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As a group, SMBs with 2-9 employees have a distinctive profile that in many respects lies between the profiles of VSBs (Very Small Businesses – those with only one employee) and medium-size and larger-size SMBs. In some ways, SMBs in the 2-9 employee bracket might be thought of as the “pre-teens” of the SMB world. They’re experimenting with grown up behaviors (e.g. use of serious analytics), but at the same time, they’re very attached to their youthful ways (e.g. heavy use of social media). The behaviors, attitudes and opportunities with the 2-9 employee SMB bracket are explored in our newest spotlight report here, based on BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor, Wave 18 survey of small and medium businesses.

To be certain, the 2-9 employee bracket is quite interesting because it often represents a stage of development in which the SMB is deciding what it wants to be when it grows up, so to speak. This is a point at which some SMBs decide they’ll style themselves as a “lifestyle” business, and won’t focus on growth as much as on providing a high-quality lifestyle for the owner. On the other hand, other SMBs will decide to adopt a growth trajectory to become a significant player in their niche.

This “pre-teen” period for many of the SMBs in the 2-9 employee bracket poses unique challenges — and rewards — for service providers. For example:

– These SMBs use a fairly broad mix of media, and are applying increasingly-sophisticated analytics to assess media performance and make budget allocation decisions. Accordingly, they’re probably receptive to tools and platforms to grow their analytic capabilities.

– Over the next 12 months, 43.6 percent rate SEM/SEO as a “very high” or “extremely high” priority, suggesting they may be open to various tools (and learning) to master these activities.

– Email marketing also ranks fairly high both as a medium currently being used, and as a priority, again suggesting this may be a product area with a lot of interest for SMBs in this size bracket.

In sum, for many SMBs in the 2-9 employee bracket, this is the stage at which long-term relationships are formed — with media, products, platforms, channels and vendors. An important segment to pay attention to!

Clients of the BIA/Kelsey Advisory Services can find the full 2-9 employee spotlight report here. This report is one of a series of drill-down reports on the findings from Wave 18 of BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor survey of small-and-medium businesses. In the coming weeks we will be looking at even larger SMBs with between 10-99 employees, new SMBs, established and growing SMBs, and more. To learn more about our LCM survey, click here.


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