Rural vs Urban SMB technology consulting practices – which do you perfer?

Hiya folks – harryb here – author of the SMB Consulting Best Practices book. I am delighted to hold this virtual book reading wherein I post up a passage 🙂

Rural vs. urban

It’s a debate as old as the family farm in America, where sons and daughters often head off for the big cities. It’s being argued in Australia, where people leave the outback for Sydney’s urban opportunities. This debate is rural versus urban lifestyles. Here are a few observations.

·         Rural fits the SMB foot print. When you step back and think about it, rural territories are prime for SMB solutions. That’s because there are few enterprises in rural regions and the business community is nearly all SMB.

·         Urban has SMB too! Of course there are SMB entities in urban areas, and many SMB consultants focused only on urban areas do very well.

·         SMB consulting provides a way to live the rural lifestyle. Some people, fed up with urban stresses such as traffic, seek the good life in the country. Whereas your hardcore enterprise-level clustering infrastructure skills might not play well out on the farm, SBS and other Microsoft SMB solutions will. That is, you could make a living in the woods as an SMB consultant and enjoy what you believe might be a higher quality of life. Maybe you’ve always wanted to live at a ski resort on a professional’s salary level!

·         Tertiary markets have worked wonders for WalMart and others. Firms such as WalMart have made it part of their respective business models to locate and thrive in rural areas. Remember that rural doesn’t necessarily mean poor. If it works for WalMart, it works for me!

·         Microsoft Big Day got it right. Microsoft’s SMB seminar series for customers called “Big Day” and its TS2 events for consultants are focused more on rural communities than urban for a good reason: SMB is most at home in rural areas.

·         An article by Keith Girard on CBSMarketWatch (November 19, 2002) cast an interesting perspective on rural markets. Keith reported that, based on census data, he found America is still a country of small communities served by small businesses. There are just over 36,000 towns incorporated within the USA, of which 90 percent have

fewer than 10,000 residents and 51 percent had fewer than 1,000 residents.

·         Other business strategies I’ve seen play out in rural areas include Gateway’s Country Store concept located in rural areas and the ITEC technology trade show series in the USA that made a point of visiting more rural communities than urban.

·         Finally, rural often offers the opportunity to be a king-maker. If you’re the only SBS expert for 100 miles, you’ve got quite a captive market!

So why am I so partial to rural even though I’m willing to admit that urban areas also offer tremendous SMB consulting opportunities? First, I’ve really enjoyed the reception by folks in rural regions who have a huge hunger for technology knowledge and solutions. Second, I think many people only assume that they can make a great living in the big city and never give rural markets a second hard look.


Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation (

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

PS – my Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is now here!


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