The term “small business” is misunderstood in our “supersized” world. “Big” often is equated with “best,” and the very term “small” seems to stir a vision of something undersized, inexperienced, and inadequate.
I serve as the Region 7 Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, based out of Kansas City, Missouri, and covering four states. I have also worked for the U.S. General Services Administration both in the Midwest and in our nation’s capital. All the while my focus has been and continues to be helping small businesses succeed.
The general Federal definition of Small Business is one that is independently owned and operated, is organized for profit, and is not dominant in its field. Many other entities generally use one to 100 employees as the determinant of a small business. What we all agree on, however, is that Small businesses of all sizes are a critical part of the U.S. economy. (To assess small business status, go to: http://www.sba.gov/content/table-small-business-size-standards#.)
Something I have learned from over 30 years of working with small businesses is this: small businesses are as capable, experienced, and professional as any size business.
Have you ever asked yourself why large companies, the federal government other government entities or even you, personally, might choose to do business with a small business rather than a large one?
Here are some down-to-earth, basic reasons that make hiring a small business a smart choice.
They’re easier to get a hold of. (The owner might even answer the phone).
They’re hyper-focused on the customer. Fewer customers overall means small businesses have to satisfy every customer. If a small business loses or dissatisfies just one customer, it can affect bottom line profits in a very big way.
They’re versatile and flexible. Small businesses tend to hire people who have multiple skills and the ability to multi-task since there are lots of things to do. Owners or managers can quickly choose employees with the skills they need to shift their time to a crucial job and sometimes this choice means the difference between completing a job on time or not.
They can quickly adapt to change. Because small businesses can be more flexible, changes are taken more in stride. They are more apt to quickly react to changing circumstances, without consulting layers of management.
There are closer relationships between owners and employees. Every job in a small business is equally important because it takes all employees to keep the company afloat. The owner of the company also may be the salesperson or bid preparer for a contract and sometimes even works the counter (and phone.)
The SBA has numerous programs to help small businesses succeed. I will be talking about these in upcoming posts. As a preview to these specifics, please get to know us at the SBA website at www.sba.gov! If you’ve never been to the website, you will be amazed at the breadth of our very small agency – and perhaps amazed to find out that small businesses create two out of every three new private sector jobs and half of all Americans work for a small business.
When you support small businesses, you are supporting a vibrant U.S. economy!