Monday, October 6, 2008

SMBNation 2008 – Day 2

Location: Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

Weather: Wintery

 

Upon arriving this morning attendees discovered that “breakfast” was available in the vendor’s hall not out in the meal tent as yesterday. We also found that the selection was limited to a few pastries, bread to toast, coffee and juice. Probably worst of all there was nothing to sit down on or stand around. This meant we all had to crowd around garbage bins and other flat surfaces as well consumed our meal. My conversations with other attendees reinforced my feeling that this was indeed very poor. Many also told me that this was going to be their last conference as the main thing they came for was the networking but even that didn’t seem to be provided for now. So, if anyone from SMBNation is out there I would suggest that having a good breakfast spread is very important to attendees and if it ain’t done right attendees are going to bitch about it all day!

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This morning kicked off with a session from Trend Micro about their security offering. Have to admit that I had heard it before and was a little distracted because the wifi in the hotel last night wasn’t working. That was a problem simply because all there appears to be on the TV every time I turn it on is a commercial and I’d like to be able to do something before going to bed!

 

After yesterday’s disappointment with the technical tracks I decided that I’d try attending the business track today. This kicked off with Red Ocean/Blue Ocean by Henry Craven (Australian MVP). It was based on the idea that it doesn’t make sense to try and compete in an already cut throat and saturated market (Red Ocean), you need to perform some systematic analysis of your business and work out where the opportunities are that provide growth without competition (Blue Ocean). This does make a lot of sense in the current context of the changing face of the SMB IT Market.

 

Next up was – Own your business don’t let it own you by George Sierchio. A very practical common sense, down to earth assessment of whether you should be in running a business or working for some else. This stuff always sounds very basic but in many cases it is too easy to overlook. Things like measuring what you do and the fact that you as a person are the average of your surroundings. This is simple terms means that if you want to be successful you need to hang around with people more successful than you, likewise if you want to improve your golf don’t play with people who you can beat, play with people who are better than you. Again, some very good material was presented here and I got real value from attending.

 

After this was – Total small business management using OneNote 2007 by Todd Colbeck. This session was easily the best of the day for me. Even though I have used OneNote, I had my eyes opened the possibilities it provides when applied to clients to better help them improve their productivity. I have a much greater respect for the potential of OneNote now and have some great ideas for building a revenue stream around its implementation, especially when teamed with the addition of Sharepoint.

 

Lastly was – Proven steps to get your marketing in shape by Derek Brown. Although Derek hadn’t been told that the session was scheduled to run for 90 minutes his presentation was excellent and provided some real value for me. Some of his experience in email campaigns and web site usage I can see having direct application to my business. Now because Derek hadn’t planned for the full time he was allocated Todd Colbeck from the previous OneNote session stepped in to ‘pinch hit’ (see my American is improving) and discussed the development of a referral program. The input from the audience was also golden and I came away with a swag of information about how to better market my business.

 

So in summary, was today worthwhile? – You Bet! Was it better than yesterday? – You Bet! Now I’m sure that those who attended the technical sessions would probably have said the same thing. This is the great thing about SMBNation, it isn’t totally technically focused and it provides the resources for people to learn more about improving their business, their skills or a combination of both. Today I walked away with some real value that I will definitely implement in my business and this more than made up for the poor start (i.e. breakfast).

 

So tomorrow is my turn on the big stage. Wish me luck.