Five Questions to Ask (and Answer) for Small Business Week

Open stare

Here in the states, it’s National Small Business Week. That means, we, those of us who own a small business or support them without dollars, are celebrating the spirit of the small business, the entrepreneur, the mom and pop, and the not so small (they count, too…500 or less employees to be exact) throughout the week.

Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and the primary source of jobs for Americans.

Indeed. I  fully concur with this statement from the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Need more oomph for that backbone? Read on:

Small Businesses:

  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • Employ half of all private sector employees.
  • Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
  • Generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.
  • Create more than half of the nonfarm private GDP.
  • Hire 43 percent of high tech workers ( scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and others).
  • Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
  • Made up 97.5 percent of all identified exporters and produced 31 percent of export value in FY 2008.
  • Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.


Give the Gift That Keeps On Giving

So, what can we do to strengthen this backbone? Should we do something special for our small business this week? Take her to lunch? Send flowers?

Of course, I’m kidding (except for the food part…a little chocolate never hurt anyone). Here’s what I REALLY hope you will do this week (and every week) for your small business.  First off, take a few moments or heck, a half day each week would be nice, to answer these questions:

  1. What makes your business unique, special and successful? This is a very crowded marketplace: 27.5 million and growing.  In order to compete (I know, some folks don’t like that word, but at some level we do compete with other businesses even if we are the most unique, most special of all) and succeed, we must know what makes us, well, us.
  2. Where are you spending your time in order to develop and grow your business?  Are you taking classes, meeting with a mentor, re-crafting your business plan, seeking professional business advice? That’s just on the business management and development side.
  3. What are you doing with your marketing efforts to cultivate, establish and maintain your unique position in the market?  Are you spending all of your time reading blogs, books, and white papers in order to get a handle on how best to market your business? Only to discover you’ve not a clue how to use any of those tools and in effect, just wasted a few hours noodling around instead of working. Hint here: working on your business, providing excellent service to your clients and doing what you say you’ll do when you say you do it? That’s golden at establishing your unique position in the market.
  4. Do you fully understand what you’re marketing? Ah, the age old question. Are you marketing the wrong service or product offering? Are you blogging about corn when you should be blogging about wheat? Dig in and figure out what your customer is interested in, align your services to that, then go about the business of providing and marketing that.
  5. Is your team all that it can be? Whether you assemble a ninja force of subcontractors or hire team members under your umbrella, choosing the right ones can make or break your business. For me, I ask and answer these two questions before hiring or contracting with anyone:  a) Do they have the right attitude? and b) Do they have the right skills to free me up to do the big things that will continue to earn money for the business?  It also helps if they love the craziness of the marketing and PR world and the way I operate in it!

What would your list look like? What would you do for your small business this week if you had half a day to devote to it? Whatever you do, do it mightily and with a full focus on success!

For those of you with small businesses, I salute you. I come from a long line of them and I’m slugging it out in one now. No, make that thriving with one. I would choose no other way to do it!

Image via Flickr

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