Organization of SMB Solution Providers Looks to Grow

The Mobilize SMB Private Services Network plans to expand to further help members manage and enhance their businesses.

A growing community of small and midsize business owners has no plans to slow down in 2007. Armed with a new Web-based membership portal, the leaders of the Mobilize SMB Private Services Network are hoping to expand the groups ranks in the new year.

"MSPSN provides the framework for the SMB solution provider community to communicate and collaborate, the training and guidance in mastering the MSP (managed services provider) business model, and the tools to manage and build their businesses," said Amy Luby, one of the groups founding members. "We provide business model training, sales support, marketing support, group buying power, fulfillment services and a community with which to work and grow."

Luby is CEO of Mobitech, an MSP based in Omaha, Neb. The organization, which companies must pay to join, has 179 registered members, according to its Web site.

By joining, companies gain access to private collaborative forums with other members, monthly "Webinars" hosted by SMB industry experts and other benefits. Andrew Harper, CIO of Gaeltek, in Manassas Park, Va., said the collaboration with other SMBs has already benefited his company, which was able to learn better ways to use the professional services automation tool Autotask.

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"The MSPSN program is going to widen the group that I can collaborate with and it is also going to bring together like-minded individuals who want their businesses to grow," Harper said. "With increasing competition for our clients, it is vital that a network like this exists."

"Autotask is a tremendous product and has so many capabilities, but by learning from Mobitech what they have implemented and why … I dont have to learn by trial and error—Mobitech has already done that and found what works—and more importantly, I can use the time to focus on my clients, generating revenue and developing opportunities," he said.

Calling the SMB community "fragmented," Luby said MSPSNs goals are twofold: to unite the SMB channel under one entity so SMBs can scale to compete without joining a franchise, and to give vendors a single point of contact from which to manage their SMB channels. Historically, she explained, becoming part of a franchise was the only real option small solution providers had to provide for scale. Many vendors are creating networks and communities for their partners, but no one is providing a truly comprehensive solution to meet the needs of SMB solution providers, she said.

"[Vendors] try to help their partners grow by providing sales training, product training, marketing training, etc., but they really can only invest so much in providing their partners with business model support because software or product development is what they do," Luby said. "We believe the answer to this problem is a Solution Provider lead effort to build a Global Community where we can share best practices, solutions, etc."

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