According to the most recent information on the SBA’s website, they define and categorize small businesses according to size standards as defined under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Size standards are numerical definitions of what constitutes a small business. Size standards have been established for types of economic activity, or industry, and are defined based on either the average number of employees over the past 12 months or the average annual revenues over the past three years. The most common standards are as follows:
- $0.75 million for most agricultural industries
- $33.5 million for heavy construction industries
- $14.0 million for specialty trade contractors
- 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries
- 100 employees for all wholesale trade industries
- $7.0 million for most retail and service industries
It’s painfully clear looking at the standards above, that a great majority of businesses in Florida who have a dream to expand and succeed in their industry, and with decent, valuable products and services don’t even meet the “size standards” that classifies them as a small business. Yet, classifying as a small business is necessary to enjoy certain benefits offered to those who do meet the SBA standards. SBA loans, bank loans and even most private lenders basically use the same classification standards. Benefits, mainly working capital and small business start-up loans that small business owners need to compete and succeed seemed to be reserved for those who already have cash reserves.
Basically, affordable resources for “smaller” small businesses like those who don’t fall under NAIC’s standards for small business are sparse, although they do exist.
In my opinion the SBA and NAIC’s standards are simply unrealistic (and unfair). Perhaps these might be fair standards if they reclassified small business as ‘medium” sized businesses. It begs an answer to the question, “If these standards are what defines a true “small business” then how do we classify the Sole proprietors, LLC’s or others who do not meet the standards set forth by NAICs?
The Heart of a “True” Small Business
The majority of “true” small businesses in Florida, many who have been our clients for over a decade, simply do not have access to much-needed working capital. This is due in part to SBA standards and economic corruption. Banks aren’t standing in line to loan money to the woman trying to start-up her gourmet cake pop business, nor are they handing out money to most sole proprietors. Sure, lenders must cover their risks but they didn’t think about that when it came to real estate and Wall Street– but why should they have? They wagered on getting bailed out, and their gamble paid off while small business owners continued pinching pennies, wearing themselves out, building and running companies on shoestring budgets due to the lack of capital available to them. We’ve heard stories from clients who have put their heart and soul into their small businesses prior to finding our affordable marketing services.
According to recent surveys, more than half of small businesses polled (52 percent) would like a bigger marketing and advertising budget to help them grow their businesses. In short, small-business owners simply don’t have much to work with. About 67 percent who do have a marketing and advertising budgets for 2012 plan to spend just over $2,000. No wonder small businesses have increased their reliance on social media. But is this the right way to go? Most Tampa SEO and web development firms approach small businesses much in the same way that the SBA and banks do. If you’re a small start-up company with little capital to work with, their pricing makes it impossible to afford them. For instance, we recently had a family member who was starting a new business ask around for quotes from other web design firms in Tampa who came up on page one and two on Google search. She requested a basic web design, maybe 5 to 10 pages. The company quoted her $12,000. Quite honestly, that’s about $10,000 over what most small business owners have budgeted for in 2012. As she obtained other quotes she found that this was pretty much the norm give or take a couple thousand dollars. I believe that small business owners have developed the attitude that marketing services are simply unattainable and unaffordable, and this may be why it takes so long for them to secure outside assistance from a professional marketing company.
Spending All Day on Social Media a Waste of Time?
Florida small business owners must do their research and be extremely realistic and informed before depending on Facebook or other social media outlets to increase their sales revenue. Many companies, including GM who spent a fortune on advertising have decided that Facebook is not yielding the results expected. Pay attention to the fact that GM spent a ton of money and still was not satisfied with the results. Given that, if you’re a small business spending all of your time and even some money on Facebook or Facebook ads in an attempt to generate revenue, while ignoring the importance of establishing good organic ranking on the search engines, you may not necessarily be making the wisest choice.
We’re not saying it’s a waste of time but we are pointing out that you must look at a variety of criteria before you put all of your time or money into any one form of advertising or marketing…especially if you’re a “smaller” small business. Your time is money and your money may be better spent elsewhere depending on your target market and the product or service that you are offering. Reading articles on the web about SEO, marketing and social media advertising then trying to digest and implement it in an effort to become an expert in the field can destroy your business. Information often times is as reliable as the creation of statistics, which can be manipulated to serve another’s purpose. If you are a business owner and you are spending all day on Facebook trying to generate business, you’re most likely in trouble.
It’s imperative to realize that affordable and creative marketing for Florida business does exist, but you have to do your research, make calls and ask questions prior to hiring a web design or search engine optimization firm in Tampa, Florida or anywhere else.
DIY Marketing for Florida Small Businesses, Feasible or Futile?
The DIY approach to marketing looks like a feasible plan to some small business owners who feel their options and budgets are limited. In time all businesses must have a budget in place for marketing which includes search engine optimization, web design services and even marketing materials and printing. Many small business owners truly believe that if they can work their personal social media accounts they’ll have instant success– Simply throw up a Facebook page and thrive. Not true. This approach to marketing a Florida business is for smaller businesses a time staking, futile attempt to increase revenue.
How DO You Market on a Shoe String Budget?
Marketing or advertising is a must, but allocating funds for the cost of web design and internet marketing as well as printed and promotional materials is necessary to build your Tampa, Florida business. Because the cost can fluctuate greatly from one website marketing firm to another we’re offering some tips for finding affordable small business web design search engine optimization and cross marketing services in Florida:
- Do your research and spend your money wisely. Small businesses are always searching for affordable web design and marketing firms in Tampa, Florida. Web design and SEO pricing that is affordable to some small businesses, may not be cost-effective or affordable for others. There are Florida web design and marketing firms who charge enormous fees for their services, yet they do not necessarily produce better results for their clients. Alternatively, there are marketing firms and web designers in Florida who offer the cheapest SEO and website design services in Tampa, however they may not be established or stable or they may be outsourcing your work to companies abroad.
- Be prepared to hire a Tampa website designer plus a Florida search engine optimization firm who can assist you with your efforts to succeed. Choose a local Florida marketing company who can analyze your small business to see where your money will best be spent. Do your research and find a Tampa web design and SEO firm that is affordable and who is willing to extend you some credit. This helps with cash flow while you build your small business.
- Understand that spending all of your time on Facebook or other social media while ignoring the organic ranking of your website or utilizing other cross marketing strategies is generally a colossal waste of time and energy.
- Remember that no matter how hard you go about trying to build your own website DIY style by the use of templates or by using sites that offer free websites or software there is a time when it will be necessary to call on a professional Tampa website design and search engine optimization firm. SEO can suffer when utilizing free website software or sites.
- Work with a firm who will work together with you to market and promote your business. In other words it’s okay to take part in your marketing but find a firm that will lead you in the right direction.
- Once you begin looking for a Tampa marketing firm to assist you, remember there are Tampa, Florida marketing and web design firms who are actually paying for their high-ranking via sponsored ads. These firms may charge much, much more for their services. Remember they have to account for overhead, which includes these expensive ads. This simply equates to charging their customers more for the services they obtain.
Although it’s proven difficult for many small businesses to find and afford the appropriate and necessary marketing services that are needed to expand their small businesses, it’s not impossible. Making smart and informed choices about your advertising can have you ahead of the game in no time. Maintain realistic expectations and get some help with developing a strategic marketing plan for your Florida business. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune and you don’t have to do it alone.
For more information about affordable marketing and design services for your Florida small business, visit http://www.websitestampabay.com or call