Breaking news: there are no small business owners
According to 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data, there were a total of 5.90 million businesses with employees in the United States. Of these, 5.88 million, or 99.7% had fewer than 500 workers. 5.27 million (89.2%) had fewer than 20 workers, and 3.64 million (61.7% of the total) had 4 or fewer employees. These figures do not include the more than 20 million businesses with no employees. The Small Business Administration defines a small business as any firm with fewer than 500 employees. Regardless of where your company draws the line, if you sell B2B, it’s a safe bet that most of your target companies are “small.”
Despite this, you should avoid using the term small business owners in your marketing copy or content. Here’s why.
There is nothing small about running a business.
The owners of most small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are, by necessity, jacks of many trades. On any given day, they may have to deal with sales, marketing, finance, IT, operations, HR . . . sometimes all of the above. The smaller the business, the more the owner and any other employees have on their plate. Does any of that seem small?
Moreover, who likes to be called small? Companies are small; people aren’t. Especially business owners. Refer to small business owners simply as business owners in your marketing assets. There are few large, privately-held companies. If a business has an owner, it likely qualifies as small. Using the term small business is fine.
By the way, avoid using the term SMB in your marketing, as well. It’s a commonly used acronym within the B2B marketing community, but it’s unlikely to be understood by the audience to which it refers.
Get insights and tips for marketing to small and midsize businesses from the people who speak SMB.