Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grading Small Business Success

How well are small businesses performing? We know that small business owners face challenges to create and operate their businesses successfully. Big companies have numbers of employees to manage the functions that the small business owner does alone or with a very few others.

So what are the biggest challenges to small business owners, and how do small businesses across America stack up? The Small Business Success Index (SCSI) has been created to measure performance on six dimensions found most challenging to small businesses and is intended to track small business performance over time.

The 28 question national survey is conducted twice a year and provides individual scores for six dimensions, as well as an overall performance score. The most recent overall score is 75% -- a “C” grade. Although small businesses got better individual grades for workforce (78), customer service, (91) and compliance (law, city and county regulation) (89), they do less well in marketing and innovation (70), capital access (69), and computer technology (75).

Not surprisingly in the digital age, the importance of technology emerges as the primary difference between small businesses struggling or failing and those that are succeeding, as well as capital access, marketing and innovation, workforce, customer service and compliance. Small businesses using more technology tools get higher scores than those who use less – among them online marketing (goods and services offered, ability to order), email capability (and quick response to queries), use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

The Chamber of Commerce is in preliminary discussions about surveying small businesses within Pierce County – to enable us to identify where small business owners “here” need to focus to become more successful, and to engage in programs to help in the process. Stay tuned.

Guest Blogger: Merl Simpson
Associate Professor, School of Business
Pacific Lutheran University

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