SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

MSP Strategy Suggestion!


We are delighted by the strong reception we’ve enjoyed introducing the merger and acquisition conversation into the SMB Nation audience this past couple of months. Seems like the stars are aligned with key demographics represented in our recent 2016 Salary Survey. You are a mature audience and very quickly life is happening before your very eyes. So your needs are changing from Geek to Grandparent (okay – that’s a bit of a stretch but there is truth to humor). You proudly are approaching 20-years in the IT profession.


And you are consciously re-evaluating your life and business strategy. 

aug2016picnicsmall

At our 16th annual SMB Nation picnic this past week, M&A was a conversation amongst the MSPs!

This past week, our MSP M&A "Sell-side" (Part 2) webinar offered the following nuggets:

• Discover how to value your business
• Preparing for due diligence
• Creating the big notebook
• Approaching potential buyers
• Retaining experts (and avoiding business brokers)
• Managing expectation about the negotiating phase
• Separating heart from mind
• And much more…


Note you can watch the webinar replay here and scroll down to the Replay Webinar link for MSP M&A "Sell-side" (Part 2). More importantly, you can sign-up for this week’s “Free Consulting Hour: MSP M&A” where we will answer your specific questions here. No slide deck. No presentation. You’ll love it.

So exactly who are “we” and what are we doing? Tim Carlsen has hopped on board at SMB Nation to assist with us helping you in the M&A area. Tim’s investment and VC background is detailed here.

Tim Carlsent

Between our respective skills, we now offer an M&A advisory service to MSPs in the SMB community. We’re already assisting four clients and can only accommodate five more in 2016. Reach out to Tim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

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Harrybbb featured in New Book

It’s become fashionable for authors to crowdsource their books and I’m proud to have contributed to the newly released “Tips to Protect Your Business from Cybercrime” effort by Anita Campbell, the CEO of Small Business Trends.

First – you can download the eBook complimentary from this site andyou’ll find my dark-side contribution on page 31 where I speak about the lurking dangers of social engineering, which is both a security and technical topic. Catch my references to the central figure, Frank Abagnale, Jr. best known for his life story in the movie “Catch Me If You Can!” I saw Frank speak in the early 1990s in Seattle before he became famous and he’s not without controversy. Here is a former con artist profiting off his prior misdeeds. But it is a very important topic nonetheless.

Second – I consider this book a -Start Over- topic at SMB Nation. As we continue our 2016 editorial themes of either start-up or starting over, I see this book as your -cookbook- to reinvent yourself as a technology security sleuth. Its ben said a good consultant doesn’t know everything about an area, she just knows where to get the information. This book fills that void many of us have in security as we pivot to profitability as partners.

hb security tip book

Third – crowdsourced books such as this are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is a cheap trick for authors to outsource the heavy lifting and for contributors to get a low friction love tap. I have even seen such books where they print a unique cover for each contributor implying that each contributor wrote the entire book. This is really peeved Vlad Masek at Own Web Now in his Vladville blog where he really goes after self-published MSPs. However, crowdsourced books have an upside. In the case of Campbell’s effort herein, it provides diversity and richer content. More importantly, she has engaged many people I’ve never heard of so I feel like she has broken way beyond the “same old, same old” SMB partner crowd.

Download here.

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Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

Many consider this one of the best weekends of the year. A Monday holiday makes for extended merriment. I noticed commerce transactions and business activity starting to slow this past Thursday, as if one foot out the door.

Original Brexit

When we hosted our weekly webinar this past Thursday with TransVault, the speaker was Steve Dagless from London so there was the inevitable Brexit references. As part our Mastering the Migration series (you can watch the reply here), we talked about the UK in the first few moments and realized that America had undertaken the original Brexit exactly 240-years ago on July 4, 1776. Sometimes, like with many holidays, it’s easy to forget what it’s all about. In this case, it’s impendence from the England.

USA Start-up

Another twist to reflecting on the July 4th is this. America was a start-up! True that as we started with virtually nothing and have gone on to be one of the great powers in world history. A unicorn before it’s time! The result? An imperfect system of government that has created a wildly successful start-up environment for businesses with notable shout outs to Apple, Microsoft, Uber, Tesla and the list goes on and on.

Canada Day

Realizing not all our readers hale from the “states,” I wanted to also recognize our friends to the north in Canada. It celebrated it’s Canada Day a couple of days ago, July 1st. That holiday is a reverse Brexit. It’s that day an enactment combined Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a single empire indeed called Canada.

There you have it! Have a GREAT JULY 4th and we’ll see you back here next week for your SMB Sunday Paper. 

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Survey - What's your Brexit?

Survey - What's your Brexit?

I’m not going to define the EU or the UK “Brexit” as this trending topic is handled much better in other forums such as Real Clear Politics. Rather I want to use the Brexit concept as a teaching moment for our SMB Nation community.

Personal Story
As you know, so goes SMB tech, so goes SMB Nation. I underestimated the impact of the Windows Small Business Server end-of-life (EOL) announcement at this exact time three years ago (actually early July 2013). While we were already pivoting to other business models such as Office 365 Nation, the MSP exodus from the Microsoft Partner SBS community was stunning. It was nothing short of a niche collapse.

So my “BrelsfordExit” (get it) has been to look at other tech opportunities above and beyond Microsoft’s solutions including Big Data, Predictive Analytics and online sales tax calculation solutions. Tongue-in-cheek, I mocked the “Brexit” story earlier this week as I’ve traveled home to Alaska for a long weekend (that be my summer vacation) and recounted how Alaska was in fact its own sovereign territory at one point. Given the fierce independent mentality up here, it would NOT be hard to start a right-of-center secessionist movement. 

Your Story
Now let’s get serious. You are confronted with a plethora of transitional opportunities in the SMB tech space. For working in tech, you are surprisingly conservative and resist change. That’s likely the stubborn small business owner in you. But change has indeed arrived and on-prem servers aren’t what they used to be. So I’m interested in what’s your Brexit from SBS going to be? Has your Brexit already occurred?

Please complete our Brexit “Reinvention” Survey! If you could be so kind to answer just a few questions on this topic, we can better serve you sooner rather than later. Take the survey here

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Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

The headline says it all, Or does it? 

With Facebook accolades flowing today, June 19th, praising Fathers, it is a moment to reflect. The SMB Nation demographic is over 90% male and anecdotal evidence clearly suggests the majority are indeed fathers. We don’t survey on the later and we stopped surveying on the former years ago as it became an obvious statistic. 

A couple thoughts. Celebrate what you’ve been able to do, setting an example as an MSP, consultant, resellers and partner. Your kids are watching and its rewarding to see them move forward with your “table talk” in working in, running and in most cases, owning a small business. 

And a moment of applause for a SMB Nation family member. My niece Dr. Christa Brelsford has just given birth to her second son making husband Ethan a father twice over. Many readers will recall my nice niece as a well-known Haiti eaarthquake survivor (watch the NBC Today Show here) and the gold medalist in rock climbing (bouldering) at the World Championships in Spain, 2014. I can honestly say that Christa’s the classic case of starting over after adversity. Makes the demise of Small Business Server in 2013 look manageable, eh?

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