Insights from Charles Laughlin and Mark McLeod at VendastaCon 2018.

In marketing, we often spend so much time stressing about the ways in which the digital and technological landscapes are shifting that we often forget that other things aren’t immune to change—like the small business itself.

One major theme from this year's VendastaCon was taking a deeper dive into just how the small business has evolved in the past years, what the landscape looks like now, and where it's going.

The State of the Small Business Industry

We often speak to the extent in which many small businesses are being Amazon’d and Starbuck’d to death, but the reality is that the small business market is actually growing.

Source: Intuit

These 2017 numbers are staggering, and they’re trending upwards.

If we take it one step further, 91% of these small business fall in the employee range of 1-10. These small businesses aren’t what they used to be and are very unique in their make-up, as well as their needs.

Let's see why.

Related Reading: New Data: Why SMBs Don’t Trust Advertising Anymore

The New Small Business Lives in the Cloud

The days of paper pushing and overflowing invoice shoe-boxes are coming to a close. With changing demographics driving increased technological and cloud adoption, a new kind of small business is emerging.

According to the Tech Adoption Index, 10 thousand baby boomers reach retirement age (65) every single day in North America. This means that a void is being created in the small business climate, a void that is predominantly being filled by small businesses that are using cloud-based technology.

These cloud-based small businesses have a few things in common.

They have young leaders:

Source: Tech Adoption Index

With millennials growing into the business-owning stage, more and more of the daily business operations are conducted through tech and mobile devices:

Source: Tech Adoption Index

These businesses also place higher values on going paperless, having a work-life balance, and doing the work that they love to do.

By 2025, most small businesses are going to be run by millenials—and they are digital natives.

Mark MacLeod

Founder, SurePath Capital Partners

MacLeod couldn't be more right. These millennials love digital, and they need SaaS cloud services so that they can thrive.

The Importance of SaaS for Small Businesses

This new landscape is the perfect setting for local businesses and SaaS companies both to thrive. Why? Because these local businesses are faced with:

  1. Lack of Time

The barber down the road didn’t start a barber shop so that they could spend half the hours in their day managing Facebook posts. As a strong digital presence becomes more and more important, it is removing our barber from the work that started it all as he must become increasingly invested in:

  • Managing and updating listings
  • Responding to reviews
  • Social posting, etc.

According to Intuit, local business owners are only spending 14 hours per week doing the work that they set out to do. The rest of their days belong to sales, marketing, management, and accounting activities.

Moving to the cloud promises local businesses more time to do exactly what they love to do.

Yet, while the existence of new digital technology definitely helps streamline these processes, it's not always immediately accessible to help. These businesses need SaaS providers to provide the robust technology, automation, and consultation they need to reset their priorities and focus more on running the actual business.

2. App Overload

Small businesses and their owners don’t have the time or the resources to be handling and using 12 different software solutions, so the more services that can be bundled into one SaaS package, the more appealing your offering is going to be.

Single pane of glass, single point of contact, there’s some real opportunity there.

Charles Laughlin

Principal, Laughlin Consulting Group

3. Finding and Keeping Customers

According to the 10,000 Small Business Program Impact Study, finding and keeping customers was a problem shared by 31% of the surveyed businesses in North America.

What this means is that as much as these new small businesses are digital natives, they still struggle to find and retain customers in the competitive digital climate. These customers need a CRM and sales tool to manage all their client and prospect information, enabling them to better compete with the brands in their industries.

4. Competition with Big Brands

With companies like Domino’s receiving 60% of their sales through custom digital platforms, it can be difficult for local businesses to compete. What mom & pop pizza joint can deliver faster and more easily when a fully-branded Domino's app exists to order a hot pizza at the touch of a button?

In fact, according to the Tech Adoption Index, 68% of small businesses believe that national brands have marketing and technological tools at their disposal that they do not.

However, just because they believe this doesn't mean that it's true. SaaS cloud solution providers like Vendasta and other big vendors are everywhere, and live to arm local businesses with the equipment they need to take down the big guy.

The SaaS Opportunity

Traditional small businesses are evolving rapidly into more digital-savvy, cloud-based businesses, but they need support from SaaS providers to compete with the big brands and effectively, efficiently run their business. This presents a huge opportunity for local businesses and SaaS companies alike.

Source: Intuit

Intuit is the largest SaaS company for SMBs in North America. You may suspect that the remainder of this chart is occupied by competitors, but the reality is that it is virtually untapped. Most SaaS providers seek to sell only to the biggest fish, and have neglected the small business. As a result, many small businesses are ill equipped for battle with the Amazon’s of the world.

Sooo… what does this actually mean?

It’s pretty simple actually—it means that local businesses need a SINGLE cloud based solution that gives them back their time, that helps them find their customers, and that fully equips them for battle in this digital climate.

Meet these needs by giving local:

  1. An affordable solution than provides measurable ROI.
    1. If they have the time to manage their online presence, let them! But also give them robust reporting to show what's happening and what results are being driven from their efforts.
  2. A solution or platform that has everything they need.
    1. A single place for them to manage all aspects of their digital presence. They don't want to handle a dozen logins in a dozen different platforms and programs.
  3. A solution that is either DIFM (do it for me), DIWM (do it with me), or fully automated. And they need the option that fits their budget.
    1. Some businesses have more time than money, and some have more money than time. Offer a couple different packages with different service types that allow the business to get the help they need at a price they can afford no matter their budget. If they need the expertise and hands-on management and have the money to pay for it, offer a DIWM or DIFM as a package. If they have the time to become experts without a big budget for hands-on help, offer a DIY solution.
  4. You, the trusted local expert.
    1. No matter what package or solution your clients pick, be helpful and offer expertise so your clients can succeed. Provide marketing materials and information in a blog, and offer advice in on-boarding calls and through training materials. You know the local area and are best situated to offer assistance to businesses in your community.

What are you waiting for?