As founders they saw the need for a cloud integrator not just an app to enable business sustainability and future proof businesses in these ever changing times. This has led them to be the leading“cloud integrators”in Australia and New Zealand.
Entrepreneurial success comes from seeing problems others can’t and then delivering solutions that effectively solve the problem they identified. It has to be done in such a way that people can see the value in the solution and will pay for it to make their lives better in some way.
SMB Consultants is one of those incredible success stories. The founders Jeffrey Atizado and Peter Klein have pulled off a remarkable transformation - creating and defining a new category of consulting business.
The Spark That Created SMB Consultants
It’s been an incredible journey for founders Jeffrey and Peter, who first met as Apple hardware resellers with a passion for working with small businesses and technology.
As Apple product resellers, they were selling direct to consumers and business to business (B2B) where they set up Mac hardware and networking for small businesses and enterprise.
It was when they were looking at the best set up for one of their retail customer’s point of sale (POS) they saw the potential to not just help with hardware solutions but also with the software solution technologies available.
It started with selling Lightspeed POS (then only available on Mac) to small retail vendors. Their first implementation was a success and created waves within the retail community in that neighbourhood. It spurred a slew of POS assignments from other small businesses who wanted in.
In that moment they found themselves getting booked out for their ability to integrate better systems with hardware and software solutions combined, not just supply hardware.
We saw, first hand, how cloud software was perfect for small businesses - it was cheaper, faster to set up and integrated. But then you had all these excellent apps, but no one in the market to help businesses select the right cloud apps as a complete solution for their business, and that’s where we saw an opportunity. - Jeffrey Atizado, Co-Founder, SMB Consultants
The Xero ecosystem effect
Jeffrey, Peter and the SMB Consultants team were kept busy integrating systems and POS, however when Xero launched its ecosystem of apps in 2011 that was a defining moment in business that thanks to their knowledge and experience, SMB Consultants were ready for.
The phenomenal growth of Xero, also came with the phenomenal need for businesses to have support to get their supporting technology that runs their businesses working well together.
Closing the gap between apps and business needs
Business owners wear many hats and are typically time poor, the hidden systems are not always the focus as they need to ensure products are getting created, packaged, shipped and are available to buy. If you don’t understand technology or have a background in it, it can be the thing that gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. In the short term the impacts are not noticed, but in a growing business the cracks will eventually show. Things such as running out of stock or hiring employees to manage manual processes quickly drive up overheads.
Very quickly SMB Consultants realised that whilst business owners understood there may be ‘an app for that’ and they were open to implementing cloud based technology in their business, the reality was there was no one size fits all. For true success integrating cloud technology into their businesses it was clear there was a need to help businesses integrate the right technology for their business needs.
Just like not all apps are the same neither are businesses. Bringing together their business knowledge, hardware knowledge and experience integrating POS systems, SMB Consultants were ready to be the guide for business owners as one of the very first Cloud Integration Specialists.
Meeting clients where they are
Jeff and Peter noticed businesses at different stages of business also have different phases of cloud adoption. They broke them down into 3 major phases:
New to the cloud
New to the cloud
While most businesses were in the ‘new to the cloud stage’, a surprising amount of businesses were in theFrankenApps phase.
FrankenApps were businesses that had heard of cloud, got excited and decided to add an app to help run their business. They made a decision to implement a cloud based app, but only after implementation they realised the app didn’t quite fit into their business. In many cases apps were meeting about 80% of their requirements. This may sound good in theory, but in reality the 20% it didn’t meet often led to costly manual workarounds. Either their purchased apps weren’t able to (or couldn’t) integrate correctly, or they were using the software the wrong way. They literally became beasts that took on a life of their own becoming a burden to the business.
Business owners who have ‘FrankenApps’ are keen to implement new technology which is great, but after bad experiences with it they are often at a loss of time, money and patience to work in the cloud and use cloud based apps for fear that it will be a further drain on their business.
Even in the early days, SMB Consultants regularly come across cloud ready businesses. Whilst not as common as FrankenApps businesses, they typically have streamlined their processes and have basic efficiencies in place. What’s most important to them is to transition to cloud based technology so they can grow their business to be competitive with large businesses without drastically increasing their overheads.
Cloud Ready Businesses may have already implemented an app, but now want to implement more, or upgrade what they have to increase efficiencies in the business. They are nervous about any disruptions to business with the transition to new technology.
SMB Consultants are going from strength to strength. Now more than ever it is clear to see the need for their expertise and ability to transition businesses to cloud based systems for business sustainability.
Cloud technology is easily available, but easy access does not mean straightforward. More so, when you were purchasing two or more cloud apps and needing to integrate them.
Integration is one of the top things that businesses look for, but not all integrations are alike. Also there is no governing body managing or rating integrations. Just because a company advertises an integration it doesn’t necessarily mean that the integration is robust or covers what you would expect.
A holistic approach to recommending and implementing cloud applications was needed. It was important to not just recommend the right set of apps that solved the business’ needs but also played well with each other.
Over time, the SMB Consultants team tried and tested a number of solutions, and developed a strong understanding of which apps worked well alone and in conjunction with each other. This has now evolved into more than 10 years experience of consistent testing and learning to be at the forefront of cloud integration technology.
With their expertise across a number of apps, they continue being ‘solution agnostic’ and recommend the right and best apps to the business depending on their needs. It turned out to be the right approach and small businesses trusted them for it.
The future looks cloudy (and great!)
SMB Consultants see themselves leading the cloud revolution, by helping businesses to successfully leverage the cloud to do what they love and grow their business. You can bet that they’ll also continue to push the boundaries of what an integrator can do.