Guest Post by Mike Clough, in Honor of National Small Business Week
Small Business is the Key to America’s Growth
This week (May 24-28) is National Small Business Week. I am one who believes that America runs on small business and it is in the best interest of the nation to do all we can to support it. So, when small business owner, Julie Weishaar, whose company provides strategic marketing consulting services to entrepreneurs, asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I agreed.
In the best of times, many small businesses struggle to stay in business. In the first five years over 50 percent of all start-ups fold. In a tough economic climate such as the one we’ve experienced the last couple of years, this number climbs. It breaks my heart to think of the amount of time, money and effort that is wasted when a business closes their doors; especially, when it might have been avoided.
As a SCORE small business advisor and publisher of America’s Best Business Practices, I interact with small business owners every week. As a rule, I see no lack of great ideas, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit among businesses that are struggling. What most seem to need, but lack, are sound business and/or marketing plans and the experience necessary to succeed. The good news is that this need can easily be met, thereby increasing the likelihood of success.
Let’s take the problem of a lack of business experience. The best way to fix this is to have a mentor with proven business experience who can guide you through the rough spots. A mentor who knows how to increase cash flow, negotiate with vendors, secure a line of credit, build a marketing plan to increase sales can provide assistance with every aspect of your businesses.
I suppose you are thinking that a person like that or a team of people that can do this can be quite costly. And, you would be right. However, there is an organization whose mission is to provide this kind of support and more and they do it for free.
SCORE is an association with over 12,500 volunteer small business owners and executives who are still working, retired, and in-transition who give their time to counsel and mentor entrepreneurs and other small business owners. These volunteers are available through 364 Chapters and many branch offices in every state across America. Considering that SCORE counseling and mentoring is free, I cannot understand why an inexperienced entrepreneur or small business owner would want to go it alone. SCORE can assist you in developing your business and/or marketing plan as well as all of the other aspects of your business.
Unfortunately, SCORE doesn’t actually do the work for you. They provide advice, counseling and mentoring but you have to do the work yourself. Unless your business is marketing, you may find that you are just too busy with your core business activities to really focus on marketing. And yet, marketing is what drives revenue; the most important component of your business. Without ample revenue, everything else is for naught. Considering how critical marketing is to your business, don’t you think someone should be focused on it? If no one is focusing on marketing your business; then who will?
If you can’t afford to start your business with a strong marketing partner or employee, I recommend outsourcing it to a company that specializes in strategic marketing. One such company is New Horizons 123, a small business marketing consulting firm that helps business owners develop plans and programs to meet their business objectives. New Horizons 123 does this by helping to build a brand identity, sales collateral, and social media strategies. If you don’t outsource your marketing to New Horizons 123, you can always find another firm or do it yourself. Just make sure you don’t neglect this vital aspect of your business because your future depends on it.
If you prefer to develop your own marketing and business plan, I highly recommend a software application called “Business Plan Pro.” I have struggled personally building dozens of business plans using Microsoft Word and Excel. After joining SCORE and discovering Business Plan Pro, I gave it a try. I found it made creating a business plan far easier. PaloAlto Software also offers “Marketing Plan Pro” for those who just want to focus on that aspect of their business.
Since this is National Small Business Week, let’s salute our entrepreneurs and small business owners with a few facts. Did you know…
A recent study by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy identified 26.8 million businesses in the United States. Of those, 99.9% have fewer than 500 employees and, as such, are considered small businesses. This means that only one-tenth of one percent have more than 500 employees. Even more notable is the fact that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 98.2% have fewer than 100 employees. And if you are impressed with that number, you may be amazed to learn that in the same report it states that 89.3% of the businesses in America have fewer than 20 employees! Bear with me for just a moment more as I drive this point home. Even more amazing is the fact that 78.6% have fewer than 10 employees and 60.8% have fewer than 5 employees.
Truly America runs on small business! Over 50% of all jobs are created by small business. It is my firm conviction that our current economy will turn around when small business begins to grow. Let’s support the small businesses in our community!
Thanks for allowing me to use this blog as my soapbox in saluting our small businesses.