State of Small Businesses

National Small Business Week 2019

Did you know it's National Small Business Week (May 5-11)? For more than 50 years, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

[2019’s Best & Worst Small Cities to Start a Business (opens in new tab)]

National Small Business Week brings the successes of small businesses to light. However, it’s also important to learn about the areas in which small businesses struggle. For example, a survey by WalletHub found that 65 percent of small business owners feel they pay too much in credit card processing fees, the fees the business is charged each time customers use credit cards to pay.

[2019’s Most & Least Innovative States (opens in new tab)]

“Shop around and use your leverage,” Daniel Cohen, the executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Wake Forest University, advises small business owners. “You have nothing to lose. Also, experiment with accepting other forms of payment such as Venmo, Pay Pal, etc. My advice is to generate multiple ways that customers can pay you. These costs ultimately get passed down to customers anyway.”

Starting Your Small Business

For those looking to start an integration business, do your research says Sherif A. Ebrahim, professor, strategy and innovation and director of entrepreneurship and innovation education, Tulane University. "Focus on a value proposition that means something to your target market. Look for gaps in the market where few competitors exist. Build your business mode to your strengths and make sure you are building something that is unique that offers opportunity to scale. Make sure it is sustainable and fits your market for the long term," he said.

A large factor for success is where the small business is located. Alexandra Moran, clinical instructor of entrepreneurship, College of Business, Purdue University Northwest, weighed the pros and cons of starting a business in a small city. "Smaller regions can provide a sense of community for small businesses," she said. " This translates into more connected 'wins' as startups launch. It also means there can be fewer resources for small businesses. When the pond is smaller, the ecosystem will only support fish up to a certain size." 

Staffing Your Small Business

In general, small business owners aren’t especially worried about finding good workers. They’re twice as likely to say their biggest frustration has to do with marketing and acquiring new customers, according to WalletHub’s survey (opens in new tab).

However, a lack of skilled workers is often the topic of conversation in the AV industry—and the AVIXA Foundation and NSCA Ignite program have both created programs to solve this issue by finding new ways to attract young talent to the industry. 

“Staffing is often considered an afterthought with small business owners, something that will ‘take care of itself’,” said Tommy White, executive-in-residence and co-director of the entrepreneurship incubator at American University. “This is a huge mistake. Spending the time up front identifying and recruiting quality staff will bring productivity rewards at 10 times. Too often small business owners spend 80 to 90 percent of their time on their product and service and only 10 to 20 percent of their time on customer acquisition. A successful business should be split 50/50 between the two.”

Connections for Small Business

Relationship-building is critical to the success of a small business. "Don't be afraid to reach out to people to learn more about their business models or ask for help," advised Kylie King, Ph.D., assistant professor, Robert P. Stiller School of Business, Champlain College. "I've found that entrepreneurial networks in small cities are extremely supportive of newcomers. This is not a zero-sum game environment where one business loses when another gets ahead." 

To connect and educate small business leaders, the U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE are hosting a two-day virtual conference May 7-8. Registration is free and the educational sessions will cover marketing small businesses, managing cash flow, driving customer growth, and more. To register or learn more, visit (opens in new tab).

Celebrate Small Businesses

The AV industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry, but it wouldn't have gotten there without the thousands of small business owners who started in a garage and used their knowledge and connections to grow into multi-million dollar conglomerates. 

“We are extremely proud to honor America’s most successful small businesses during National Small Business Week,” concluded U.S. Small Business Administration administrator Linda McMahon. “These small business owners have shown tremendous dedication and perseverance. They are the job creators that fuel our economy and best represent the nation’s 30 million small businesses.”

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (opens in new tab)(SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine (opens in new tab), both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV (opens in new tab), where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage (opens in new tab), an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.