I must admit, I am not a fan of small business. Wait, it's not what you think. First, the facts: We live in a vast universe that is equally accessible to an eleven year-old or a Fortune 500 corporation. Customers do not care so much about who you are but instead, what you do, what you stand for and whether you can genuinely and uniquely answer: "Why should I do business with you?"
The "small business" term, or whatever we want to call it, is simply worthless; as a Federal classification companies with up to five hundred employees are considered small. In ObamaCare, companies with up to fifty employees are exempt. Confusing right? And pointless.
My issue is with those who often raise the "we are a small business" flag believing that it actually makes a difference to customers; and customers are the only ones that count anyway.
So what does "small business" mean when you say it?
"We are small and could really use more sales"
"Don't give your money to big business, we have mouths to feed"
"We can't afford smart marketing"
"We wish we could be bigger but we're not"
Heres the thing: Small thinking won't get you growing. Customers are looking for value and a great buying experience and in the 21 century size no longer matters.
Here's an example of how "small" thinking backfires:
"What is the name of your company?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, it does not appear that you are a customer, I can't help you, I'm sorry"
This type of "throwing the book" behavior happens in small and big businesses. It's not the size of your business that matters; it is all about your corporate culture, and how you define a customer,that will determine your destiny.
A customer is a customer! Some are paying, some are potential (we wrongly call them prospects), but you're in business for only one reason: Get more customers, hold on to existing ones.
Helping anyone goes a long way. Saying no, goes even farther, and to places and people you can't even imagine exist; one hundred and forty characters is all anyone needs to tell the world about your bad attitude or service.
One of my earlier mentors taught me a clever way to improve my writing; he said, "Eliminate the word from the sentence and see if it still means the same? If it does, delete that word"
So let's delete "small" from small business which will also get rid of "small thinking"; exactly what happens when you've convinced yourself that small gets you a free pass - it doesn't, it won't.
If you have to explain who you are, focus on what makes you different; how much you care and that everything you do is about value and experience.
Instead of saying "we are a small business" (think and) say instead "We are a business that genuinely cares about X. Allow us to show you what we do, how hard we work to earn your trust and how far we'll go to make sure you never want to leave."
PS If someone asks "How big is your company?" the only answer you should give is "Why does it matter? Are you looking to buy from a particularly sized business or are you looking for a company that will provide you with a solution, value and amazing buying experience, regardless of how many people work there? Let me be very honest: We can't afford a Super Bowl commercial or a golf outing - Are we in or out?" (of course, there is a nicer way to say it and I'm sure you get the point)