I went to an IT conference last week that was attended by mostly small business who provide IT services to other small businesses. Because of that, over half of the attendees were CEO’s or owners of their companies. In general, I found it really exciting to be among these business people and to be a part of their conversations. Specifically, I observed that most of their backgrounds were technical, people who quit their IT jobs to do it themselves. There was a lack of skills and experience with value selling, finance, operations, and marketing. Some had an interest to develop these more but most knew they had to but prefer to ignore it. This gave me encouragement that small business is an area of interest and an area that I can bring value to.
A general topic was that “money” has started to flow into this industry, which I think means Private Equity and some Venture Capital.
Another general topic of interest was these service companies becoming more formal in their finance and accounting. One concept that they are adopting is the role of the Service Manager. This is a P&L manager for a line of business for the company, generally defined as responsible for great customer experience, employee experience and gross profit for the line of business. It seems to be a more technical person in the role and more hands on.
There is also a constant reminder to show business value to customers rather than just being a technology provider. These are not business people and it is helpful to see that and see what kind of value I could bring to a small business in this space but also to small business in general.