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Busting the Small Business Myth: "We Don't Do That Here"

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Limited resources and size constraints often force small businesses to forgo a formal sales, marketing, or product development team.  With that comes the claim, “We don’t do that here.”  But if the company has at least one paying customer, someone has defined the product or service that someone promoted for someone to sell.  So, it is safe to proclaim that any small business DOES “do that here,” even if it is the same person that does all three and limited or sporadic effort is applied.

The issue is whether these commercial activities – sales, marketing, and product definition – are being done well enough to reach revenue and profitability goals.  The famous quote, “Nothing happens until someone sells something,” sums it up nicely.  Commercial activities that are subpar will make the life of small business owners even more challenging.  Missing revenue goals can only be addressed by revising the commercial elements of the business.

What are the fundamental commercial actions?  There are three.  First, marketing leads to compelling messaging that resonates with and attracts customers.  Second, product development is about implementing “just right” solutions that meet unmet market needs.  Third, sales brings it home by diagnosing prospective customer needs and prescribing the best solution: yours!  This even applies to businesses where such activities might not seem obvious, like a retail shop or professional services business.

Get commercial activities on track by asking three questions:

  1. Why should someone buy your product or service instead of the next best alternative?

  2. What is the most compelling way to lead people to choose your offering?

  3. How do you supply products or services that customers will consistently purchase?

Answers to these questions may uncover areas of the business that need focused improvement efforts.  The Boulder SBDC offers free business consulting, practical workshops, events and connection to resources that can help shore up commercial activities of your small business.


Erik Host-Steen is founder of SMP Alignment, a firm that helps leaders of small to mid-sized businesses grow the top line and bottom line by focusing on improving sales, marketing, and
product definition.  Erik has been selling, marketing, and developing products for 20 years and has become tri-lingual in these disciplines, proficient in all three areas and capable of translating between and across them.

 Look him up on LinkedIn or his website.
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