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Earlier this month we celebrated National Small Business Week.  Since 1963, Americans have joined together each year to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of America’s small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Today, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses countless new jobs in the United States each year.  So while National Small Business Week 2015 has come to an end, we want to take one more opportunity to talk about how small businesses can thrive in 2015 and beyond.

How can small businesses compete?

Small businesses hoping to compete with large enterprises that have more resources, stronger financial backing, and manpower may be intimidated at first – but small businesses often have differentiators that a bigger company can’t offer.  Perhaps a small business can offer more flexibility and a more customized customer approach.  It might have a cool and different culture or way of doing business.  Maybe a small business without multiple services and products offered can successfully compete with its narrow business focus or an exceptional local/regional knowledge base – or perhaps it can go after underserved markets, which are sometimes ignored by larger enterprises. 

Most likely, when you take a step back, there is almost always a unique value proposition that a small business can use to stand out in a sea of larger organizations.  Better yet, small businesses should take a step and ask – are those larger companies really my competition?  A small business may be operating on an entirely different level due to its size, which could actually be an advantage when it comes to personal interaction with customers and the ability to adapt quickly to changing situations.

If and when a small business does find itself competing directly with a large business, it should spend some time evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of that competitor.  By analyzing the potential client’s needs against the competitor’s weaknesses, small businesses will have a better chance of determining what their competitive edge can be. 

How Small Is Small Business?

It turns out that small businesses are actually huge.  The SBA recently found that there are more than 28.2 million businesses operating in the United States as of March 2014, and small businesses created two of every three new jobs between 1993 and mid 2013.  Of those 28.2 million businesses, most are “self-employed” – which equates to about three quarters of the United State’s total businesses. 

There are also economic reasons to support small businesses in general.  Entrepreneurship at its core drives American economic innovation and serves as a key channel for families to move out of lower income brackets and into the middle class.  Plus, a marketplace full of small businesses is a great way to support both innovation and low prices.

What does a small business really look like?

Small businesses come in many shapes and sizes.  They are your local coffee shop, your chiropractor, a favorite fashion boutique, or the pet supply store down the street.  From service-based and consulting businesses to creative businesses like writers and artists, “small business” is a very broad term.  Restaurants and food service companies, non-profits, home-based, franchise-owned, sales-based, veteran-owned, international … the list goes on.  At the SBA, we encourage all businesses, no matter how small, to dream big. 

For more information on the United States Small Business Administration, please visit www.sba.gov