SmallBizPreneur: when small business owners need to think more like an entrepreneur.
Is a Small Business Owner, an Entrepreneur and a Startup Founder the same thing? TLDR; no. (And the difference is very important.)
Go to any search site and type in “small business.” Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Most likely, you’ll come across articles for grants, loans, ideas, the SBA, tax, health options and other general “operational needs” information. (And, if you are reading this at the beginning of 2021, you might see information on federal funding, PPP, EIDL, etc.)
Now, go back to the search site and enter in “entrepreneur” (or “startup”). Yes, I’ll wait.
For “entrepreneur” you are served up articles covering types of entrepreneurs, how to be an entrepreneur or how to become on, how to start and grow a business, how to start and grow a business with no money….
For “startup” you see advice, communities, lessons, tools and resources, courses, webinars, podcasts, programs… you get the gist.
Or, do you?
Why is it that what seemingly is the same thing (business owner), just with different titles, receives search returns that are fairly (and significantly) different? My guess is: the ecosystem. And the cool, or even sexiness, factor.
Startups are made by COOL KIDS. Entrepreneurs are CKITs (Cool Kids in Training) and Small Businesses are - what are equated to - the Dad/Mom Bods.
[Note: If you are a small business owner and you do not have a Mom or a Dad bod, please note, that is just an analogy. Watch the Progressive ad (‘your parents”) to understand where I’m going with this. Let’s not squabble here.]
And, therefore these different “entities” have access to different content, programs, mentors. Sadly. I mean, there are plenty of COOL KID small business owners that really don’t want to be shown the “Bueller” equivalent of information. Where is the Lamborghini of content? With the Startups. Where’s the Porsche or even Audi type of programs? Entrepreneurs. What do the Small Businesses get? Subaru. (Not dissing Subaru’s. They are solid vehicles. Just like the SBA and SBCD and other content websites out there focusing on small businesses.)
Why can’t Small Businesses get some HOT LOVE?
This has been my bee in my bonnet (such an old school phrase, yes, but it works) for years. You may even call it my quest. To find a really good place (website, program, course, webinar… something) for small business owners to get hip, cool content, lessons and information that helps them grow. Yes, there is a TON of information out there. But, seriously, go look at it. The same content re-written over and over shuffled around in different paragraphs. Write a business plan. Start with an Executive Summary. Here’s how to get incorporated.
Where entrepreneurs and startups get content with terms like: Lean Canvas and JTBD and Avatars and Angels and Strategy. But, this information is focused around founders who are searching for a business model or a problem or a market with one goal in mind: to grow and scale as fast as possible. Which means the content is all about fail fast, learn, pivot. Throw things against a wall, little by little, get out of the building, brainstorm with your cohort, talk through pros and cons, go back and rethink your hypothesis, etc.
A small business owner doesn’t really have that luxury. They are building an entity to help them thrive and exist. Serve their audience. Stabilize their cash flow. Sustain their family. But, still, why are they stuck with 1970 textbook content? (Yes, there are some GREAT books and thinking from the 70s and 80s that we are all still using. The translation just gets more fun in the startup groups.)
And, yet, as indicated above, they are stuck with the old school teachings, but 80% of the new school teachings would apply to them. That’s the interesting part, though. In a startup or entrepreneur class, the teacher is focused on the student having an innovators mindset. Teaching them to (as covered above) constantly seek out being completely different. And pivoting when they either can’t solve the problem for the market or find the market for the problem. In a small business class they are taught follow the old school system. Get your product developed. Get set up with a sales team. Plan your marketing. Set up your finances. Trudge forward.
My question is: Why can’t a small business be taught how to pivot? Especially when situations like 2020 happens to all of us?