Sunday, June 18, 2006

Change in the SMB Space - part 2

Changing Faces, Changing Challenges

Many things are not changing: For one, SBS 2003 continues to kick butt. More than it's share, to be honest. I was just talking with a client on Friday and we agreed: There is no greater value available to business owners today than SBS 2003. Period.

We'll have to see after June 30th who the new players are at Microsoft. Some people will get another year to work with other. Other folks are already moving to new positions. By the end of July we should know a little bit about who's who.

[Side Note: If you're going to the MS Intergalactic Partner Conference for the first time, it can seem a bit like a car sales lot. Everyone you meet says "I just changed jobs and I don't have any business cards. Here, let me write my email on this candy wrapper."]

Many old friends will stay. Some will move from one place to another. The solid rock of our community is the collection of user groups. They grow a little here and shrink a little there, but overall they grow larger and more numerous.

Several people act like Johnny and Jane Appleseed, creating new users groups wherever they go. If you're worried about how change at Microsoft will affect the community, your group, or your business, relax.

I think Microsoft will give the SMB space some significant resources for at least another year. It may not be focused like a laser beam, but it will be there. They've seen the numbers and they know how much money can be made on small business. When mid-market and enterprise businesses stopped spending, the SMB space kept chugging right along. But don't kid yourself. If the traditional market returns with a roar, Microsoft's attention will turn just as quickly.

Your Five Year Plan

Most of us, if we'll admit it, don't have a five-year plan. We should. We know we should. But we're trying to get through the day, the week, the month. But here's the deal with change.

Change is going to happen. Time is going to pass. You're going to change and your business is going to change. Think back five years ago. You probably got up in a different place, went to work in a different building, had different friends, and worked with different people. You certainly sold different software and hardware. Your relationship with Microsoft was different that it is today. You probably didn't belong to a user group, you'd never heard of SMB Nation or the SBS show. You'd probably never heard of any of the "well known" people in the SMB/SBS space.

It's not much of an exageration to say "everything" changed in the last five years. Guess what? The next five years aren't going to be any different. Change happens. Here's what a plan does for you. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to "hit" every goal exactly. But if you know where you want to go and have some idea of what you DO and DO NOT want out of life (and business), then you have a framework for interpretting change.

Instead of being bounced around like a pinball, you will be actively participating in the world of change. You can mold your environment and yourself as opportunities present themselves. And opportunities always present themselves. People come and go, software comes and goes, and the business environment keeps "evolving."

If you have a vision about the future -- a five-year plan -- you can interpret change in light of that plan. You can share your plan with people. They may be suspicious or not very excited. But at least they'll know where you're going. And you'll be surprised at how willing people are to help you out, if they know what you want.

Where will you be five years from now? How different will that be if your favorite contact at Microsoft or SMB Nation is no longer there? I'm guessing you'll be just fine. In fact, I'm guessing you'll thrive!

Plan to Thrive. Because you can't thrive without a plan.

And to get started, be prepared for some changes between now and the end of the year.

I welcome your feedback.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:57 PM

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