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What is a Microbusiness? Why Microbiz Mondays?

What is a Microbusiness?

What defines a microbusiness isn’t necessarily that it’s run by a solo entrepreneur, or that it is a digital-only company. There are Mom and Pop shops, family run businesses, and million dollar firms that fall into this category.

The main determinant of what falls under the heading of microbusiness is size, according to the Small Business Administration definition.

(I believe it’s important for businesses that are solo-run enterprises that wish to grow to have a few employees band together with those who already do so. We so much to learn from each other.)

You may be aware that somewhere in the neighborhood of 99% of all businesses in the US are small businesses, which the SBA defines as a business with less than 500 employees. A microbusiness is a subset of small business, the majority of those businesses that employ less than five people.

But did you know that microbusinesses represent 92% of US businesses? Or that if 1 in 3 of microbusineses were able to hire an employee, the US unemployment rate would be zero?

We ARE the economy

Apparently not just small business, but very small business, is essential to the working of the US economy (and the UK for that matter). And the one thing we seem to need to know more about is how to keep our doors open.

About half of us complain that we need more customers, and yet two-thirds of us don’t want to get outside help in that department- at least in the way of paying for outside services.

MIcrobusiness stats- according to Entrepreneur

We say we don’t have time for social media, and yet we benefit most from using it.

And the average business fails within the first two years [pdf], often because we lack capital and knowledge in the areas of either how to either grow our customer base or run our businesses from the administrative side.

It’s not just about marketing

So here we have a situation where people are smart about what they know how to do, but not about how to get more people to know about them or do business with them.

And yet if we want the economy to be strong, we must be strong. We, the microbusiness owners, are essentially the economy. We hire the most, for those of us who are employer companies. Those of us who are nonemployer organizations hire each other and pay taxes, also contributing to the economy in large numbers.

Okay. But who cares?

That’s part of the problem actually.

Who cares about the microbusiness?

We have special challenges that go unnoticed and unattended. But who’s our universal go-to source?

(Besides the lovely Duct Tape marketing community – beyond marketing where is our Very Small Biz resource? Should there be a micro version of the wonderful Small Biz Trends?)

We need more than marketing help.

We need to know about setting up payroll, accounting, funding, permits, home business practices, productivity, workflow, and how to handle all of these in situations where we may have one-person departments- or none at all.

We also need to know how to grow out of the microbiz category, as well as how to know if the hassle is worth it.

In 2009 and 2010, the microbusiness seemed to be a hot topic at every conference I attended. As with all trends, attention eventually shifted, but the issues have not. My proposal is that we band together to solve these issues.

Microbiz Mondays – we’re each other’s best answer.

For some things, our biggest resources are going to be each other.

Let’s face it – not all queries like “how to find a virtual assistant” are fully “Google-able” knowledge. Yes, we might find a way to get the basic answers, but there’s a dimension of this that can’t be answered just by asking Google.

How can you save time reviewing resumes if you post your listing on Odesk or Elance? Should you do that or hire an assistant from Zirtual? Will services like Fancy Hands or TimeSvr be enough for me if I don’t need a full time person?

Can I use those services as a micro-enterprise? What if the full business option isn’t a good fit?

Therefore, I’m proposing that we start posting articles about how we solve the problems of our business ownership on Mondays. I’ll start it on my own here- if you’d like to join me, just tweet your blog title and link with the hashtag #microbizmonday.

(It’s a bit long for a hashtag but

 It can’t get confused with any other similar ones in intermittent use and

it’ll also help you learn to

  1. create a great headline, balancing between one short enough to avoid being truncated by search engines) but
  2. detailed and clever enough to inspire sharing in social.)

If you need a theme, this time around you can list and/or review the top tools and resources you use each week, but it’s not required.

I’ll start promoting the list of people who participate each week on Monday evenings, and if we hit more than ten people, I’ll come up with something more organized like a monthly Twitter chat or a home for our community of peer-to-peer guidance around running a microbusiness.

If you have any ideas to contribute to the project, feel free to let me know in the comments.

And who knows. Around this time next year we might be the pioneers of a legion of thousands, celebrating Annual Microbusiness Day.

(January 29th is unofficially celebrated, but it excludes anyone who isn’t a solo enterpreneur).