• United States

Small business lovefest

Oct 06, 20033 mins
IBMSmall and Medium BusinessVoIP

Leveraging your size to get the best deals.

Small businesses, do you feel the love? Big companies are after you, so embrace your smallness and use it as a lever to get more business, more services or grow bigger.

Talking to your bank? Ask what new small business services they have to nurture the “backbone of the American economy.” Lower loan rates are always welcome. Ask your suppliers, too. After all, if Dell and HP are chasing your dollars, other vendors are, too. Did you know IBM claims 20% of its business comes from small and midsize businesses?

During the recent rollout of its new QuickBooks Customer Management software, Intuit told me it has 6 million small business customers, half on Quicken (the personal product) and half on QuickBooks. Intuit’s customers average six employees, and nearly half (43%) don’t have a network, and only 13% of those use servers.

If that sounds like you, get ready for a visit from Microsoft. Expected to ship in October, the company’s Small Business Server 2003 (which I’m currently testing) has a slick, new interface geared to non-technical users and supports up to 75 clients, rather than the current version’s 50. Better, it costs only $600 for the server operating system and five clients.

Look for more good deals as big-name hardware vendors package SBS 2003 software with their servers for around $1,000. Dell and HP — both of humble start-up origins, themselves — have announced SBS 2003 bundles with their PowerEdge 400 SC server and ProLiant servers. The HP deal includes 0% financing as part of its new $750 million Smart Office program.

Even the government is joining the small business cheerleaders. According to the newly released Small Business Index report, small businesses create 75% of all new jobs, account for 99% of all employers and make up half our gross domestic product. While corporate America sheds jobs in tough times, small businesses create them.

A link to the full report is below, but the gist is that small businesses did best in 2000 (didn’t everyone?), have suffered with the downturn, leveled out and are now the recovery component most likely to pull the economy back up. The report recommends cuts in taxes and regulations on small businesses, and is pushing ways to make it easier for SMBs to sell to the government.

Perhaps the secret to letting small businesses power the recovery is even simpler: Just get out of the way and let them grow and develop. But cheaper computers, software and other tools will certainly help the cause.