There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of niches that small businesses fill within this country. (On Vertical IQ, we cover over 450 of these sectors.) Yet, despite this enormous variety, there are certain aspects of running a small business that many of these companies have in common: concerns about capital and cashflow, decisions about marketing and advertising, challenges with attracting, retaining, and training employees, keeping up with the competition, just to name a few.
Maximizing your knowledge
As a professional services provider calling on and working with small to mid-sized business (SMB) owners, you need a unique knowledge base. Yes, you need to understand your client’s or prospect’s industry as a whole, and you also should know specific details about their particular business. But it also is beneficial if you have a broader understanding of the issues and opportunities that impact most all small businesses.
There are a number of great organizations out there that provide advocacy, information, and resources designed to help small businesses prosper in the U.S. We have created a list of the ones that we think are a great place to start when doing research on small business optimization. By tracking these organizations, you’ll be dialed into the heart and soul of small businesses you advise.
5 small business organizations to know
- Small Business Advisory Council (SBAC): The SBAC is an Illinois-based advocacy group created to empower small businesses in a number of ways. It offers non-partisan promotion of pro-small business legislation, and it also helps connect entrepreneurs with mentors and mutually beneficial strategic partners. Additionally, SBAC provides educational programming on business best practices and provides other benefits such as discounts and rebates to help lower the costs of running a business. Their website has a Resources section that contains links to a number of tools and useful information.
- National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB): The nonprofit, nonpartisan NFIB bills themselves as “the voice of small business,” as they advocate on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners. The organization works with legislators in Washington, D.C., as well as in all 50 state capitals, to promote small business-friendly laws and regulations. The Resources section of their website includes information on a wide array of topics, from financing/accounting to strategy to legal compliance, and more, all easily searchable by category.
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA was created by Congress in 1953 to serve as an independent agency providing loans, government contracts, counseling sessions, advocacy, and other forms of assistance for America’s small businesses. Among their resource partners are the SCORE counseling and mentoring program, Women’s Business Center, Veteran’s Business Outreach Center, and Small Business Development Centers—a network of centers across all 50 states that provides counseling and training to help people start, grow, and expand their small business.
- Small Business Majority: Small Business Majority is a national small business advocacy group that aims to ensure that small businesses and entrepreneurs remain a pivotal part of our economy; they have offices in roughly half of the 50 states. Using their extensive scientific opinion polling, focus groups, and economic research, the organization engages small business owners and policymakers to promote pro-small business legislative solutions at the state and national level. Their website includes their research findings, as well as a number of federal and state-specific resources for entrepreneurs.
- National Small Business Association (NSBA): Touting themselves as the nation’s first small business advocacy organization, the non-partisan NSBA has been lobbying Congress on behalf of small businesses for 80 years. In addition to their legislative advocacy work, NSBA also provides a wealth of research on their website on the state of small business in this country, including survey, polling, and economic data.
Getting the skinny on small biz
According to 2018 figures from the SBA, there are 30.2 million small businesses in the United States—that’s a staggering 99.9 percent of all businesses in this country! These businesses employ nearly 59 million people and make up almost half (47.5 percent) of all jobs in the U.S.
The products and services small businesses produce, and the jobs they create, truly make up the backbone of our economy. If you are advising SMBs, it is worth your time to explore some of these small business advocacy and resource organizations so you can get a better understanding of the opportunities and concerns that are top-of-mind for small business owners.