My SMB in Rural Michigan (Small Fry)[ Edited ]
July 2016 - last edited July 2016
tldr; Looking for more resources / partnering.
A little background: My name is Brian and I run a very small business in a very rural farming community. I became a stay home father and starting fixing computers for people on the side. I'm one of the few 'tech savvy' people in our area, (and by no means would any of you consider me 'tech savvy' lol). As word got around I could help folks in the area I started getting more calls, and decided to start an LLC, instead of just doing 'side jobs'.
In the past 3 years I've started working with more local businesses on various projects from simple computer repair to website hosting. One of my best clients I've worked with closely is a small school for EMT's and Paramedics (which I happened to do before the stay home father thing). They were having some problems with their current web-host for their LMS (Moodle). I took a leap and told them I would try to host their Moodle/website, and have had great success. I'm self taught with some Linux server administration, and now have my own small server co-located in Saginaw, MI.
I've always been a great fan of Google products, and even have a legacy account for Google Apps which I still use to this day. I knew there was a Google Apps for Education program that the school could benefit from. I took it upon myself to complete the entire process for them, and got them approved and set-up (depending on students they run anywhere from 10-50 active users). They even now have 7 chrome books for student/teacher use and plan to purchase more. To assist with this I took it upon myself to become a Google Apps Certified Administrator (which I have since let lapse, but know I can easily re-attain).
Now word has gotten out further that I can help with Google products, and have started to get questions and interest from local governments (townships/villages), another school and a small business. I've started to put together small presentations for these organizations regarding their options.
Now I find myself in the position of possibly setting up several google apps service accounts, and this is all by word of mouth, I have done no marketing and advertising, (remember for me this has been a side gig along the stay home parenting thing). I make my money by charging for my time and efforts in set-up and education on many of the services I've set-up, along with general computer technical support. I am up front with all off my clients that I am not officially affiliated with or certified by google in any way, but being local and friendly goes a long way in rural communities, and they are happy to hire me.
My current plan is to renew my google administrators certificate, just to stay up to date if nothing else, and to pursue a few of the other certificates out there. Of course finding/researching the re-seller and partner programs has grabbed my interest. I see the benefits of partner access to my small clients it would make it easier and more secure than having an administrator account on each system, and I want to find the best way to go for my clients, while at the same time not sending them to another partner I don't know very well, and cannot vouch for. Problem is these are all small business and organizations, and if you don't count the government accounts I'm planning to assist with, I'm well short of the required 100 users. On top of that, while I have established good credit, my business does not have established credit history. I've not needed or wanted a business loan, I've saved and self-funded my entire operation. Long story short, I would not qualify as a Partner.
I'm trying to explore my options. Communicating directly with a representative from Google seems inappropriate for me at this early stage, so finding ideas and help from an established community of Google partners seems like a smarter plan for now, so here I am.
Can you work with an existing partner (subcontracting)?
Would my limited experience be too much of a liability to an established partner?
It seems Government Apps are a different animal not really handled by partners, no is there any kind of referral program, is this correct?
What about the education account I've already set-up?
I get that this partner program is more for established bigger tech service/sales companies, and that's simply not me. I'm just curious if there are any creative alternatives out there.
Re: My SMB in Rural Michigan (Small Fry)
Google Apps For Work also has a partners program as well as a re sellers program which does not have such high hurdles to become a part of.
There are loads of people here in the Partners community who would be happy to help you out as well as Googlers too.