I’ve thought long and hard about this particular topic.
Ever since we started the me:now project, the small business has been at the forefront of what we do and why we do it.
And it’s become obvious to me that the main reason there aren’t many B2B resources available to small business owners, is because they’re just not worth it.
A lot of effort has to be put in, but the returns aren’t great for the larger businesses involved (or even other small businesses).
Here’s why I think that’s the case:
1. No money
The small business is often run on a shoestring. Many struggle to keep themselves afloat, pay staff (if they have any), buy supplies etc…
That means funds are scarce for marketing, social media engagement, a web presence, or even a book-keeper.
With this in mind, other businesses simply don’t target them as prospects, let alone provide useful, low-cost resources for them to help themselves. Where’s the money in that?
2. No time
The small business owner is the most time poor person in all of business. Given that there are 4.7 million sole traders in the United Kingdom, for the most part they’re responsible for everything connected to their business.
They have no time to spend discussing their marketing needs or whether they should have a website or not.
If they’re talking, then they’re not doing; and if they’re not doing, then they’re certainly not earning.
3. No incentive
There’s simply no incentive for businesses to put the effort into helping these small business owners or sharing some simple tricks of the trade.
Such help could teach them to be more efficient with their time, help them with their digital skills so that they can use all the tools available to them. Most importantly of all, it would give them the opportunity to discuss what’s needed to grow their businesses.
If it isn’t worth it for other businesses to provide this help, then that advice needs to come from somewhere central.
A new approach
It isn’t all doom and gloom. What I’ve stated above is simple fact and it’s basic economies of scale. Until the small business grows into something that’s worth investing time on, other businesses won’t pay attention.
We need a new approach. Business skills being taught earlier in schools is a great starting point and one that I know people are championing.
But what about those who are in business now?
They need a central hub that provides short videos explaining some of the digital basics. Some need to learn how to use email or an online calendar, while plenty of us could benefit from basic spreadsheet templates.
A video format means everything could be consumed by the end user in their own time, when they can fit it in. No sole trader wants to spend a day or two in a classroom when they could be earning money.
Central and free
Access to this type of education has to be free and in one place. Yes, the videos might come from different sources but there’s a better chance for it to be seen if it is in one place. In the US, the SBA has hundreds of 30-minute courses on its website. Each course can be started and returned to when it suits the user.
Because there are over 5.7 million private businesses in the U.K. 5.4 million of them are micro businesses (micro businesses) and their numbers increase by around 4% each year. 4.3 million of them have no employees at all.
They outnumber all other private businesses by 22:1. That is a huge market to simply ignore.
Here at me:now, we’re trying to do our bit for the small business, by providing a unique way to keep them and their customers connected. Find out more about what we do here.
If we don’t help the small business to learn and grow, whose customer will they be when they go bust?