When Small Businesses Shouldn’t Act Like A Small Business

I think one of the most significant problems small businesses have when it comes to growth is that they maintain a small business mindset. Now if you’re one of those that likes being “mom and pop,” then this article isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you’re a small business owner that has big dreams and big goals, there is no better time than now than to start getting out of the small business, mom and pop mindset, and start thinking like the business you want to grow into. And the first place to start is with your online marketing campaigns.

One of the great things about online marketing over the past decade is that it allowed small businesses to compete against the big guys on more of a level playing field than the offline world allows. Over the past few years, though, the playing field has been tilting like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. As more big corporations jump into online marketing and invest tens, hundreds, and even thousands of thousands of dollars each year, it becomes increasingly difficult for small businesses to gain headway.

That’s not to say there are no opportunities for small businesses to succeed online; quite the opposite, actually. All this means is that small businesses that don’t have the capital to invest need to be more creative in how they invest in online marketing.

It’s not how big you are, but how smart you can be with your money

It’s not always about achieving number one rankings. In fact, as a marketer, I’m getting more and more annoyed with small businesses who come and ask if I can get them #1 for their keyword. Is it possible? Sure. Is it possible with their budget? Not a chance. You won’t get far on $500/month up against companies that invest $10,000 per month.

But a small business does not have to invest $10,000 per month in order to do well online. And success is also relative. Most small businesses are not set up to handle the same kind of success as large businesses. You have to grow into that. But every small business owner investing in online marketing needs to keep their expectations in line with what can be done and what kind of success they can handle. Budget doesn’t always make or break success, but it does play a role in it. The key is to find the areas where your budget will see the most return.

Think big, move swiftly

As a small business owner, you’ll also need to determine how your own time is best spent. Is it beneficial for you to do most of the marketing work yourself, or to hire someone to do it for you? Personally, I like to pay people to do things so I have more time to run my business. But not everybody has that luxury. But part of thinking like a big business is being willing to not do everything yourself and put it in the hands of those who can really bring you success.

Sometimes the best thing a small business owner can do is to think like a big business. You won’t be able to do everything a big business does, but you can take lessons from what they do and determine how best to scale them to your situation. The one advantage a small business has over a large business is adaptability. Think big, move fast, and invest in areas where your larger competition is overspending and underperforming.

You don’t have to be a big business to win in the online marketing game. But you do need to get out of the mom and pop rut. Be willing to take risks, but do so wisely and well-informed. And like big businesses, be willing to fail a little here and there if it teaches you how to succeed bigger later. You don’t have to spend like a big business, but you won’t go far so long as you keep thinking like a small business.

Stoney deGeyter is CEO of Pole Position Marketing. The Small Is Beautiful column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing: General | Small Is Beautiful


About The Author: is president of Pole Position Marketing, a leading online marketing strategy company established in 1998 and currently based in Canton, Ohio.

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