Microsoft Resources for Startups and Small Businesses

The state of the economy and the large number of layoffs over the last two years have a lot of people thinking about starting their own business - so does a really bad day at work, but I'll try to stay on topic here.....

If you are thinking about starting your own business or currently running a small business, do yourself a favor and explore the following:

A lot of folks want to start a business, however, they just don't know where to begin.  The Microsoft Startup Center lays out the information you need to get started in a way that is very easy to understand.  There is also a free eBook you can download to help you write a killer business plan.  Use this website in conjunction with the Small Business Administration site to successfully launch your new venture.

If your business develops software, is privately held, in business for less than three years and has less than $1M in annual revenues, then MIcrosoft BizSpark is for you.  The Microsoft BizSpark program is based on the belief that startup success is our success.  Microsoft is committed to help technology startups realize their goals on their own terms and in the shortest amount of time.  Microsoft BizSpark offers Startups the opportunity to:

  1. Get Software:  Receive fast and easy access to Microsoft's current full-featured development tools, platform technologies, and production/hosting licenses for immediate use in developing and bringing to market innovative and interoperable solutions.  There is no upfront cost to enroll in Microsoft BizSpark.

  2. Get Support:  Get professional support from Microsoft and get connected to BizSpark Network Partners around the world who provide a wide range of support resources for software startups.  Network Partners are incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies and hosters who are vested in software-fueled innovation and entrepreneurship.

  3. Get Visibility:  Startups have the opportunity to achieve global visibility to an audience of potential investors, clients, and partners by profiling their company in the online Startup Directory, BizSparkDB, on the Microsoft Startup Zone Website.

This is your one-stop shop for all things small business.  The Microsoft Small Business Center has all kinds of info that includes business articles, technical support, security, products, services, training, product licensing and much more.  Now that your business is off the ground, you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to make sure it is successful.

Having an internet presence is crucial to the success of all businesses.  With Microsoft Office Live Small Business you can get a website and up to 100 e-mail accounts for FREE.  You can also get domain registration free for the first year and only $14.95/year thereafter.  Check out the pricing page to see all of your options.

Every business needs an accounting package and Mirosoft has two to choose from:  Microsoft Office Accounting Express which is FREE and Microsoft Office Accounting Professional for $199.95.  Compare both editions and then choose the one that's right for your business.

Windows Small Business Server 2008 is an all-in-one server solution designed to help you keep your data more secure and your company more productive.  It provides many of the features used by larger companies, such as e-mail, Internet connectivity, internal Web sites, remote access, support for mobile devices, file and printer sharing, backup, and restore for up to 75 users—all at one affordable price.

Microsoft provides range of hosted solutions for businesses of all sizes.  Saving money is crucial in our economy, but small businesses are especially feeling the pinch of these tough times.  Prices for Microsoft Online Services start at as low as $1.75/user/month depending upon the service you choose.

The most popular online solution we provide is the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite which is a set of messaging and collaboration solutions hosted by Microsoft, and consists of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online.  These online services are designed to give your business streamlined communication with high availability, comprehensive security, and simplified IT management.  Your business benefits from always up-to-date technologies that are deployed rapidly, maximizing your valuable IT resources and reducing your need for infrastructure investments.

I highly recommend Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.  All businesses need an effective customer relationship management solution, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an award winning product that can help businesses manage Sales, Customer Service and Marketing.  At $44/user/month, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is practically a steal.

I hear from customers all the time that Microsoft licensing is confusing.  I've been at the company for over 7 years now so I think I've finally got the hang of it.  I'm not going to use this post to explain licensing in detail, I just want to point you to some information that is specific for small businesses.

  1. Microsoft Open License - for small businesses that need to buy 5 or more licenses, Open License is the way to go.  There are three options to choose from:  Open License, Open Value (including Company-wide) and Open Value Subscription.

  2. Microsoft Financing - appropriate for companies of all sizes, but incredibly useful for small businesses because not only can you finance the purchase of software, but also hardware and consulting services used to deploy your solutions.

Before you make an type of volume license purchase, always check the Microsoft Incentives website to what offers and discounts are available.  Never spend more on Microsoft licensing then you have to.

Of course I could never forget our flagship products.  I recommend Microsoft Office Small Business and Microsoft Windows Vista Business.  If you haven't started playing around and testing Windows 7, you should at least take the time learn more about the benefits to small business.  Also check the Windows for Small Business website.

That's all for now.  I'm off to enjoy the beautiful weather.


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