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Is Small Business Getting Too Big?

Is Small Business Getting Too Big?

Big Small BizIs is possible that small business is too big?  The latest reports from the Small Business Association claim that 99.7% of non-farm businesses in the U.S. are small businesses.  Sounds pretty big to me.

When the SBA began, small businesses had to have less than 250 employees.  Today, as most believe, a small business must have less than 500 employees.  That’s just not the case.

The guidelines for defining small business vary by industry.  The maximum number of employees can be as high as 1,500 and annual receipts as high as $35.5 million.  And, the SBA just tweaked the guidelines, adding more than 20,000 new firms to that not-so-exclusive small business list.  Small businesses can be s small retailer with with 12 employees or an aircraft R&D company with 1,500 employees.  It can be a local car rental business earning $35.5 million, a soybean farm earning $750k or a web design agency with $83,000 in receipts.

For me as a marketer, the utility of targeting small business as a niche declines significantly as the niche balloons into a majority.  There are thousands of folks out there claiming they’re small business specialists.  “We have 20 years of experience in small business marketing.”  “We’re the pre-eminent online marketers for small business.”  “Home of the small business advertising agency.”

When 99.7% of the country’s businesses are small business, it isn’t useful to target small business.  What do these 28 million businesses have in common?  Nothing in my mind.  Small business has simply outgrown their niche.  Funny to think that the SBA who was designed to help small business people may have accelerated the demise.

Either we, as marketers, need to create new definitions for ‘small business’ or the S.B.A. needs to think about their very complicated guidelines.


Small Business - Niche or Not

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