Council Post: Why Small Businesses Lead To Big Results

While many small businesses struggled and ceased operations during the pandemic, others were able to deftly pivot their product and service offerings—so that they not only survived, they managed to…

Council Post: Why Small Businesses Lead To Big Results

Michelle Taylor, CEO of BETAH Associates, leads communications and event-management initiatives for clients.

getty It's not an exaggeration to say that small businesses power our nation. There are 32.5 million small businesses in the United States, making up 99.9% of all U.S. companies and accounting for 62% of net new job creation since 1995. A strong culture of entrepreneurship helps us drive innovation, economic growth and employment in the country. While many small businesses struggled and ceased operations during the pandemic, others were able to deftly pivot their product and service offerings—so that they not only survived, they managed to flourish because of their flexibility and resilience. As a small business CEO, I feel it is important for me to champion the capabilities and contributions of small companies, especially those that are Black-owned. Many big ideas originate—and come to life—in small businesses. I encourage other leaders to partner with small businesses for four key reasons.

Smaller organizations often offer the same level of talent and expertise as larger businesses, but with greater agility. Nimble teams can quickly identify problems and deliver solutions without having to manage a lot of red tape. The path from idea generation to project execution is much shorter when employees aren't bogged down by slow-moving paperwork or layers of bureaucracy.

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In 2021, in the midst of the changing guidelines of the pandemic, one of my company's nonprofit clients came to us with an urgent request. In just four weeks, they had to quickly pivot their plans from an in-person conference for 1,000 attendees with simultaneous speakers to a virtual event. The speed needed to provide the online platform, organize the speakers and communicate with invitees was paramount, and our small, agile team was able to spring into action immediately. I believe small businesses are perfectly designed to be engines for innovation and incubators for talent. Less bureaucracy and a flatter organizational chart can make it easier to foster talent, encourage employee growth and filter innovative ideas to the CEO. Tight-knit teams are a necessity in a small business—affording employees the opportunity to roll up their sleeves to solve problems. When a staff member sees a need, they are empowered to fill it. At our firm, there is no room to pass the buck on to others, so employees are responsible for devising creative solutions once a problem is identified.

  1. Diverse Perspectives

Small businesses that intentionally build teams with diversity in mind can increase access to varied perspectives and thought leadership. In a larger organization, employees might struggle to get their ideas heard, but in a small company, there are often more opportunities for every team member to voice their opinions, regardless of their position or background.

Our firm is a woman- and Black-owned small business—and we deliberately develop teams with this diversity in mind, calling on different points of view to keep us focused on the priorities of different groups. We hire seasoned professionals, as well as those early in their careers, and our staff is diverse across many aspects, including race, gender, ethnicity, religion and education.

Working on a recent project for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, we channeled the strengths of our different team members into communications around the first U.S. monkeypox vaccine locator tool. Our staff helped our client manage secure outreach to target audiences through the largest LGBTQ dating service in the U.S.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness

With lower overhead costs and flexible organizational structures, small businesses are often more cost-effective to work with than larger companies. And in a small business, every person on staff is likely used to wearing multiple hats, developing a variety of skills and learning to jump in wherever they're needed.

In our small business, I find that we can readily enter partnerships with other firms to augment our capacity when necessary. This allows us to pick up the talents of specialty staff and subject matter experts that we do not have on our full-time payroll, without passing on extraneous expenses to clients.

In my experience, small businesses are ideally positioned to provide innovative, flexible and cost-effective services to a wide range of clients. They have the in-house expertise and capacity to develop sophisticated and strategic solutions—and can easily pivot to meet clients' changing needs. In other words, a small business can have a big impact.

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