A different kind of community

Last night i went to a seminar on Health and Safety, Employment Law and advice for startups to turn ideas into a viable business

The reason for going was three fold

First of all, since we’re having a growth spurt and actually giving people jobs it makes sense to make sure we’re doing it right

Second, it was also billed as a networking event so thought that would be useful as well

Third, it was two miles down the road from the office 🙂

All in all it was pretty useful but i’m sure your wondering what this has anything to do with what i usually post here (though i wasn’t best pleased with £3.65 a pint when it was my round!)

The event was organised by the “Business Startup Community

It’s an online based community that wants to bring together companies (with a focus on startups) so that they can help grow their businesses by sharing ideas, forging partnerships and relationships and doing business with each other……sound familiar?

I meant a very nice lady called Katie who runs the show and chatted briefly about communities and the event in general

Side Note: At what point do we stop being a “startup”? We’ve being running for a couple of years now but at what stage do we decide we’re established?

The one thing i do like about this particular online community is it’s single point of contact

If your new to the SBSC thing (which i still am!) where do you go to find out what it’s all about?

Obviously when you start digging you find lots of resources (you know which people i’m talking about right? :-p )  but they are all very distributed and if your new to it you can miss lots of useful information

Just as an example, here in the UK we have two SBSC PAL’s

Vijay and Gareth

When i first read Vijay’s post on becoming PAL one of my first thoughts was “Who is Gareth Brown?”

That is in no way meant as a slight on Gareth, it’s my responsibility to know who these people are but that was the first time i’d heard the name (and his lovely shiny new website wont let me send him an email!)

Now you might say “Andy you should go meet these people, attend user groups, go to events”

I’d love to, really!

But actually finding events hasn’t been something i’ve been able to do easily. My local user group is currently taking a summer break and i can’t seem to find anything else going on (granted WPC probably influenced some of that!)

So what’s my point! (do i ever have one!? 🙂 ) or am i just whining?

SMBNation has a lovely calendar of events (the mother of all calendars i believe) but very US focused

Is there any similar sort of resource for the UK? Would one be of use?

Comments would be good please…If there was enough demand for something i’d be willing to set something up

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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5 thoughts on “A different kind of community

  • Andy – I wish I had known you were going to the Business Startup show in Coventry, I was 50/50 on attending and knowing you were attending would have swung it and I would have come along for the chance of a natter with you!

    As for user groups – in the absence of anything formal (although I’m sure Vijay will address this soon enough) why not get in touch with a few fellow community members to see who fancies getting together for a curry sometime soon? You can count me in

    I was lucky that when I first qualified as a SBSC the Symposium in Manchester was just around the corner as a fairly big get-together. So I met a few folks, who then introduced me to others within the Community and so on. Perhaps you could do the same, get in touch with people through existing contacts, albeit “virtually” until the next “proper” get together is organised?

    Other suggestions are joining organisations like the British Computer Society, UKita and the Federation of Small Businesses – all have regular get-togethers that you can go along to and mingle.

    I’ve been chomping at the bit for a couple of years now to attend some regular user group meetings as there is nothing like bouncing ideas off fellow IT Pro’s to motivate you to get on and achieve. I guess in the absence of anything already happening, we should seize the initiative and try to organise things ourselves – even if we are a pair of “newbies” 😉

  • Hi Andy,

    I was disappointed to read your comments and we have discussd some of these issues via email as well. We’ve been running regular events and meetings for well over 18 months and we are just reorganising to get a formal subscription fee in place to make things better for everyone. All these efforts are voluntary and we do this as well as running our businesses. It’s great that you’re wanting to be an active member of the community and I’m sure we can involve you in various aspects of running the Group.

    Microsoft only officially launched the SBSC PALs at the Partner Conference so you will see this information communicated by Microsoft UK soon and also via SMB Nation. I put this information out on my Blog as soon as I could, but I had no authorisation from Microsoft to do so!

    If you had dropped me an email I would’ve given you Gareth’s email! Gareth is a very committed and passionate member of the SBSC Community and spends a lot of his time influencing Microsoft to deliver value to us all, which people don’t have visibility of.

    Contact me anytime if you want to discuss any of your concerns as you’re only down the road from me!!



  • Hi Vijay

    Could you read this post again please?
    I think maybe you have misinterpreted the tone of this post.

    I don’t have concerns as such. I just wanted to relay my recent experiences and see if there are other resources i don’t know about or to see if one could be created (which i was volunteering to do!) to help myself or anyone else who is trying to figure it all out

    The point i was trying to get across is if you were new to the whole SBS Community concept how do you go about getting involved? How do you find out what events are coming up? How do you find out who to speak to?

    The question about Gareth was an example (a good one i thought!) as this was the first time i’ve heard his name mentioned as part of the UK scene yet he obviously does lots of work otherwise he wouldn’t be a PAL! My question was supposed to be taken literally. He obviously does lots of hard work but i don’t know anything about him.

    The bit in brackets was just meant to point out that there is a problem with his site(if i hadn’t spotted a problem with mine i’d like someone to tell me!)….but on reflection i probably could have communicated that differently

    I wasn’t trying to be critical of your or anyone and 100% agree with the plans you have communicated to me.

    I’ve re-written this comment four times now as i my intention was never to disappoint or offend

  • Andy,

    You have a fair point about resources and guidance and something that we should maybe look to do better on. I really like your passion and commitment and we need more people like you. The Midlands Group is alive and well but just sorting out a few issues because at the end of the day we are self financing and we need a regular fee to pay for the hotel venue we use! We are not official Microsoft Groups at this moment in time, so we don’t get any financial support from them. You’re blog is an excellent resource, so let’s talk when I get back from Denver!

    Never be afraid to say what you think, sometimes things need to be said and that takes courage!

    Cheers mate

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