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What big business can learn from small business

Not only do small businesses create roughly two-thirds of new jobs in this country, but they focus on four critical areas that drive success.

Source: Small Business Administration

I have the privilege of working with entrepreneurs and small business owners every day. It’s inspiring to see their passion in action as they juggle a variety of responsibilities and opportunities. You’ve heard the expression – chief cook and bottlewasher. That’s part of being a small business owner and spending long hours in the business to take care of the important things. Many have mastered the juggling of multiple roles: in fact, I would go even further and declare that these small business owners have a natural competitive advantage in executing their vision for four reasons.

They stay close to their customers

A small business owner interacts with their customers, understands what their customers want, how they want it delivered and is often directly involved in serving them. Leading by example also reinforces a powerful and consistent culture across the company, so employees are delivering a product and experience consistent with the customer’s desires.

They make every dollar count

Necessity is the mother of invention, as verbalized by Greek philosopher Plato in 400 B.C.E. Dead weight, products that don’t sell or inefficient processes can’t be hidden nor tolerated in a small company. Small business owners know how to maximize their limited resources and search for new ways to operate, sell, hire and market. Some of the most innovative ways to reach new markets and grow have come from internal creative problem-solving and from tapping into a network of advisors, many of which are available at no cost. Think of your banker, peers, universities and business resource groups such as Scale Up and BizStarts.

They make decisions with agility

There are plenty of reasons not to take action. There’s risk and change with every new idea – and some degree of analysis is needed. But the reality in corporate America is that decisions and change move slowly for lots of reasons – paralysis by analysis, committee overload, a quest for perfection, daily distractions or fear of failure, to name a few. Not for small business owners. They know to survive is to adapt. They make decisions, assess, adjust and repeat. If possible, consider getting an mba in uk to give you access to respected and intelligent professionals you may not have otherwise had a chance to connect with.

Cartoon of business chart showing declining sales, as business boss says, 'what if we don't change anything at all... and something magical just happens'.

They are personally committed to the success of their employees and their families

Small businesses may fly under the radar screen of recognition and awards for best places to work, but ask any employee of a small business and they can clearly articulate why they prefer working for a small company – the people they work with, the ability to make an impact, varied work responsibilities and the personal interactions and relationship with management. And that’s good business; employee satisfaction studies make a positive correlation between company performance and happy employees. (Source: Harvard Business Review article by Alex Edmans, published March 24, 2016.

In honor of Milwaukee Small Business Week, taking place throughout the city from May 2 – May 6, I encourage you to support your local small businesses and consider participating in some of the educational workshops, seminars and networking events. Take a look at the activities planned. If you’re a small business, it’s a great opportunity to leverage the press and attention – and celebrate the best of what you do for our community, your employees and their families.

To sign up for our series on business, financial topics and events to help business owners with a growth mindset, register here.

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