Why Very Small Businesses are a Perfect Fit for Today’s Market

As it becomes more and more feasible for anyone with a great idea to build a sustainable business without a massive infrastructure or hundreds of employees, small businesses run by motivated entrepreneurs have practically become the standard. 26 million companies in the US — not just in the tech industry — run on less than 20 employees, and a great majority of those are operated by just one person.

Some of the world’s greatest and most successful products were built on the back of one person with one great idea. We in the startup space recognize this — that small businesses have always been and continue to be the primary drivers of innovation and change. But it’s still worth examining why small businesses are so powerful and what they are doing that so perfectly suits what modern consumers are looking for.

The term “small business” is usually so loaded with political and economic implications that we usually fall back on the old favorite, startup. But many of the same principles still apply. Small groups of people or single individuals have the capacity for great change and greater success. That capacity is proven. Startups just seem to work perfectly for what today’s market is looking for, but why is that exactly?

In many ways, it all comes back to how ideas are marketed today. Before the advent of digital marketing, traditional advertisers could win by spending the most money and getting the most attention on TV screens. Now that there are so many ideas flying around and so many channels on the internet, no one can fully buy people’s attention anymore. People have more choice than ever when it comes to deciding what ideas are worth buying into. That’s great, but it does mean that you have to put a lot more work into getting eyes on your idea.

One of the foremost solutions for getting that kind of attention is the story. The power storytelling can have when it comes to selling ideas and products to today’s audiences is incredible. So how do startups and small businesses fit into that paradigm? Pretty well as it turns out.

In the effort to identify the kind of story that allows businesses to reach people, we’ve discovered that the best way to engage with your average consumer comes back to the earliest storytelling tradition, the hero’s journey.

Everybody loves an underdog. That’s the hero’s journey in essence, an unlikely individual stepping forward and proving themselves the match of whatever challenge they’re facing. So what better underdog is there than the small business trying to succeed in a world of established mega-corporations and business monoliths?

If leveraged in the right way, this basic truth is incredibly valuable to the startup trying to get consumers on their side. People want to see your startup succeed. They put themselves in your shoes and look to follow your example: beating the odds when it seemed impossible, or succeeding in a space so saturated with people trying to sell their own vision. That’s a story worth telling, that’s a story that people care about, and that’s a story that only small businesses can tell.

Still, it’s incredibly important to tell that story in the right way. You can’t make yourself the only hero of the story if you want people to empathize with you. That kind of self-centered approach is an easy way to turn people away. Make your audience the hero, tell them how much their contribution matters to your success and they will want to help you on the way there. Only small businesses can do that. Clients and customers are just small fish in a big pond for huge businesses, but for you, each and every one of them is a critical piece to your growth and your progress as a company. Make sure they know that.

If a small business can succeed, then anyone can. That’s the story that has pushed growth for all the greatest startups that you can think of and empowered digital marketing to overtake its traditional counterpart. That’s the story that makes small businesses so powerful and that’s the story that you should be telling if you want some part of that success to be your’s.

– ZK

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