Universal Truths for Small Businesses

By Amy Lahti | February 6, 2013

Small businesses are remarkable in their diversity. The products small businesses sell, the way those products are marketed, the business models, the owners themselves – there’s exceptional variety, and that’s a great thing! However, there are some things all small businesses have in common – some “universal truths” that any small business owner should be aware of. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, just a good start.

All Small Businesses Have Competition. Many small business owners say to themselves (and to others), “There is NO ONE else that does what I do/sells what I sell. I don’t have any real competition because my product or service is totally unique.” That may be true. But customer dollars are finite. Even if your business doesn’t have a direct competitor, something is competing with you for the money people can spend with your business. Even Facebook (a very unique product that dominates the market) competes for people’s time, and for advertisers’ money. Always have a realistic view of your competition.

All Small Business Owners Need At Least Some Familiarity with Employment Law. Many small businesses think that because they do not have official employees (and maybe never plan to), they don’t need to worry about employment law. Actually, if you pay anyone any amount to do something resembling work for your business, it benefits you to understand a little bit about employment law. A lot of small businesses run into trouble when they don’t understand the difference between an employee and a contractor, or laws about youth employment that still apply even if you’re hiring your own child. WESST can help you figure out which laws apply to your business. You’ll also find a variety of free information about small businesss labor laws on the Department of Labor website.

All Small Business Owners Need Some Kind of Web Presence. You don’t need a fancy website that costs thousands of dollars, or a Facebook page with thousands of fans. You don’t need e-commerce if you don’t want to sell on the web. But people will look for your business online, and having simple information available for them starts their relationship with you off on the right foot. You can do a simple Facebook or LinkedIn company page, pay for an expanded business listing with Google or an online directory, or do a basic site in WordPress. Having your own little space on the web for your business is good branding, good customer service, and good marketing, all rolled into one.

All Small Business Owners Need Friends or Friendly Contacts Who are Other Small Business Owners. No one understands the daily triumphs, struggles, challenges, and opportunities of a small business owner better than another small business owner. Other small business owners are also great sources of ideas, inspiration, collaboration, and partnership. Making new friends isn’t easy, but it is well worth the effort. Connect with some new people on LinkedIn and ask them to coffee. Go to a business networking event with dual goals: promote your business, and meet some new people you can connect with on a friendly level. Having someone to bounce new ideas off of, or commiserate with over a challenging day, can make being in business for yourself much easier, and less lonely.

At WESST, we’re here to help you understand the nuts and bolts of running a small business, and can help you with all of the “universal truths” we mention above. We’d love to hear your own “universal truths” from your small business, so, please add them to the comments below.

About the Author

Amy Lahti

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