What Are Small Businesses Afraid Of?

by Fredric Paul

What scares SMBs is very different from the “pain points” they face. And effective marketing tops the list of biggest fears.

They are the nagging concerns that a small business owner can’t quite put his/her finger on. They are the powerful uncertainties that keep entrepreneurs awake even when they are exhausted from a day’s work.”

And as the chart below indicates, the list of greatest fears is quite different from the most important pain points.

Most important pain point

Poor sales31%
Taxes13%
Competition from larger businesses11%
Source: Willow & Co., December 2008; n=1509

Greatest fear

Not marketing effectively38%
Never being able to retire33%
Staying abreast of new technology20%
Source: Willow & Co., March 2009; n=509

For example, the top fear is the inability to market effectively, while the most cited pain point is poor sales. Boosting sales may be difficult, but it’s a fairly straightforward, easily measured issue. Worries about ineffective marketing, though, are more squishy, with no single clear solution.

Similarly pain points like taxes and competition are important, but at least they’re well defined. How are you supposed to answer a question like whether you’ll be able to retire? And staying abreast of technology is a constant struggle, not something you can solve once and for all (fortunately, though, bMighty is here to help…).

Warrillow uses these differences to help vendors communicate to small businesses, suggesting that solving pain points drives sales while solving fears drives trust. Pain points demand solutions, while fears require advice.

However you slice it, though, I think it’s a worthwhile distinction. For me, the biggest fear is not doing everything I can to make bMighty the indispensible tech resource for small and midsize businesses — in the face of resource constraints similar to those faced by any smaller organization. And like many business fears, there’s no single, simple answer to my fear. It’s an ongoing process, with victories and setbacks along the way.

Sound familiar? I’d like to hear what keeps you up at night.

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