“Small business” is much too broad. It includes, by various definitions, companies that have up to 500 employees. I don’t know about your small town, but in mine, that would be a *huge* business.
|You have to start where you are.
Then you can grow.
And the term “entrepreneur” is even worse, with dozens of definitions that could include “anyone who starts a business” all the way up to successful founders like Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Brands. That’s a lot of territory. (See Are you an entrepreneur or small business owner? for the discussion.)
So when a small business person wants to find help, they search online and find tons of material that is generic to every definition of small business. Usually, the author had a particular kind or size of business in mind, but never spelled that assumption out, so the reader has to guess whether it applies to them.
This means that there is not enough differentiated help and information for small business.
We’re going to change that here. I’m dividing our entrepreneurship topics up into three categories:
1. Dreaming: for those who are dreaming or planning to start a business of their own.
2. Doing: for those who have a business, and have grown to the point that it’s time (or almost time) to hire that first employee.
3. Leveling up: for those who have a business, but are looking to step up to a new level.
Notice that in each of my categories, the business is facing a stumbling block, or a stepping stone. That’s usually when we go looking for help, right?
Of course, there is overlap. Everyone needs customer service improvements. We could all use ideas to inspire or innovate from. So many articles here will show up in more than one category.
I’ll be writing more about each division and creating a page full of resources for you, based on those stages.
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I, too, find problems with the “definitions”. Most have political purposes- to benefit larger entities with “small business set-asides”. Other political reasons are to flatter one (or oneself) that by working 1 hour on a side job at home renders one to be an entrepreneur (like it’s not a mindset that is needed, not the job), or that lifestyle businesses are entrepreneurial ventures.
Jason Hull says
I like your definitions here. I’ve spoken for several years at the National Veterans Small Business Conference (http://www.nationalveteransconference.com), and when I first started attending, the conference was a catch-all conference for veteran-owned businesses, small or not. I lobbied for years to create tracks, and, not surprisingly, they looked very similar to yours (paraphrased): new businesses/looking to start businesses; established, but not yet big; and ready to become big. Each has different needs, e.g.
New: what structure do I use? Do I open up a line of credit, etc.?
Established: when do I enact HR policies? What do I look for in hiring? How do I leverage partnerships? etc.
Becoming big: exit strategies, acquisition strategies, regulations, Obamacare, etc.
I think the designations are smart. It’ll be interesting to see you cover “how does a small town business become big” in the upcoming months!
This will help those of us who get lost in the maze of information and then dont do all we should to be the best we can.
Jake Hulbert says
I appreciate you scrutinizing common business language. You’re absolutely right… what means one thing to one person can mean something totally different to another.
I look forward to reading more of your articles.
Michael Jones says
I love the clarification. I found myself looking for another category. Starting a business, not having any business yet. Lots of work before launch, especially if you are developing a consumer product that involves a development and tooling lead time, marketing etc.
Becky McCray says
Thanks for the added thoughts and encouragement, friends!
Michael, that’s a good point, and one we don’t often touch on. I’ll put some thought into how we cover the long-lead-time business from small towns.