Of the thousands of small businesses that open their doors each year, 50 percent will close within five years, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics.
To address this problem, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), through its network of more than 100 stores in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Australia, has opened “SMB Zones,” which, according to a blog post announcing the launch, is a dedicated space featuring “hands-on access to business-grade technology and technical guidance tailored to the needs of business owners.”
In concert with the SMB Zones’ launch, Microsoft Stores has also implemented Accelerate Your Business, a leasing program designed to ensure that small business owners have access to the latest business-class PCs, warranty options and in-store and online training and support. Plans are affordable and start as low as $25 per month.
“Each of Microsoft’s more than 100 stores and MicrosoftStore.com is a resource for small and medium business customers searching for new opportunities to network and learn about the latest technology to help grow their business,” said a Microsoft spokesperson, speaking to Small Business Trends via email. “And every day, small business customers can take advantage of offerings such as Answer Desk, Surface Membership, in-store Small Business Academy workshops and customized events to build their business.”
What Will Microsoft SMB Zones Offer?
The new SMB Zones and Accelerate Your Business program amplify a set of current resources that small businesses can also take advantage of, which include:
- Business Sales Specialists. These are experts who help guide local business owners and entrepreneurs with their technology needs at both the Microsoft Store and the business location;
- Answer Desk. Advisors at the Answer Desk help small businesses keep their devices running smoothly. They answer technical questions, make recommendations and offer full service and support on all software and hardware. They also help business owners repair their PCs, tablets or phones free of charge, regardless of the device or where it was purchased;
- Surface Membership. According to the official blog post, Surface Membership (a subscription-based program) provides SMB customers with in-store, online and phone support, one-on-one personal training, financing, member discounts and more;
- Personal Training. Specialists educate customers with tutorials about Windows devices, Office 365, OneNote, Skype, OneDrive and more, the post says. Personal training is available for $49 per hour or $99 for one year of unlimited use;
- In-store Events. Microsoft Stores routinely host networking events, workshops, training and seminars on topics such as “Quick and Easy Online Advertising” and “How to Stay in Touch With Customers,” led by Microsoft and industry experts;
- Hosting Events. Most Microsoft Stores have a “Community Theater” available for use by partners and businesses to host training or networking events free of cost.
To take advantage of SMB Zones, Accelerate Your Business and the other services, visit a Microsoft Store or go online at MicrosoftStore.com.
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Having unfettered access to the SMB crowd is incredibly valuable and Microsoft knows it. This is a great idea and I think many SMBs could benefit if they leverage these resources.