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.

Mr. Smith Rides the Rockies!

Mr. Smith Rides the Rockies!

A day doesn’t pass wherein some community member shares news on a more personal level. And it’s my honor and privilege to parrot out the highlights. In this case, it’s a successful mid-sized MSP (Initial.aec) from the Denver-area, Jack Smith, reporting he’s formed a team to raise charity funds in the coveted Ride The Rockies tour this summer. Smith’s feel good story is also a chance to herald in cycling season. While I’m a daily bike commuter to my start-up, Jack takes cycling in our community to a whole ‘nother level. He was on the post SMB Nation Fall conference ride in 2014 where we rode the 35-mile Chilly Hilly in the rain!

BTW – I’ve placed Jack’s story in the Start Over column. That’s because he’s always up to something new both personally and professionally. In the MSP-side, he has embraced Office 365 to fortify his thriving Autodesk practice.

“Below is what I have sent out previously for the ride and have gotten a great response thus far.” Smith said. “As a fellow cyclist, I was excited to let you know that I will be beating myself up on my vacation grinding up a few very big hills! I plan on tweeting from the road so make sure you are following me to witness my pain and successes!” Smith’s appetizing appeal is below. Please support Smith and his team as you are able.

Hi Everyone-
We are coming up on 4 weeks since I sent out the email below asking you to help me make the climb for kids. I am happy to say that thanks to the generosity of a few great people, we are currently at $2,025.00! This is fantastic, and I want to say thanks to those of you that have donated. We have been in training mode since I first sent this out and with the recent weather, it has forced us indoors onto the bicycle trainers and cycling videos in order to get our saddle time in. Way more fun outdoors, but good for us nonetheless. We have our first official meeting with Ride the Rockies on the 5th to learn more about what we have gotten ourselves into, and I can’t wait as I have quite a few questions. Questions like, will there be oxygen provided above 10,000’? Will they provide replacement muscles and certain body parts along the route? And the most important one, will someone wake me up from my exhaustion induced coma like sleep every morning? These are but a few and I am pretty sure that the answer to these questions will be a hard NO. Doesn’t hurt to ask!

Enough about me, let’s talk about you and how you can help us make the climb for kids. We are currently at 1/3 of our goal of $6,000.00. I am excited that we have come this far, but I would really love to see us hit at least $4,000.00 if not $6,000. I would encourage you to re-visit this link to check up on us and make a donation if possible. Again, I want to express my gratitude to everyone that contributes and to everyone that offers moral support as well. It will make the climb easier knowing that we have some great people supporting our efforts and the efforts of two great charities. I have included below the context of my original email for your reference.

Please click on the link below to visit our fundraising site:

Thanks again and look for an update in a few more weeks!

March 5, 2016:
As many of you know, I have shaved my head a few times to raise money for St. Baldrick’s. With your help, we were very successful in our efforts and as a bonus, I ended up with a permanent hair style! It feels good to know that every time I rub my bald head, that it was for a good cause. Maybe that’s why I keep it shaved, hmm.

Anyway, most of you may also know that I love to cycle, especially in the mountains. This year I have decided to bring these two passions together. I have organized a team of three to participate in this year’s Ride the Rockies event ( as team “bonk”. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it is used when you have completely exhausted your energy during a physical activity and you stop cold. This name was selected as an inside joke between me and my cousin, who ironically enough, is on the team. This is something we WILL NOT be doing during the ride.

I have selected two charities to benefit from our efforts this year. St. Baldrick’s ( and Special Olympics of Colorado ( I encourage you to visit their websites and read up on the fantastic things they are doing in the world.

The three of us on the team are not asking for sponsorship, we are asking for a donation and your moral support as we tackle the mountains and our own limitations. As you will read on our fundraising website, all three of us have been blessed with healthy children. My own daughters have always motivated me to try to help others that are not as fortunate and this is but one way to do this.

As I glide down and grind up the mountains, I will be thinking about all the kids that rely on these organizations, all of their struggles and successes and how they continue to grow and succeed. I will also be thinking of my own two girls and how blessed I am and how your donations and support will inspire me to push to the top of every mountain pass and to reflect on the opportunity I have been given to help others.

Please click on the link below to visit our fundraising site:

I appreciate anything you can give albeit money or moral support.

Jack R. Smith

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Visit today for massive discounts on road bikes, hybrid bikes & MTB. We offer cycling accessories at low prices. 0% Bike Finance... Read More
Friday, 13 January 2017 22:18
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Microsoft Partner Taps Power BI for SMB Market and Beyond

By: Barb Levisay, Owner, Marketing for Partners

Microsoft's Power BI Partner Showcase is a testament to the success of partners helping their clients, from enterprises to SMBs, realize the potential of data through analytics and visualization. For most SMB partners, however, experience and resource challenges put building a Power BI practice beyond their reach.  powerbi

But one of the showcase partners, RoseBud Technologies, has set its sights on taking Power BI to the SMB market -- and helping other partners do the same.

While RoseBud, a 10-person IT service provider based in Atlanta, may seem an unlikely Power BI advocate, it has deep roots in data. "A large part of the success of any partner is a result of the background their people bring to the equation," said Joe Treanor, president of RoseBud. "I spent time in banking when metrics and analytics were becoming the drivers in the industry. It gave me an understanding of the importance of making data useful."

Beginning with the self-service analytics released with Excel 2010, Treanor was intrigued with the practical application for RoseBud clients, predominantly small and midsize businesses. In 2013, RoseBud was an early adopter of Power BI, seeing the opportunity to support business intelligence (BI) without big infrastructure investment. 

Since that time, Treanor has seen a reluctance in partners to pursue the BI opportunity. "SMB partners face two major hurdles," Treanor explained. "The first is the experiential comfort with managing and directing business intelligence work. The second is where to find the people who can speak to clients and deliver the services." 

