There’s a regular meme that makes the rounds every time there’s a dramatic shift in the economy one way or the other, with someone explaining why “now is the best time to start a business.” However, there are still always big concerns, especially during a big downturn like the one we’re currently facing. I can’t even begin to count the number of other startup or small business operators I’ve spoken to, where the opening question is “how’s the economy treating you?” or “how are you holding up in this economy?” And, perhaps it’s a fair question in terms of small talk between business owners, but I’d suggest that the true small business manifesto is that the economy doesn’t matter. It’s always a good time to be a small business. Here’s why:
As a small business owner, you’re not relying on the entire economy. You’re relying on your customers. If you offer something of value, you should be able to sell it to your customers, regardless of the economy. Sure, some of your customers may be more careful in spending, but that’s just an opportunity for you.
As a small business, you can be a lot more flexible. Big businesses have all sorts of legacy items that tie them down and make them slow. Smaller businesses shouldn’t have as many entanglements and can change and adapt much faster. If the economy goes south, then a small business can shift its strategy faster.
A small business is often closer to its customers, so it’s better able to serve customer needs, no matter what the economy. Today, customers are looking for ways to get more for less. If you can figure out how to better provide that, you can run circles around others.
A small business doesn’t need to bring in as much revenue every quarter to support the business. You’re small: this means your expenses aren’t as big. You just need to figure out how to make sure you’re covering your expenses, and then look for opportunities for growth beyond that.
As a small business, you have a better sense of when the economy is shifting. Big comapnies may claim they have a broader view, but they’re looking at numbers. You’re talking to customers.
So, as a small business owner, I say, let’s stop asking each other how the economy is impacting us. Let’s impact the economy by focusing on ways to connect with our customers and give them what they need — and the economy will sort itself out. We’ve got businesses to run.