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What’s Important to SBOs?

by Cynthia Kay

When comes to what is important to small business different sources come up with different answers. They are all valid, just different. When the National Small Business Association asked small business owners about the number one concern the response was taxes followed by access to capital. Seems reasonable and having just returned from NSBA’s Washington Presentation I heard a lot about tax reform, specifically that small business owners are concerned that they will be left behind if reform does not include a solution for the millions of pass through small businesses.  http://www.nsba.biz/?s=corporate+tax+reform+pdf&x=10&y=3

But there’s also growing body of research that shows that small business owners are more concerned about getting and keeping clients. According to an article in eMarketer, “Spring 2015 research by Ebiquity for American Express looked at a different list of priorities and here, keeping current business and revenue sources was the No. 1 company priority cited by US SBOs, at 38%, followed by growing the business (34%).”

In a study by Constant Contact, one of the most recognized email marketing solutions, two-thirds of small business owners reported that finding customer was their biggest concern. This is followed, not surprisingly, by retaining existing customers.

So what is the reality? I think that small business owners have lots of concerns and what they report as the top concern may be affected by who is asking the question, how it is asked and the timing of the survey. But, the bottom line is this. I see a theme here. The major concerns expressed by small business centers around our two greatest stressors; time and money!

When it comes to taxes it is not just the taxes. Nearly one in three small business owners report spending more than $10,000 per year on the administration of federal taxes. Not to mention the time it takes us to fill out reports and work with accountants. It’s that time and money thing.
The same is true for finding and keeping clients. The costs associated with sales marketing programs can vary widely.  The time that you spend trying to develop a relationship with potential customers can be significant. If they don’t end up working with you all that time and money goes to waste.

While digital marketing is played up as important and it is, most small businesses find the most effective methods are the old fashioned ones. Word of mouth and networking top the list. This is certainly true for my company. Most of our large customers have found us through other customers. When you are recommended it is a huge step toward getting and keeping that new client.

So to end where I began, what’s important? EVERYTHING. As a small business owner you need to keep your eye on every aspect of the business and understand that at different times, different concerns will bubble to the top.

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