above example). Nonetheless, the fee must be accounted for as a sales expense in your SMB consulting practice, an accounting concept that will be explored in the Minder section of this book.

12. The Sell Your Item: Congratulations screen will appear. Review and observe your Item # and URL. Click the URL link to view the item page (it should look similar to Figure 4-10).

Figure 4-10:

It’s live — your listing for the “Complete Small Business Server Solution.”


Finally, to see your listing listed with all Small Business Server-related listings, simply click the Search button and type Small Business Server in the Search (required) field. The results should look similar to Figure 4-11.

Figure 4-11:

When you post your own Small Business Server solution, it’ll be listed similar to the one added in this example.


Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation (

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

PS – did you know my Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is almost here? Yes!


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