Friday, January 13, 2006

Key Small Business Insight No. 2: The Truth about Growth

The “small business market” is a deceptively simple name for a huge, sprawling non-collective that in Canada covers everything from farmers and fishers to dry cleaners, consultants, landscape architects, sophisticated equipment exporters and software developers.

There’s not much shared experience, and no consistent self-image. Their most common needs are those we all have simply as people: to keep food on the table, to be respected, to make more money, to cut costs, to make our lives easier. This is a major reason why B2SB (business to small business) marketing has as much in common with B2C (business to consumer) as with B2B. (The other main reason, of course, is that you are asking them to spend their own money, not someone else’s.)

But there’s one thing all businesses have in common, right? They all want to grow?

Wrong. Research (by Barb Orser and Rena Blatt) has found that half of small business owners don't want their businesses to grow at all.

For many, it’s a lifestyle issue – they’re happy with things as they are. They’re making enough money, they don’t want to work harder. And they certainly don’t need the headaches (longer hours, hiring new people, opening new locations and supervising people at a distance) that come with success.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t market to growth-oriented companies – after all, they're 50% of the market, and they're the ones mostly likely to buy your business solutions. But if you are going after the whole market, do keep in mind that growth is not always a positive. And success is not always a matter of size.

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