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The Green Sheet Online Edition

May 26, 2008 • Issue 08:05:02


Reap small-business rewards

Small businesses. Mom-and-pop stores. Local merchants. As an ISO or merchant level salesperson (MLS), what do these signify for you? If expressions like small potatoes and not worth the trouble come to mind, think again.

According to a recent report from market research group Packaged Facts, there are nearly 26 million small businesses in the United States. They account for more than $9 trillion in revenue and more than $2 trillion in assets. Trillion.

Furthermore, the report indicated small enterprises can produce up to $350 billion in financial services and product revenue annually. If you still need an incentive to pursue the small business market, here are five reasons why it is worth the effort.

1. Easy access

Unlike mid-sized and large companies, small businesses usually do not have gatekeepers. There is no ladder to climb to find the person in charge. The person you are dealing with, more often than not, is the decision maker, owner, president and accountant all in one.

Most small-business owners like to be on the premises during work hours (and sometimes long after the doors close) to ensure that their sweat and tears pay off in the realization of lifelong dreams. Seventy-four percent of mom-and-pop stores have no employees, while 87 percent have fewer than five employees.

2. Personal investment

Additionally, owners of small enterprises are dedicated to their work. In this market, you will be working side by side with people who hope to establish a committed business relationship with you.

They are in it for the long haul; this is their livelihood. They are not faceless cogs, watching the seconds on the clock tick away. Nor are they looking to change careers. Most of the time, merchants' personal and business finances are intertwined. They want to improve their lot, and they put in the money and sweat equity to do so.

3. Community involvement

When you work with local merchants (most of whom run small shops), you can keep your services within your community - a place where you live and work, and, perhaps, where you are raising a family. You can foster the economy and be an active member of the area's business district.

If you are able to support and assist merchants on a local level, you are contributing to a thriving economy in your own backyard - you're practically a hometown hero.

4. Word of mouth

Merchants network through local associations and organizations. They share information, including the names of vendors and services providers who have given them exemplary service. This is your opportunity to expand your clientele by giving your merchants something wonderful to talk about.

To compete with large organizations, small-business owners need advice from those they trust on the types of equipment, programs and value added services that will give them an edge.

Due to the small size of their enterprises, these merchants must provide exceptional services, and they will spread the word if you help them do this.

5. Stickiness

Since they are usually so identified with their businesses, people operating smaller concerns are likely to appreciate you more than owners of the larger enterprises you may serve. The former will be most thankful for the contributions you make to their operations, and they will let you - and others - know by being faithful to you.

And if you serve merchants from the inception of their ventures, they will be especially appreciative. This sets the stage for selling value added products and services with ease because your loyalty is proven, and your judgment is trusted.

Don't overlook the small shops. They may be diminutive in the business world, but they can generate significant residuals for you over time.

Liken prospecting in this market to gardening: You start off with a handful of seeds that appear insignificant. But in the end, you have a cash crop. end of article

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