Microsoft’s Small Business Summit: Advice from the Experts

Microsoft kicks off its third annual Small Business Summit, the company’s totally free, online event that helps small business owners learn more about best practices and how to work smarter. The Summit runs from Monday, March 24 through Thurs., March 27.

The first Summit in 2006 drew 8,000 participants while last year it grew to 30,000. This year, according to Cindy Bates, Microsoft’s general manager of U.S. small business, Microsoft expects the Summit to attract 200,000 participants.

“Since the inception of the Small Business Summit, in 2006, we have delivered more than 20 products and services specifically designed to empower small-business owners,” Bates said in a written statement. “Recognizing that companies with 50 or fewer employees may have limited IT resources, we look to deliver customer-driven innovation and solutions that enable self-employed people at any stage of growth to focus on running their small business.”

Over the next four days, the Summit will showcase more than 50 video segments with entrepreneurs and industry experts and hours of business programming offering tips, advice, and secrets designed, according to Microsoft, to make the many hats that small business owners wear “fit more comfortably.”

Day one of the Summit focuses on sales and marketing and tomorrow, day two, looks at productivity, mobility and security. Wednesday’s topic concerns all things financial while Thursday, the final day, covers start-ups (including advice from CNBC’s Donny Deutsch). Checkout the programming guide, and – time zone alert — note that all times listed are Pacific Daylight Time.

Here’s a sampling of what’s on offer at the Summit:

  • Building Buzz, with Tina Wells: Target your customers like a pro.
  • Phone It In, with Richard Sprague: Affordable small business phone system with big-time features.
  • Money Matters Roundtable, with an Expert Panel: Explore hot topics in finances with our panelists.
  • Make Money, Not Excuses, with Jean Chatzky: Making a start-up pay can be daunting, but you can do it. Learn strategies that work.

To attend the Summit and to view the broadcasts, you need to register. The sessions are available as streaming video and audio broadcasts. Microsoft’s FAQ offers these instructions for viewing live sessions: “A few minutes before the broadcast is scheduled to begin go to and login to view the live broadcast.”

All program sessions will broadcast live starting at 9 AM to 1 PM (PDT). If you can’t make a live broadcast, but want to catch it on the same day, Microsoft plans to re-broadcast from 1 PM to 5 PM (PDT) – just login to the site between those hours.

Microsoft also plans to record each session and make it available for viewing on-demand online. You can access them (as soon as they become available) by visiting

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of

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