Small business is where the real business is

Last week, I was fortunate enough to speak to integrators and resellers at DTR Business Systems’ annual conference about what’s new IT and business opportunities. What I heard, loud and clear, was that small business is where the real business is.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to speak to integrators and resellers at DTR Business Systems’ annual reseller conference about what’s new and happening in technology and business opportunities. I hope they got something out of my speech, because I certainly got something from them. What I heard, loud and clear, was that small business is where the real business is.

Oh, none of them would mind in the least getting a $10 million contract, but it’s the five- and low six-figure contracts that keep food on their families’ plates. For them, small business is the only business in town. The old saying "keep it simple, stupid" (KISS) is always good to keep in mind, but these guys have figured out that "keep it small, stupid" also makes a lot of sense.

Is small business where the real business is?YES

All too often, integrators and xSPs get so wrapped up in landing the fat contract that they collapse when they don’t score the game-winning home run. In baseball, hall-of-famer Earl Weaver, manager for the Baltimore Orioles, based his entire theory of winning around the idea of the "big inning": Instead of constantly trying for small advantages, he put his faith in heavy hitters smashing home runs in a single, decisive inning. With the right people, that’s great … for baseball.

In the technology business, however, you can’t count on big wins. Instead, if you want to win like these guys have, you need to focus on doing the small things right for small customers.

So what are these guys doing that’s so hot, anyway? I’ll tell you: When it seems like every news story is about the latest layoff or bankruptcy, these people are staying in business.

Keeping a small business winning is hard. Four out of every five fail within their first five years. Most small integrators, though, have been in business for more than a decade.

How do they do it? By concentrating on what they do well, and doing it superbly. Case in point: Most of these folks work in vertical markets and use Caldera, formerly SCO, OpenServer for their operating system foundation. Is it hot? No. Is it sexy? No. Is it going to be featured in an IPO? No. Does it give small-business customers what they need? Yes!

Small-business customers don’t need the latest release of Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. What they need is rock-solid solutions that answer today’s problems today. And that’s what these integrators give them.

When these professionals think of expanding their service offerings, they don’t think of grabbing for the next brass ring of XML development or the ASP model. Instead, they think of adding on a service that their existing customer base could use today or tomorrow. They figure out how to build their business not by looking at what the next hot technology is or where a quick cash hit could be made, but by focusing on the needs of small-business customers.

Everyone says it. They deliver it.