Here is another important insight that will help vendors and entrepreneurs to better understand SMBs: most of them are passion driven. Now, it is not the same type of passion that drives C-level execs in the top floors of Fortune 500 companies. It is passion for what they do, the hobby that turned into a business. Understanding how SMBs are driven and what they do best will help you to better serve them. I know I am generalizing, but you will find it true in many cases, especially in smaller SMBs (owner operator).
People in the corporate world are passionate too. They tend to be passionate for success, people, influence, customers and many other “business passions,” but very seldom will you find a corporate exec that loved enterprise software from high school days and turned it into a profession… Look at LinkedIn: people describe themselves as business development professionals, high-tech execs or seasoned marketers but rarely as enthusiastic fishermen. The passion is for the profession and not for the type of business.
Small business owners are different: in many cases they start a business because they are passionate for the business type: fishing, camping, bridal services or website design and not for the role or profession they would take. In the first 30 seconds you will know exactly what their business is all about. In many cases you can even guess what they do just by looking at them… Since their passion is for a topic, they tend to like everything that gets them closer to the topic and hate the rest. So activities like marketing and lead generation often fall into the neglected zone, while activities like sales calls, demonstrations, business development, etc. get most of the focus. They also hate the logistics of running the business (collection, inventory management and the like).
This leads me to few simple rules:
Talk with small business owners about what they are passionate about. You will get their attention this way. If it is a one on one meeting, come ready to talk about the specific business. If you are creating a broader campaign, make sure you inject business specifics into it.
Learn what small businesses in your targeted segment hate to do. What are the pain points that bother them most?
Innovate around the “penalty zone”: the area that small businesses don’t like to deal with. It will be different by types and segments, but it will often be the furthest away from what they really like to do.
When you come back to sell the product or service, make sure to position the fact that it will help them focus on what they really love.