Zintro experts comment on small business strategy: Part 1

By Maureen Aylward

The Wall Street Journal reports that small businesses in the US are still struggling in the worsening economy. The study says that small businesses are tweaking business plans, shifting marketing strategies, and making changes to clientele, products, and services. Zintro experts tell us what they think the tweaks small businesses are making to stay afloat.

Wayne Spivak, an expert in accounting information systems, says that a lot of small businesses are hesitant to make what they deem to be a bold move, because they don’t know what is happening and that volatility is driving everybody crazy. One issue that Spivak sees regularly in his consulting business is the need for a CFO. “Small businesses need a CFO, but they can’t afford someone five days a week,” he says. In addition, he says that sales teams are making more visits to potential clients because these clients may take longer to sign on. “I am seeing longer sales cycles, but in the end, small businesses may see more business from this extra attention.”

MJS, an entrepreneur and president of a company, says that medical device companies have been affected by the slow economy in a number of ways. “Non-critical procedures have been put off. Hospitals delay and minimize purchases and hold on to older, existing equipment thereby reducing demand and shipments of new products. This delays development of new technologies and reduces R&D and product development,” he says. “The federal government has raised questions about the regulatory approval process and certification, which has added to uncertainty and risk. This in turn reduces investment which would lead to new jobs and expansion in general.”

MJS points out that federal regulatory requirements, in recent years, have become more stringent, forcing new products to be tested and approved outside the US. In addition, he says that reimbursement or payments by Medicare and other payers have been reduced as financial pressures are squeezing clinicians and their facilities, reducing revenues and purchases of products. “Companies have been reducing work force and delaying new projects as demand for new products has diminished,” he says. “Only companies and a select few investors who have money reserves, vision, and expectations of the economy turning around in the next couple of years are continuing new product development.”

Jerome Williams, a small business development expert, says that in Miami-Dade County, Florida, small businesses are taking classes on financial management and are learning about marketing through social media outlets. “While many social media sites provide marketing tips and tools and provide some level of marketing and online networking for free or at minimal cost, some small business owners have reported that the process of generating valuable leads through this process is time-consuming. Many of the older small business owners do not have the technical skills or knowledge to post blogs or utilize social media,” he says.

SeanJC, an IT strategist, says that the tweaks small companies are doing to stay afloat are by making better use of the Internet and all its forms. “Most small businesses already have e-commerce offerings on websites and are now utilizing other online avenues to increase costs and boost profits, including using cloud-based services, out-sourcing, and increasing social networking and communication activities. I am finding that more advertising budgets are now spent on social media services than ever before.”

Tony Rodriguez, an expert in consumer goods and media in the San Diego area, says that some CEOs mistake their goals or vision for strategy and fail to tackle the more vital chore of identifying the key challenge and developing specific strategies to over come it. “Successful strategy execution is based on root cause identification and insightful solutions with specific action plans,” he says.

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