The Growth of the Micro Business

You might be surprised to learn that the largest business sector in this country is the one with the fewest number of employees. Micro businesses represent 92% of all US businesses. But what exactly is the definition of a “micro business,” and why should you be interested?

While companies used to be readily categorized into small, medium and large, these days, coffee cup sizing no longer applies. A study by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) shows companies with four or fewer employees account for a whopping 92 percent of all businesses in the U.S. – and it’s a growth sector.

92% of U.S. companies have 0-4 employees:

81% Non-Employers  (companies with no formal payroll, including sole proprietors and partnerships)

10% 1-4 Employees

3%   5-9 Employees

2%   10-19 Employees

2%   20-99 Employees

0.2%   100+ Employees

~2%   Variable

Source: Association for Enterprise Opportunity/Survey of Business Owners

Micro by Choice

So, who are these micro business owners? Here at DesignGood, we know quite a few of them. In fact, they’re a significant part of our clientele. Many operate as sole proprietors, in partnerships or as leaders of small teams. Women make up 38 percent of all micro businesses, and California is home to the greatest number of micros, with 3.6 million, followed by Texas (2.4 million) and Florida (2.3 million).

From experience, we can tell you micro business owners are high-vibe entrepreneurs. They’re motivated professionals who realized they have something special to share beyond the limits of a larger corporation. In fact, they’re a lot like us. We started DesignGood with a small team and we’ve been helping micro business owners find their niche and define their brands ever since.

While working for a big company can have its advantages, most micro business owners choose their path in part for non-quantifiable benefits like flexible hours, and the option to work wherever they like and with the people they really love. These high-vibe entrepreneurs are forging their own path on their own terms, or with the help of a small group – and the numbers show they’re making a big impact.

A New Definition of Success

However, we’ve also noticed an important point of distinction among the micro business owners we know: For most, money is no longer the bottom line. Owning the smallest kind of small business is about happiness. Meaning. Freedom. Today’s entrepreneurs are creating value-based goals and redefining “success” for themselves. Put another way, if they weren’t interested in doing things differently, they’d just go to work for someone else.

And as AEO points out, in a labor market where long-term employment with competitive pay and benefits is becoming less common, owning your own micro business can actually provide greater stability over the long term – if you put the work in to build a solid foundation and focus on sustainability over time. Because many of these small businesses are highly specialized, it’s important that their brand identity speaks for them and directly to their specific audiences. (See more on that below.)

Sustaining a Micro business

Micro business owners have to stand out in order to succeed, and these high-vibe entrepreneurs often share similar traits. Those we know (and love) are specialized experts in their fields. They’ve put the time in to get clear on their gifts and passions and build a unique Business Identity. They’ve determined their niche audience and studied up on the most effective ways to connect with them. And they’ve developed products and services that meet the specific needs of that audience.

While many micro businesses are built around a non-traditional model of success, many high-vibe business owners aren’t interested in traditional models of growth, either. But these micropreneurs can benefit from practices that help them remain innovative, creative, and ready to meet the changing needs of their clientele.

If you head up a micro, consider these tips:

Delegate. Even if – and especially if – you’re the only one in your business, there are always tasks you can hire out that free up your time to focus on the work at hand or business development. Bonus! When you hire another freelancer or contractor to assist you, whether for managing your social media accounts or mowing your lawn, you’re likely contributing back to the micro business economy.

Take time to learn. Whether you need to dig into SEO or become a better salesperson, an investment in your skills is an investment in your business. And while attending that conference or workshops you’ve always wanted to go to might feel like “cheating,” (SXSW Interactive, anyone?), you’re filling the well and fueling your passion – and giving yourself a tax write-off, too.

Step away from your desk. Those Meetups and networking event notifications you so often ignore really are worthwhile, especially if you work alone or from home. There’s no substitute for eye-to-eye contact, and business is so often about direct referrals – it’s how people connect with you and your high-vibe brand. You’re also more likely to learn about industry trends that could spark new ideas for your company and clients.

Practice sustainability. In our article on work-life balance, we talked about how most high-vibe business owners naturally integrate their work and life interests. Because of that, one of the best things you can do for the development of your business is to stay up on your own personal wellbeing. From classes to self-care, integrate practices that allow you to show up for your clients at 100 percent. This helps ensure your commitment to your business is sustainable over time.

Want to Grow Your Micro?

While larger businesses can increase revenue by cutting costs, most micros run lean by design. So if you do want to grow out of the micro stage – either in size or in revenue (or both) – the work you put in early on to define and hone your brand is critical as you grow. It’s also important to reassess along the way so that your brand continues to genuinely reflect you and your products or services at every stage of growth.

That’s what we do here at DesignGood. Wherever you are in your business journey, we’ve got insight to help you set the stage for a new venture or build on what you’ve established. Schedule a call with me to learn more.

Much love and gratitude,
Kristin

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