Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sleepless in Small Business

An executive who markets to small business asked me the other day what’s keeping entrepreneurs awake at night. (You have to know your prospects’ problems before you can start marketing effectively to them.)

Unfortunately, I didn't have any amazing insights to offer. Even in the face of recession in the eastern half of Canada, business owners are still grumbling to me about the same old problems:

* The agony of recruiting good help;
* The difficulty of holding on to good people when every other business is trying to lure them away;
* Rising energy costs;
* Trying to make sense of the Internet (before it changes their business forever);
* Finding ways to turn the Succession Boom to their advantage – either by preparing their business for sale, or by buying another business, for strategic or competitive reasons.

My marketer friend and I agreed that the slowing economy has not yet dented the confidence of most entrepreneurs. We decided the Canadian economy has gone through a huge restructuring in the past two decades, and that as a result, fewer businesses seem to be affected so badly by manufacturing’s decline and the slowdown in the U.S.

Of course, it also helps that entrepreneurs get to pick the markets they serve. In the past few years, many small businesses have changed focus and reduced their dependence on automotive companies, mass consumer markets, and other predictably vulnerable sectors. As the Canadian economy switches further to providing services, especially business and professional services to world markets, expect to see more and more entrepreneurs develop their own “Get out of Recession Free” card.


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