Is 2017 going to be a banner year for small businesses? What road signs on the digital highway are directing traffic to this important sector of the economy?
Perhaps we have to look no further than the world’s largest global social network and the U.S. government to see what type of journey lies ahead for small business operators.
Small Business Stats
On January 17, Facebook unveiled the “2017 Future of Business” survey with the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to provide a monthly snapchat of “the perceptions, challenges and outlook” pertaining to online small and medium enterprises.
What’s insightful about this report, it covers 33 countries and more than 140,000 small businesses that are currently using Facebook Pages.
In so doing, the report becomes omnipresent tool to help small businesses learn from each other and to encourage them to use social media to further their marketing reach.
Obviously this focus is self-serving for Facebook. But since the world’s go-to social network has scaled to 1.79 billion monthly active Facebook users [a 16 percent increase year over year], for a small business with limited budget, it’s definitely an advertising platform to give them the greatest bang for buck.
Couple this with the U.S. government’s attention to SMBs. With a new administration heading to the White House and President-Elect Trump selecting Linda McMahon to head up the U.S. Small Business Administration, changes are in the wind.
However, the jury is out at this early stage. With McMahon a former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) executive CEO of Women’s Leadership Live, critics question her expertise. It’s been reported that small business owners are divided on Trump’s selection.
According to the Manta Poll, 49% of SMB owners support the McMahon pick, but the other half of those polled say they’re not thrilled with the choice.
SMBs & The New Administration
McMahon might convert the naysayers. Pro-Trump business owners think their fellow SMB operators need to give the president’s pick to lead the Small Business Administration a chance to show her stuff. Trump promises Linda McMahon will be a ‘champion for small businesses.’
John Swanciger, CEO of Manta, says:
The SBA plays a vital role in supporting budding small businesses, so Manta will continue to keep a pulse on small business owners’ sentiment toward the Trump administration as more formal policies around small business are rolled out.
Those who like the nomination say her experience growing a small business into a national brand is something that SMBs can use as a model to emulate. Many of America’s small business owners will see themselves in McMahon. She’s a risk taker and a patriot, and so are they.
According to one opinion, SMB operators will identify with someone who “gets” them, because entrepreneurs have felt overlooked in Washington, D.C.. They are hungry for leadership that understands their unique contributions, and their unique challenges. If Trump and McMahon come through with campaign promises, SMBs can look forward to an increased focus on SBA loans, training and federal contract opportunities.
Sheryl Sandberg Talks SMB Jobs
Facebook’s survey discovered that nearly a fifth of small businesses created jobs in the past six months.
We take our responsibilities seriously as a new kind of platform, and technology needs to provide opportunity that everyone participates in,
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a phone interview.
The numbers of jobs that are created through online and Facebook in particular are astounding. We want to help small businesses grow, and we want to help them continue to create jobs.
Presently more than 60 million small and medium sized businesses have ‘Facebook Pages.’
Some of the key findings of their study focused on digital tools and international trade, gender and confidence in business and the Internet as an equalizing force. Going forward, the results will be updated monthly and shared publicly.
Surprisingly, most of the small businesses
that participated in the study, fell outside of
the ‘tech’ sector.
Often when people think about small businesses and Facebook they think of tech-savvy businesses or people building apps,
Certainly we have some of those, but the majority are non-tech businesses — the plumbers, the bakers, the local florists who are using technology to reach customers and sell their products and services.
One of the reasons Facebook is uniquely useful for businesses, according to Sandberg, is because of its ability to help businesses foster community among its nearly 2 billion monthly users globally. And they can do this with minimal budgets.
Change in the business world comes from companies that have created job growth and from people finding their passion and doing things they believe in and in a way that’s responsible, sustainable and builds communities,
When it comes to offering video production, it’s no secret that Mark Zuckerberg has wanted to capture some of Google’s YouTube market share. Video marketing is an advertising vehicle that SMBs are attracted to, due to minimal costs and the ease of production.
To that end, ‘Facebook Live’ is a perfect fit for SMB operators, and the enhanced features just keep getting better.
For starters, while at launch, Facebook Live was only available on smartphones, just recently it’s starting to offer the service on computers as well. Beginning with personal Facebook Pages, Facebook has announced it will make this feature available on business pages in 2017.
Future Looks Bright for Small Businesses
Since both Facebook and the government are taking a pro-SMB stance in 2017, now is the time for small businesses to take advantage of all that is available, particularly since a lot of the new tools are either free or at minimal cost.
One survey finds most small business advertisers on Facebook spend less than $50 per month.
And, whether or not you paid close attention to this year’s election, or whether you are pro- or anti-Trump, the forecasts coming in point to small-business optimism being on the uptick. Several analysts are indicating that the post election enthusiasm at least partially contributed to the jump.
Ron is a blogger at Telzio, covering business, technology, and mobile trends. Previously a Director of Advertising and Public Relations at Marriott International, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.