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Study: SMBs Enjoy Being the Boss but Struggle to ‘Do It All’

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On a daily basis, many SMBs, especially the “just me” businesses, make a variety of business decisions related to client services, invoicing, PR, marketing, content creation, new business, IT and the list goes on.  In other words, they do it all and according to a new study, that is the most difficult part of running a small business.

This week Constant Contact released new data compiled from a survey of 785 small business owners. Among respondents, 43% said that having to wear so many different hats (marketing, operations manager, customer relations, etc.) was the most difficult part of running their business.

On the other hand, they said that the best part of running a small business was freedom (30%), control (29%), making decisions (19%) and putting their stamp on things (12%).

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From a marketing standpoint, the above attitudes seem favorable for DIY tools and services. This introduces a new possibility to the discussion of SMB retention and digital adoption. While proving ROI, attribution, pricing and perceived value remain a challenge for service providers and vendors, perhaps another major roadblock is the business owner’s desire to take chances, make mistakes and learn as they go.

Either way, the digital universe isn’t making it any easier on anyone.  At our first Digital Boot Camp for business owners in LA, one SMB said that keeping up with all the new channels and the changes being made on existing ones is almost impossible.

To further complicate things, the number of “critical” digital venues to manage continues to grow for SMBs. According to a recent study from Thrive Analytics, SMBs went from using 6 venues for promotional and marketing efforts in 2013 to 6.6 in 2014.

So in addition to doing everything for their business, today’s SMB is also faced with the daunting task of managing social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.), paid search, SEO, emails, websites, blogs, videos, content marketing, listing management, etc. With brands dedicating entire teams to each of these individual venues, the SMB faces an uphill battle online.

The study shows an appetite, and in fact, a pleasure these SMBs feel from trying new things, learning and being in charge. When it comes to marketing, there’s often desire to do it themselves (DIY) but a recognition that there are simply too many things to understand and monitor in addition to running the business.

Given this dilemma, a solution built on educating and empowering local entrepreneurs, rather than a full-blown do-it-for-me (DIFM) approach, may ultimately be more satisfying for them and successful for providers.

One Response to “Study: SMBs Enjoy Being the Boss but Struggle to ‘Do It All’”

  1. Joe – this is a great post, particularly your last sentence. We are seeing so much FUD and confusion thrown at SMBs when it comes to their online presence and digital marketing. It’s easy to be frozen in their tracks due to this explosion of information. It may seem obvious to provide a full service solution to take this off their hands, but nobody understands their local market and customer base like them – not only are the good ones inclined to do some/all of it themselves, but I’d argue that it won’t be successful UNLESS they have a strong hand in their digital marketing strategy.

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