To solve the second challenge, RoseBud has established a relationship with Kennesaw State University's Coles College of Business. The college has a strong program that focuses on the practical business applications of quantitative analytics. KSU also offers a master's degree in applied statistics and more recently launched a Ph.D. program in Analytics and data science.

"Kennesaw is very much aligned with what we are doing," Treanor said. "They are training people who are comfortable holding a conversation about business and data analysis. They are developing data scientists for business, not just academia."

Just like most partners who are searching for their value-add in a cloud world, Treanor sees BI as a specialty that RoseBud can build on for the future. "It's a changing game. There is only so much business you can do with migrations," Treanor said. "We looked at what we could do with analytics. Microsoft is making very sophisticated enterprise-level capabilities available to the smallest businesses through subscriptions and tools. So we are helping our customers take advantage of Power BI, and we think it is just the beginning of a very big wave."

With Microsoft's heavy promotion of Power BI, RoseBud is seeing more proactive interest from customers. "There is more awareness through Office 365 and the infrastructure barriers are gone," Treanor said. "Many of the clients we talk to, even small business owners, understand the value of predictive and prescriptive analytics. They are looking beyond reporting to solving specific business challenges by using data."

Additional potential -- helping other partners who don't have the experience or resources to offer Power BI on their own -- is also developing for RoseBud. "A single partner can't be a generalist anymore," said Greg Treanor, vice president of RoseBud. "We're applying our experience and resources, becoming a go-to partner for Power BI. Partners can focus on their niche, work with us for Power BI and offer even more value to customers. They don't have to build the practice for themselves."


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Ken and Keith Redo with Channel EQ

Ken and Keith Redo with Channel EQ

It’s been too long since I caught up with Ken Thoreson and Keith Lubner. We’ve teamed in numerous initiatives over the years. I was pleasantly surprised to hear of their latest entrepreneurial endeavor, Channel EQ. Essentially Ken and Keith are pivoting a lifetime of sales, business and technology content into an Adaptive Partnering curriculum for channel organizations (vendors, distributors, etc.). It’s a smart move in a transformative time.

Let me put vendor enablement training in context. I speak with a lot of non-partisan, independent SMB channel thought leaders each month. This past week I had a confidential conversation with one well-known figure who offered that the population of resellers is declining even faster than predicted. Meanwhile the number of vendors is growing dramatically. All of this suggests that vendors need to be more efficient and effective in connecting with a contacting population. In other industries, you’d use predictive lead scoring to focus on the top converters. In the SMB channel, Channel EQ seeks to align, leverage, and optimize the four elements most critical to channel performance: Channel Partner (external), Channel Manager (internal), Sales, Service and Support (internal) and Customer (external).

So how do they do it? It’s a behavioral-based approach that focuses on the interpersonal skills of channel personnel. Without naming names, it’s long overdue as many channel leaders aren’t exactly known as nice people. It all comes down to people do business with people they like. Channel EQ hits it head-on.

The learning platform is delivered under the brand name Channel University with the tagline “Peak Channel Performance. Fast.” The delivery vehicles include:
• Self-directed online video-based modules and tutorials
• A mobile app for anywhere, anytime learning
• Live Virtual Classroom training programs facilitated by certified instructors
• Interactive and experiential classroom training programs

Concerns? Channel EQ, while having a unique approach, enters a crowded market with many players ranging from ChannelEyes to CompTIA. And don’t forget to add business coaches who burned out the MSP community and are now kissing vendor’s asses. I’ll keep you posted on how Ken and Keith do.

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Lily Kirby
Business progress depends towards the effectiveness and success due to the mutual coordination of the partners. The independent ch... Read More
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 03:16
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Start-Over: Rethinking Where You Work

Start-Over: Rethinking Where You Work

One year ago, SMB Nation reached the end of a five year commercial lease for office space. And it felt great. Still does. Why? Because in the mid-2000s, when SMB Nation grew out of the garage and dramatically increased its head count, the original office space we leased made sense from a prestige, ego and functional point of view. Much of our computing was still client-server based with Small Business Server 2003 (the gold standard in my opinion). Fast forward the move and two office moves later, letting our lease expire and having everyone work from home starting March 2015 felt like a natural act. We were “starting over” with respect to how we worked. And folks loved it: no commute, no make-up and more time to complete work that matters. We didn’t experience the loneliness highihglighted in the following New York Times article “Telecommuting Can Make the Office a Lonely Place, a Study Says” which start out: Ever since telecommuting became a viable option for a broad spectrum of workers, some companies have offered it as a tempting perk. Why not make workers happier by allowing them to spend more time with their families, avoid long commutes and exert more control over their schedules?

Read more here

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We should think about where we work and what is the our main purpose of life or target of life. Now in this article you told which... Read More
Sunday, 24 September 2017 07:17
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True That: HPE and March Madness!

True That: HPE and March Madness!

Lately a lot of people are asking me about the new Hewlett Packard(s). For the purposes of the SMB Nation community, we live in the world of HPE. I liken it to HP is STARTING OVER as HPE!

And it’s making a splash with its March Madness “Hello World” special offer. We’re glad to help as HP (now HPE) is a long-time friend of the family. It was there at the first SMB Nation conference in 2003 and beyond. The pic attached to this blog is from the video series “In The Trenches” produced by HP promoting SBS 2000 and its mobility features (watch it HERE). 

 Harrybbb in early HP SBS video

So with great pleasure – I’d like to invite you to join us the Thursday, March 17th at 12:00pm Noon Pacific (GMT-7). Sign up here

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It’s really appreciable to be helpful because it can help somebody who is confused and don’t know what to do but according to essa... Read More
Sunday, 04 December 2016 14:19
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