Hi – I am the author of the popular SMB Consulting Best Practices book and I like to hold virtual book readings like this! BTW – my SBS 2008 book is now here!
In classic marketing, the term distribution doesn’t begin with the letter P, so some wise acre professor put a P in front of the word distribution in order to create the five Ps marketing model. The P is silent in this word.
In the case of SMB consulting, the distribution question equates to your work locations and the channel as a whole. I briefly discuss work locations followed by an exhaustive economic thesis on the SMB channel.
Perhaps you’re a good ol’ boy who simply wants to serve his local community well as an SMB consultant. This would fit the profile of two leading SBSers in the Carolinas whom I know. Or perhaps you fit the classic consulting mode of getting on a plane and traveling to client sites (this is my own SMB consulting business model in recent times).
In many ways, SMB consulting best lends itself to serving the customer of the community in which you live. SMB consulting relationships tend to be more personal, and because many engagements are smaller, it just makes sense for the customer to use a local resource. It’s why some of us are in SMB consulting: a lot less travel to make a living. As I’ve traveled the lands of the world preaching the SBS gospel, I’ve seen that most SMB consultants restrict their practices to a specific, local geographic area. Perhaps this would be a 100-mile radius, just enough distance to encompass your metropolitan statistical area, but still allow you to be home in time for dinner.
On the other hand, it’s been said you’re not a credible consultant until you’re at least 100+ miles from your home town. Because familiarity breeds contempt, in consulting you’ve often got to be the “pro from Dover,” and the out-of-town expert to get the customer’s attention. It’s a well-worn and time tested game in management and technology consulting.
To be honest, being the traveling consultant probably makes more sense in the “M” or medium space in SMB consulting. That’s because the gigs are large enough to justify travel and per-diem expenses. Small gigs often don’t have that much financial cushion to justify bringing in an outside subject-matter expert.
So just how far is far? It depends on your perspective. Try these two thoughts on for size.
• 300-mile radius. Perhaps you can expand your SMB consulting practice to the regional level to take into account a larger radius, but remain within a day’s drive of your home base: 300 miles. If you try this, depending on where you live, you just might be surprised what such mobility will do for your economic opportunities. For example, if you lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, in the Midwest heartland, a 300-mile radius (approximately) includes ten major USA cities as seen in the list below and Figure 5-3.
o Chicago, IL
o Detroit, MI (plus Grand Rapids, MI)
o Cleveland, OH o Cincinnati, OH o Saint Louis, MO o Milwaukee, WI o Columbus OH
o Louisville and Lexington, KY
o Nashville, TN o Pittsburgh, PA
Indianapolis is known for being at the “center of everything.” This is where the first SMB Nation conference was held in part because of its location (visit www.smbnation.com).
• World traveler. Most of Microsoft’s SMB sales are overseas in the international community, not in the USA domestic market. So one thing to consider is to possibly map your SMB efforts to mirror those of Microsoft. It’s the old “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” thought pattern. I’m in the process of doing exactly that, as I’m trying to drive new SMB-related business overseas in the SBS 2003 time frame.
Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation (www.smbnation.com)
MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)
PS – my Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is now here!