Hiya folks – I am the author of the SMB Consulting Best PRactices book and I like to hold virtual book readings! So this is a subject near and dear to my heart: areas of economic demand! enjoy the reading!
Areas of economic demand
The economic demand discussion occurs at the following five levels: general, specific, macro, micro, and countercyclical. Remember that demand, as viewed by economists, concerns the wants and needs of rational purchasers.
Perhaps your path into SMB consulting is the following well-worn trail: unemployment. Many SMB consultants have been laid off from declining industries such as dot-com, logging, fishing, and mining. Perhaps you’ve heard it before (and you’ll hear it again): a consultant is really an unemployed professional otherwise seeking a job. Welcome to one form of the SMB consulting club.
When asked to advise young’uns, such as high school graduates as part of a graduation commencement address, I tell them to avoid economic sectors that are in fundamental decline and pursue career opportunities in economic sectors that are expanding. This is common sense, but sometimes people need to sharpen their common sense skills.
Just in case you don’t get the point, another take on economic sector analysis
is the following. Suppose you come from a long line of family farmers in the heartland of America (or your respective country). Today, you might have to question the viability of family farming as the highest and best use of your working years. History, emotion, and family pressure may try to keep you working the farm and deprive the world of your SMB consulting skill set, but you must ask yourself if that is that the most rational decision you could make. The point is that no one individual can swim against the current of economic sector decline. Better you leave emotion behind and go with the flow to participate in an expanding economic sector, such as the SMB technology community.
If you’re reading this, I assume you’ve made the rational economic decision to become an SMB consultant. Now you need to hone in on areas of demand that will potentially provide you the greatest return for your time and effort. In economics, this is called being efficient. For SMB consultants, there are numerous opportunities on which to capitalize by being an efficient service provider. In fact, SBS is now designed with SMB consultant efficiency in mind. Witness the efficient setup process that makes deployment of SBS a breeze compared to earlier SBS versions.
Demand for specific SMB consulting skills is often a function of how “bits” are being used as part of an overall business technology solution. For example, just about every business uses e-mail, and among e-mail users, Microsoft Exchange has established a dominant position. This translates into high demand for Microsoft Exchange skills in the SMB area. However, I’d temper your enthusiasm with two small doses of reality. First, many of your competitors know of the demand for Microsoft Exchange skills, so there is potentially a greater supply of service providers with whom you will have to compete. This includes our unemployed enterprise brethren who are butting into the SMB space to pick up a paycheck and will work with Microsoft Exchange on a standalone server or as part of our beloved SBS. As promised, look for more on the “bits” side of specific niche SMB consulting deliverables in the Grinder section of this book.
Economies vary by region. For example, during the late 1990s, the general economic boom in the United States wasn’t evenly distributed. While many
regions did well, some did not. Cities that experienced plant closings during that time had people wondering aloud, “What boom?” The same phenomenon occurred in certain regions in the early part of this century, with Seattle and San Francisco down in the doldrums, but some other regions doing pretty well.
Each and every day you’ve likely seen the macro economy at work right in front of your eyes. You’ve seen newly moneyed professionals, many from technology fields, driving late-model foreign cars. That’s a picture that was painted as the technology consulting lifestyle in the late 1990s. Granted, that picture has been repainted in recent times to reflect a massive technology recession, but the long-term fundamentals are strong. In fact, it’s been said on CBSMarketwatch (see Figure 5-4 below), Motley Fool, and other financial Web sites that technology led us into this recession and it’s what will lead us out of it! Keep the faith.
The markets have been bullish on the ability of technology to lead the US out of the early 21st century recession.
Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation
MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)