Virtual Value: Microsoft’s Small Business Summit

Today marks the start of Microsoft’s three-day Small Business Summit – a free, online event that showcases more than 35 experts sharing insight, information and advice to help small business owners compete, grow and succeed.

The event will be broadcast live from Microsoft studios to more than 370 syndicated Web sites, and the company expects about one million participants over the three days.

“With the issues of today’s complex global economy, the Small Business Summit is more important than ever,” said Bill Rielly, marketing director, SMB solutions at Microsoft. “Small businesses want to learn what they can do to keep up with their larger competitors.” He added that the Summit’s experts will “share tips and strategies for small businesses to remain competitive and operate efficiently.”

Over the next three days, the Summit will cover three main topics.

Tuesday October 14: Sales and Marketing

“In the feedback we get from small business customers, they all highlight revenue and increasing sales as their top two issues,” said Rielly.

Some of the speakers slated to present include interactive marketing expert Pete Blackshaw, John Jantsch of Duct-Tape Marketing and author and editor Rieva Lesonsky.

Wednesday October 15: Productivity and Security

“Especially during this time of economic crisis, people want to learn what they can do to reign in expenses without sacrificing productivity,” said Rielly. “This is the toughest economy most small business owners have ever experienced.”

Speakers in this category include Stephanie Frank, an expert in “business acceleration” techniques and how to “turn overwhelm into overdrive, challenge into choice, and shambles into strategy.” Hear from Kevin Royalty, co-founder and managing partner of Total Care Computer Consulting on how you can run your business from anywhere, and Bob Rosner and Sherrie Campbell on the multi-tasking myth.

Thursday October 16: Financial Management

Rielly called this topic key for any small business. Speakers include financial journalist and author, Jean Chatzky, Steven Rogers, professor of management and director of the Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice and Nell Merlino, founder, president and CEO of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence.

“We’re offering a good mix of nationally known figures, customers, partners and Microsoft folks,” said Rielly. “Our customers will offer insight on the topics they live with day-to-day, like managing cash flow in a tight credit market or being able to work from any location.”

He also noted that this year the Summit offers attendees real-time networking and interaction through Twitter and a live chat room. “This Summit and the interactive capability give small business owners the opportunity to stay at their desk and still network, which fits with saving money in challenging times,” said Rielly.

In addition to airing live on Microsoft’s site, you can also catch it live on the company’s partner sites, such as, Reuters, CNNMoney,, and Rielly also noted that the events will be archived and available next week at Microsoft’s Small Business Center.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of

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