Should Small Businesses Focus On What They Already Have?

BY: ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2013

Business owners are a diverse bunch. Those running today's SMBs go far beyond the stereotypical suits and ties. They're the stay-at-home moms, the college drop-outs, those who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and those who just want to take a chance.

Regardless of where they started, most small business owners have big business ambition. Unfortunately, such entrepreneurs rarely have the financial resources on hand to make those dreams a reality. Does this mean the allure of entrepreneurship should be out of reach? Of course not.

Businesses often focus on what they want and what they think they need rather than considering what they already have at their disposal. Instead of pondering the endless “what ifs,” it's perhaps more practical for SMBs to explore their potential based on where they stand at the present.

Why Businesses Should Focus On What They Already Have

Consider a recent episode of ABC's Shark Tank, where budding entrepreneurs put their products on the line for funding from successful “sharks” such as Mark Cuban. In the aforementioned episode, a wildly successful food truck business requested funding for a brick and mortar restaurant. They were eventually denied funding despite their profits and success, failing to realize that they should stick with a food truck model and that expanding to a brick-and-mortar business could potentially ruin them.

Should entrepreneurs give up on their dreams and visions? No. Regardless, sometimes its best for entrepreneurs to stick with what they know, what they already have and what's proven rather than take a needless risk. In Mark Cuban's words, it's sometimes best to "follow the money.”

Should Small Business Owners Think Small?

Small businesses are often told by the blogosphere to think big and they certainly shouldn't be afraid to do so. There's nothing inherently wrong with dreams of billboards, lavish television commercials and endorsements, unless such visions are distracting you from getting down to business.

More likely than not, your business is not in need of a reality check. You're more than aware of the staggering economy and how tough it is for businesses to thrive today. You know that it takes a certain type of personality and persistence in order to make it out there and you're willing to go for it, correct?

Instead, your business may need the reality check to think small

Consider what's free, what you can do yourself and the fact that a big budget does not guarantee a better business. The cost of setting up a WordPress blog, producing optimal content and managing social accounts is a pittance compared to big budget advertising. Furthermore, a simple cell phone camera has the potential to be more powerful tool than a TV spot, not to mention also saving you thousands of dollars. It's been proven time and time again that effective blogging and engaging social media can grab more attention than a big money media campaign. More users and customers are online than ever; therefore, it's more prudent to focus on cost-effective, Internet marketing. Such marketing is not just an option for businesses looking to grow their presence in the real-world, but rather the option.

Instead of Getting Bigger...

Take into consideration that small businesses represent a community. While that community may be anything but small (up to 99.7% of American companies according to the SBA), being a part of such a community is a powerful asset which companies should be leveraging. Consumers generally want to support their local communities and the “little guy” versus the faceless, big box competitor. For this reason, word of mouth remains a powerful means in which a small business may propel themselves. By making yourself known and established with local consumers, you may gauge whether or not you're ready to move forward.

Small businesses may benefit from embracing simplicity. It's easy to spread ourselves thin by trying to get involved in too many projects or extending ourselves beyond our expertise. Remember; don't be afraid to think small. Focus on your niche and understand how to dominate it, then you may be poised to move on to bigger and “better” things.

...Focus on Getting Better

Better. That's the word SMBs should be most focused on. We can imagine what it'd be like to have a huge team around us or endless resources at our disposal. Yet then we think of businesses that started as solo ventures, born out of garages or the mind of a college student with a laptop, we realize that such resources perhaps aren't so essential.

We could spend all day wondering “what if,” or we could focus on building a stronger team, a better product and a more effective marketing strategy. Think back to the food truck example; businesses have the potential to grow in completely different ways. The direction we take once we're ready to expand is dependent on what we've learned. Once again, businesses should follow the money before obsessing over a vision. 

It's true that size matters; however, a business' ability to grow is completely dependent on the decisions of its owner. “Bigger” comes along once we become “better.”

The Bottom Line

There's a lot at stake for today's small businesses and they want to get the most out of their efforts. Before getting wrapped up in the “what ifs,” consider what your business has today and how you may improve based on those assets. Small businesses all have to start somewhere; how far they go depends on how they allocate their present resources.

About the Author

Brent Barnhart
Brent Barnhart is a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. He covers a wide variety of topics through the written word, including content marketing, Internet marketing and small business trends. ChamberofCommerce.com is dedicated to helping small businesses grow their presence on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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