Last week, we attended the B2SMB Institute Global Conference, which brings together product and service providers that are focused on meeting the needs of small businesses. We attended sessions on how to successfully market to small businesses, explored the role that technology plays in the small business landscape, and learned about some of the regulatory challenges that small businesses face. The common thread throughout the conference was clear – the biggest pain points for small business owners are time and money.
If you weren’t able to attend, here are some of the key themes and most important takeaways.
Corporate businesses selling and providing value-add products and services to small businesses have to keep the needs of the small business owner front and center:
- Ensure that your timing is right for what they have going on in their business and personal lives, and that the cadence of speaking to them is frequent enough, but not annoying.
- Ensure that your message to them is value-enhancing, as opposed to simply “checking-in”. You need to educate the small business owner with something they do not already know.
- Spend more time helping than selling
- Get feedback from a customer on how to sell to more customers like them; the best coach you’ll have in selling to a small business owner is a small business owner themselves
- Do not underestimate the power of branding in your sales cycle. Every touchpoint you have with your potential small business owner matters. Does your brand encapsulate your values?
- The number of women-owned businesses grew at twice the rate (21%) compared to businesses overall (9%) over the past five years, to a total of nearly 13 million. The number of businesses owned by women of color grew at even more – at a rate of 43%
- Women of color now represent 50% of all women-owned businesses, but they generate only 23% of the revenue – closing that gap would create 4 million new jobs and $981 billion in revenue 
- Women are often managing the household in addition to running their businesses. In order to garner their attention, you must be prepared to effectively and efficiently engage them as they balance other responsibilities
- Women of color business owners have unique needs, and therefore if you can meet these needs, therein lies the opportunity. For instance, faith plays a big role in the entrepreneurial journeys of female business owners, and thus utilizing language that speaks to the role of faith in their experiences can provide a common point of connection
Technology and online resources will continue to be play important roles in a changing small business landscape
- Technology has the opportunity to solve for key business challenges, including removing time or cost from services they receive. Examples cited at the conference included onboarding small business owners into new products more quickly based on better CRM hand-off processes or using technology platforms to cut previously cost prohibitive leadership coaching models
- New online resources (like CO by the US Chamber, Small Business Trends, and Alignable) are providing value-add services to small business owners and meeting them where they are
- 5G will also push the envelope of innovation for small businesses by improving internet speed and reliability, serving the interconnectedness of devices, enabling more virtual reality technologies, and allowing for an increasingly mobile and remote workforce