This week, Microsoft launched Small Business +, a collection of training and support resources aimed specifically at small-business owners. Some of the resources are free, although live small-business support is available via three different subscription plans.
It's appropriate for software companies to offer services that help their small-business customers do their jobs. Most small businesses operate like a weird combination of a consumer and a big business, and neither general consumer tech support nor high-priced corporate-style help desks are appropriate for them. Small businesspeople--you know who you are--need advice and help that focuses on the business first and technology second.
It's hard, though, for a software company to keep the focus on business. For example, you might think a Webcast session entitled, "How to become a forward-thinking business," would be about business planning and ideas for small business. But the subtitle of the session betrays a strongly tech-focused agenda: "A server can help you get organized, save time, and stay connected to your customers." In other words, it looks like a pitch for Microsoft software in the guise of business advice. No, thanks.
I am sure that there are programs in this new Microsoft offering that do contain useful business advice. Sessions on getting the most out of standard tools, such as Excel or PowerPoint, can't be bad, especially if they are free. I just hope business consumers don't devote time to sessions or services on Small Business + only to find that they're glorified sales presentations.
Have you used Small Business +? Talk back to us and let us know what you thought of it.