Surviving in today's turbulent business world is tough. According to Wells Fargo and the National Federation of Independent Business' Education Foundation, about half of small businesses disappear within five years. In some cases, small business failures are the result of a lack of access to capital. Other contributors to small business failures include non-payment of taxes, lack of strategic planning, and a lack of management experience. But sometimes, small business can get a boost from big business, especially when it comes to marketing.Although the barriers to entry are lower than they were in the past, "it's harder to succeed now - small businesses need direction and mentorship," says Christopher Hollins, vice president and general manager for American Express OPEN's Top Client Group. Hollins was a panelist last week at the Infusionsoft Main Street Forum, a gathering of business leaders, influencers, and media in New York that was organized by Infusionsoft, a provider of sales and marketing software to small businesses.
Access to capital is key - especially when a small business needs it most. "If you can provide a small business with capital at the right time, you can help them grow," says James Hobson, Chief Operating Officer of OnDeck, an online platform for small business loans.
Small business leaders also need the right tools and customer data to understand customers. As Bo Burlingham, Editor at Large at Inc. Magazine and the moderator for the panel discussion pointed out, consumers are constantly evolving, making it challenging for small businesses to keep pace with their changing preferences and needs.
Keeping a pulse of customer activity can be particularly difficult for small business owners that are also trying to manage multiple parts of the business by themselves, says Clate Mask, co-founder and CEO of Infusionsoft.
Of course, one way to sense and respond to ever-changing customer behaviors is through the use of analytics tools. But analytics tools will only work if they're easy for small business leaders to use, says Eric Mason, director of strategic marketing communications & small business and technology evangelist at Wix.com.
Larger companies can also offer guidance to start-up businesses through education and community building, says David R. Bobbitt, president of the SCORE Foundation, a source of free advice to small businesses, and vice president of development at the SCORE Association.
Keeping a small business viable is tough but it is possible. What are some additional ways that big business can lend a hand?