Our featured guest in this episode of Small Business Trends Radio is Steve King, a Research Affiliate at the Institute for the Future. Steve is also the project leader for the Intuit – IFTF Future of Small Business project and has over 25 years of industry and consulting experience including having lived and worked abroad. Steve’s blog is SmallBizLabs.com.
Here’s a sampling from the show:
- Demographic trends are changing. — Not that long ago it was only middle-aged men who met our perceived definition of small business owner. Now, women, immigrants, baby boomers and even teens are forming new businesses at a growing rate. There is no longer one set of demographics and vendor marketing should reflect the changing nature of the small business customer.
- Partnering between large and small businesses is occurring more frequently. — Large companies such as Google are now partnering with small and mid-size firms, whereas a year or two ago, they were partnering strictly with larger firms. By partnering with smaller niche players, Google can now provide technology and services to these niche markets, with the small business partner receiving a percentage of the profits from those sales. These new partnerships differ from the traditional relationship dynamics between large and small businesses, which were either competitors or vendor/purchaser.
- Large corporations without an obvious connection to small businesses are partnering to find new sources of product innovation. — Proctor & Gamble is an example of a company that is finding new sources of innovation by partnering with smaller firms. For instance, fifty percent of their product innovation is coming from outside, through licensing. This presents an opportunity for smaller businesses, that can now find markets through the power of Proctor & Gamble. If you want shelf space at Walmart – as a small business it’s very difficult. But show up with Proctor & Gamble branding – and it’s much easier.
Steve provided many useful insights into the changing world of small businesses and how it impacts the marketplace. To hear them, click the player below.