About Jo Meunier

Jo is a Senior Editor at Alliance Virtual Offices. She loves chatting with people about virtual offices and is always eager to share stories, tips and ideas about remote work on the Alliance Blog. Connect with Jo on LinkedIn.

Micro Firms Are Doing the Business: Here’s How to Give Yours a Boost

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Did you know that November is U.S. National Entrepreneurship Month?

In our book, one particular slice of U.S. business that deserves special attention is the Micro Business. They’re small firms with 10 employees or less, and they’re fueling the nation’s economy.

In December 2015, business reporter Jeremy Quittner found that micro businesses “are growing at a much healthier clip than their larger peers”. Referring to the Kauffman Foundation’s survey of entrepreneurship, he added: “While the total population of main street businesses increased by 1.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, microbusinesses increased by 3.6 percent.”

This isn’t a new phenomenon. In 2013 Claudia Viek, CEO at California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity, crunched some numbers from the SBA’s Small Business Profiles for States and Territories (2012).

“What we found astounded us and confirmed what we knew from 25 years of experience in the micro enterprise field,” she posted. “When business is broken down by firm sizes as measured by employees, the job creation numbers tell us that micro-businesses create all the jobs.”

Viek’s findings show:

  • Small business is big business: The smallest of the small U.S. businesses created a net of 5.5 million jobs from 2004 to 2010. At the same time, the largest businesses lost 1.8 million jobs.
  • Growing jobs alongside the business: Very small businesses created jobs every year and in most cases, created more jobs than any other firm size.
  • A crucial sector: During 2009 and 2010, micro-businesses were the only firm size that created jobs.

In Viek’s words, “it’s not just small business that’s the backbone of the economy – micro-business is the backbone. It’s the 25.5 million micro-businesses or 88 percent of the country’s businesses that are the backbone.”

And here’s another interesting fact. Who owns most of these micro businesses? Women do.

According to the U.S. Census Survey of Business Owners, the number of women-owned businesses increased by almost 27 percent between 2007 and 2012, spanning a vast range of sectors including catering, jewelers and accountants.

This all sounds incredibly positive for owners and employees of small businesses.

But… there is always a ‘but’.

Quittner outlines some of the main challenges facing micro firms, including a high level of caution over too much growth. Research suggests that those founded during and immediately after a recession are typically under-confident for the first 10 years of their existence, leading to unwillingness to take on too many employees.

Another downside is that larger businesses may be performing under-par and reducing their workforce to 10 or less, thereby bringing their organization within the ‘micro’ bracket.

The good news is, whether or not your micro business seeks growth, there are certain measures to help keep a healthy client base by improving customer service, maintaining a high standard of professionalism, and reducing overhead.

A virtual office fits these particular requirements nicely.

A prestigious office address doesn’t just look impressive on your business card, it also creates a local presence that helps strengthen client relationships in those areas. Plus, virtual office users can check-in to those locations anytime they need to work locally or meet clients. With fully equipped meeting spaces and professional business environments, it’s a clear winner over noisy coffee shops.

On the customer service side, a Live Receptionist service ensures calls are answered Monday to Friday by trained receptionists, giving callers a friendly greeting and your business a smooth, professional front.

For micro businesses concerned over taking on too many staff or the cost of new hires, these services offer the flexibility and low operational costs that give micro firms room to grow at their own pace.

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