Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The #1 Best Decision I've Made In My Business

Looking back on the Five Best Decisions I've Made In My Business over the last fifteen years . . .

The Five Best Decisions I've Made In My Business: #5: Zenith Infotech and RMM tools generally.

The Five Best Decisions I've Made In My Business: #4: Autotask and PSA systems generally.

The Five Best Decisions I've Made In My Business: #3: Aligning My Business With Microsoft.

The Five Best Decisions I've Made In My Business: #2: Robin Robins and the Technology Marketing Toolkit.

In the last post I mentioned that Decision #1 is clearly ahead of #2. And then I raved on and on about #2. What's #1? What is the best decision I've ever made in my SMB Consulting practice over the last fifteen years?

#1 Best Decision I've Made In My Business: Working With Harry Brelsford and SMB Nation

Again, my role in the community is a little different from most people. In addition to running an SMB Consulting practice, I write books, do some trainings, etc. I love being in and around this community. I love being on the stage and in the audience. And in the hallway. And occasionally in the bar! I LOVE this community.

And in my opinion the entire SMB Consulting Community exists because of the efforts of Harry Brelsford. He was working to create groups and connections for at least five years before anyone heard of him. I own books he wrote so long ago he's probably forgot about them!

But more to the point of why this connection has been good for my business:

- I literally give HarryB all of the credit for starting the SMB User Groups, for creating a way for them to connect with each other online (through Yahoo Groups), and creating a conference specifically for the SMB consultant (SMB Nation).

Many people helped out. Hundreds. Thousands. They started groups, joined groups, engaged vendors, held events, organized meetings, spread the word, and so forth. But Harry was the catalyst and this community truly owes him its very existence.

- The best book Harry ever wrote is SMB Consulting Best Practices - a great guide to SMB consulting, business in general, and the realities of surviving in this industry. All around a great book. My copy is COVERED with notes. I still go back to this book from time to time.

- SMB Nation. Duh. The A-Number One conference for the SMB space. I suspect that this conference, its growth and success, have played a major role in helping Microsoft, HP, and many other vendors understand the power and financial impact of the SMB consulting community.

SMB Nation is an amazing resource for consultants who want to learn more about their own business, get new ideas, find out about products, and generally step up to the next level in their business. It is the big gathering place every year for "everyone" in the SMB space. In addition, it is by far the biggest gathering of vendors focused squarely on the SMB space.

SMB Nation is the watering hole for our industry. It is our Mecca. And while you might not make it every year, you need to attend as often as possible. The SMB Nation fall conference is my annual pilgrimage to see what my company's future looks like. For years we have taken multiple people. This year I think there will be three of us.

- SMB Nation Publishing. I don't know if there's a more formal name for it. But over the years, I have been blessed to be involved with Harry on the "publishing" side, which is really the content-creation side. When I published my first book - The Network Documentation Workbook - Harry agreed to distribute it.

That led to many sales. It led to my first appearance at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. It led to an SMB Nation pre-day event, which led to all other pre-day events. Then I wrote a book for Harry for a special project (The SAN Primer for SMB. And that led to a little tour.

And that led to teaching Microsoft Hands-On Labs for the SBSC training program.

And so forth and so on.

In The Big Picture, every business transaction I've had with Harry Brelsford has been good. Most have been profitable. Harry is extremely honest and fast-moving. So he's sometimes hard to catch up with. But we've always treated each other fairly.

We've visited each other's houses, met each other's families, and connected across several continents. I've done sub-contract work for Harry in several other countries. Not with a long contract. But with a phone call and a verbal agreement. We make things work because we "click" on the business side and we trust each other.

Perhaps the best thing about my ongoing relationship with Harry and SMB Nation is that I know we'll do more fun things together in the future. I know I'll see him in Seattle, Las Vegas, New York, London, Amsterdam, Prague, Atlanta, and many other places.

I don't think I could have planned all the great adventures and successes I've had with Harry Brelsford, but I'm sure glad I had them.

- - - - -


In the big picture, Harry Brelsford and SMB Nation have improved my business directly through education and opportunities; they've improved my business indirectly by creating a much more professional atmosphere for the SMB Consultant, and being a driving force in the professionalization of our industry; and they've improved my business personally by my association and friendship with Harry.

There are many great people in this community we call the SMB Space. Hundreds. Thousands of great people. And I love travelling, meeting people, and sharing ideas (and beer). But number one on that list for me will always be Harry Brelsford. When I look back on the handful of people who have most profoundly affected my life, Harry Brelsford will be on that list.

Thanks, Harry, for everything you do. (Except wearing spandex. Thanks for everything except that.)

Comments welcome.


1 comment:

  1. Have to agree wholeheartedly Karl. It's the #1 thing in my business as well. I went to the first SMB Nation in Indy (and 4 after that) to see what this whole SMB consulting thing was about. With the friends I got to know there I started my business and the local SBS User Group. Harry's MCSE consulting book was what led me to start my business and attend that first conference on my own dime and vacation time at my old job. Kudos to Harry and your post.

    Tavis Patterson
    TAZ Networks
    Network Support Ann Arbor Michigan


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