I feel awesome, however: Here there be truths to which thee might not find comfort in. I’ve said last year and I will say it again:
There is no such thing as an SBS community.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a handful of people who selflessly share their knowledge of SBS and (whether right or wrong) consider it their duty to talk about a product that has made great things possible for small business. There are also a handful of people that choose to organize monthly events in their local region, and given their absence the whole thing would and usually does fall apart. There are a handful of vendors who have also effectively gone after this “hidden secret of engaged leads” either for direct sales or as a way to keep their most vocal customers happy through a “community hugfest roadshow, thank you for your feedback.”
Now that you know what is there, allow me to clue you in what its not: SBS community is not a group of like minded individuals who have realized that they are stronger together and through sharing of knowhow and past experience manage to elevate all the participants businesses as a whole under the flag of “together we’re stronger, together we matter.”
What it really boils down to is a loose network of casual acquaintances (if you’re lucky, “friends”) who from time to time share items of common knowledge and keep every bit of competitive insight deep inside their pockets. It is a collection of at-best defunct IT shop owners who figured their only way to salvation is not by doing IT but by telling others how to do it. It is a pile of forums where a group of largely defeated people gets an outlet to moan about their troubles, provoke a response and still get a feeling of belonging, as if someone still cares about them. At its best and finest, it is a collection of defunct technicians stabbing in the dark for a business plan that promises not to be a failure, unlike everything else they have tried so far. There isn’t a whole lot of success, but there is a lot of hope…..
But while there isn’t much success to speak of, there is an opportunity. Oh, can you smell it? What’s that smell… Bullshit? No, but close. It’s ink, drying on the pages. It’s of plastic, swept through a credit card terminal. It’s of a cheap breakfast followed by a sales pitch pretending to be a conference. It’s of a way to make a ton of money without spending a ton on the marketing. It is of a way to convert your local influence over an independent group of resellers into a really cushy job as far away from the said group as possible.
And, in the crowning confirmation of all of the above, a flourescently fairy will get in front of the audience that paid $500 a ticket to hear shit it ought to know already and proclaim: “SBS community isn’t dead, it’s bigger than its ever been before!” now go pay my vendors!
So this is my final post of beating that mythical dead horse that is the SBS community. That dear friends is the sound of inevitability that the sooner you hear and accept the sooner you can focus on the things that can actually make a material impact on your life, business and career: that of building relationships with the decent people and thanking the folks that make you more successful, even if its their job to do so, not the smiling middlemen that try to give you a hug while they reach around for your wallet.
P.S. This is my last and final post about the supposed SBS community. Last night a little birdie forwarded me a pst of the discussion threads from a group I abandoned a long time ago as an irrelevant pursuit of the inevitable: that aside from maybe two dozen charismatic and energetic IT people with really good hearts and the willingness to teach it is just a fruitless enterprise of people trying to sell their stuff to one another or stand in the way of any bit of progress as a moral obstacle. Everything else just proves to be a marginal success until the main person realizes their efforts go to waste and they finally move on. The only thing left over is the bunch “despite all my rage I’m just an SBSer in a cage” that hasn’t realized all of this yet. Comments closed as it simply doesn’t matter what you think, it only matters that you accept it and find a positive way to continue instead of banging your head against the wall about why the community isn’t working the way you think it ought to.