“What a small business needs is typically not all that different from what my individual home users with a private home network need: shared access to files and resources with minimal downtime and expense.” says David Bookbinder, an independent IT consultant in the Boston area. “The simpler it is for them, the more reliable it is, the better they are served, and the happier everyone is all around.”
Being independent, local consultants have a stronger motivation to please customers and to foster their loyalty. Independent consultants typically have more experience and skill than the average cookie-cutter tech who works for a big-box company, and they should take the time to form a relationship and understand the needs of their SMB clients.
Pricing is harder to pin down, and it may vary widely depending on the consultant and the region. Some aggressive independent consultants may deeply undercut both big box chains and rival consultants on price, while more-established consultants with a regular clientele and a solid reputation commonly charge significantly more. In either case, you’re likely to find that you get what you pay for. Often, an SMB can engage in some type of loose contract or retained service with an independent tech support consultant, paying a monthly fee or buying service “hours” in bulk to be used as needed.