Investors know there’s really nothing small about small business. In America, small business accounts for 54% of all sales, according to the Small Business Administration. That’s not IBM (NYSE:IBMC). It’s not Apple (NASDAQ:AAPLC) It’s not even Whole Foods Market (:WFMN/A).
It’s the corner market or a computer repair shop or an online business that specializes in personalized cellphone covers. Someday that corner market or repair shop or online business might grow to the point where it has a ticker symbol of its own.
In the meantime, those small businesses and hundreds of thousands more like them, will continue to be the foundation of this country’s free market economy.
In honor of Small Business Week, Woo Trader spoke with two of the most knowledgeable people on the planet when it comes to small business – Marcus Lemonis, host of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSAC) owned, CNBC’s The Profit and Tim Davis, President of United Parcel Service’s (NYSE:UPSC) The UPS Store.
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Woo Trader: Tim, why is small business such a big part of the economy?
Tim Davis: Small business is the backbone of the economy. Marcus would tell you it’s the heartbeat. At The UPS store we’re very connected with small businesses. They are our most important customer and most frequent customer.
We’re always looking for insights to get more information from those small-business owners. Recently we fielded a survey and learned two very important things from small-business owners.
We learned first that in addition to being a difficult job to be a small-business owner two-thirds of the respondents told us that face-to-face contact with other small-business owners was critical to helping them build their business.
Secondly three quarters of them told us that expanding their marketing efforts was the other vital aspect to being able to grow their business and rank that higher above financial concerns.
Woo Trader: Given that, Marcus, can you share some marketing advice for owners of small businesses?
Marcus Lemonis: I can and you know typically it's like asking for a stock pick. I try not to do it because if it doesn't work I get in trouble.
What I tell people is that before they spend a lot of time and money worrying about what external marketing to do they need to get very focused on their internal marketing. Right away people say, “What does that mean?”
In order for you to tell consumers and the public about your business you have to really understand it yourself. You have to know what it means to you and why you do it. You have to know what the purpose of the company is and how you plan to fulfill it.
Then you have to make sure that the team - the employees working for you - also understand all that. Because if you’re creating an external marketing campaign about your business and your team or you don't know it and your customers come in and there is not a lineup of strategy or purpose, you gonna lose that customer right away.
So my number one piece of advice during Small Business Week is to make sure that you have your own marketing set inside your own company before you spend a dollar on the outside.
Woo Trader: Assuming that internal marketing is in place, what else can entrepreneurs do?
Marcus: I think one of the things that Tim and I both advocate is really understanding the social media platform. It's a free service. Whether it’s Snapchat or Vine or Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, figure out a way to communicate your company's message, images of your company or short videos of customers or employees.
It's a very affordable way to bring your business to life in an environment that quite frankly is becoming more reliant on that than television or radio.
Woo Trader: Tim, can you talk a little about the UPS Small Biz Salute campaign and what it does for small businesses?
Tim: Sure. Our Small Biz Salute campaign is an extension of Small Business Week that we’re looking to celebrate for the entire month of May.
We want consumers and other small businesses to get online, use social media, use the hashtag #smallbizsalute and say something to motivate or do a shoutout for small businesses in your community.
Woo Trader: Sounds like a worthy campaign. Where can people learn more and get involved?
Tim: Go to our website www.TheUPSstore.com/smallbizsalute.
Marcus: (laughs) Tim never plugs it, but you can also watch The Profit and learn a little bit about small business.
Tim: I’ve never missed an episode. Really.