By Bob Walsh

A post this morning at Business of Software reminded me of an important point: microISVs are businesses with all of the advantages and disadvantages of that particular kind of activity. If you thought the number of scams, spams and ripoff artists you have to fend off as an individual are a pain in the ass, wait until you’ve been in business a few years!

Today’s case in point: the veritable firm of Dun and Bradstreet which for decades before the internet provided businesses with a useful credit report on other businesses. This allowed companies not even in the same state to do business with some degree of confidence that that shipment of iron flanges would actually get paid for.

Today, we have the net, we have Google and the first thing anyone does when starting a business relationship (and most personal relationships!) is check the net, just to be sure.

The Internet has not been kind to Dun and Bradstreet – they are returning the favor. Personally, I get a call a quarter these guys re why my company absolutely cannot exist another day without its very own D&B number. Like offers of being in yellow pages, leasing financing, account receivable financing, and remanufactured printer cartridges, I need this like fish need shoes. My business resides in zip code 00000 – the Net.

Reading today’s post makes me so glad I never bought into their line of bull.

I have no way of verifying this post independently, but it jibs with my personal experience with D&B:

“Because they have no data on me and can’t give me a good credit rating, they are ‘forced’ to issue a “Risk of Late Payment Indicator” alert on my business. Naturally I can fix all of that for the small fee of $549 USD. And, I can’t remove my company from their database.”

How’s that for nasty?

As a microISV, you’re a small business person. And that means just because you push bytes out the door not dry cleaned laundry you simply can’t afford to not put on your Small Business Person Hat on a regular basis and do that work. That means, at the very least, plugging into some of the really good general small business sites out there.

Three of the very best sites?

  • Startup Nation at http://www.startupnation.com/ This site goes on and on and on and while you may have the urge to snicker at forum questions like, “Should you have a web site”, these guys are really good at getting the general business stuff down.
  • The Small Business Administration at http://www.sba.gov/ This is one of the best resources you can tap into for general business information, but most of the really good stuff resides in the heads of the people who work in the U.S. for and with the SBA. There are times when it’s worth it to pass up the convenience of doing everything online: Where else can you get free or low cost classes followed up with free unlimited business consulting and mentoring services?
  • My friend, Pamela Slim’s blog at http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/ Pam is one of the very best general startup business consultants out there; reading her posts is like getting a targeted MBA in how to make your business succeed.

Takeaway for today: You are a small business owner, and small business owners get scammed at least three times more than individuals because they have more money to steal either via dodgy business practices or outright fraud and extortion. Do yourself a favor and put on the Small Business Person hat on a regular basis.

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