In the ever-changing economic landscape, corporate America gets most of the attention. Big companies announce their earnings or losses and markets and the media react. But the fortunes of small- to medium-sized businesses, or SMBs, are often overlooked when judging the state of the economy. This is despite the fact that SMBs comprise more than 54% of U.S. sales and account for 66% of all net new jobs in the U.S. according to a recent post by Zane Benefits. So it should come as no surprise that with the economy generally believed to be in a slow-and-steady growth mode, the fastest growing segment appears to be that of the SMBs. This is encouraging news for those who operate in and serve this market space. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at recent findings from a Business Insider survey, including remarkable figures on planned expansion:
About the Survey
The Business Insider survey polled 300 SMBs. About 95% of respondents were a company Founder or CEO, and 52% had been in business more than 5 years (36% more than 10 years). Approximately 94% of responding companies had fewer than 50 employees. Of those responding, 84% had annual revenues smaller than $5 million. So what did these companies have to say about their plans for 2015?
In short, 2015 for the surveyed SMBs will be about growth and expansion. For example, 58% of respondents said they plan to expand locally. This is up a whopping 22% from those that said they had planned to expand locally the year before. But this group didn’t just have their sights set on growing close to home; in large numbers, they also planned to expand nationally (34%) and internationally (27%). In both of these categories, the numbers were up from the previous year, with increases of 9% and 10% respectively.
With numbers like these, it’s not surprising that business owners expressed confidence heading into 2015. How confident? Nearly 1 in 4 respondents said they were “extremely confident” about their prospects. Overall, business owners had an average confidence rating of 77% (5.39 on a 7-point scale). This robust level of optimism, the report said, demonstrates “that the tumult of recent years is becoming more of a distant memory.”
Pain Points = Opportunity
Of course, even in this period of rising confidence and plans for growth, business owners admit to having persistent concerns. Two of the biggest “pain points” for business owners are that they “don’t have the time or expertise to figure everything out” (49%), and that “they have difficulty managing all the moving parts of their business” (23%). Respondents also cited concerns over the rising cost of customer acquisition as well as declining volumes for current customers.
Naturally, these concerns create opportunities for sales consultants and resources serving this market. (The survey also showed that 71% of business owners say they typically seek advice for operating their businesses.)
Priorities for 2015
So if owners of small- to medium-sized businesses are optimistic about the future and open to external advice, what are their top priorities in the coming year? Increasing revenues came in on top with 79% citing it as a priority. Establishing new customer relationships was next, at 67%; followed by a desire to increase profits (60%). Other priorities noted by more than 40% of respondents included expanding into new markets and improving customer relationships, both at 46%.
At Sales Xceleration, we are not surprised by the results of this survey. We have found that the owners of small- to medium-sized businesses are always pre-disposed to seeking outside guidance instead of adding to internal staff. They like being able to “get a piece of an expert,” such as a Sales Xceleration Outsourced VP of Sales rather than taking on the responsibility of supporting another employee.
What’s more, we know that this market is huge! In fact, in a typical US metropolitan area, there are approximately 50,000 businesses with annual sales between $500k and $10m. Of those businesses, 80% lack basic sales structures, processes and tools to effectively compete!
In other words, 8 of every 10 businesses need the help of qualified sales leadership professionals. At Sales Xceleration, we call this the “sales leadership gap” and our Advisors become the bridges for SMBs between almost certain failure and a brighter future.
And as the Business Insider survey shows, there has never been a better time to become a trusted sales resource in the SMB market space. So if you are ready to learn more about how Sales Xceleration can help you serve small- to medium-sized businesses, contact us today at 844.874.7253.