Articles for Retailers - by Tom Shay

The Biggest Advantage of A Small Business:

Being A Small Business
By Tom Shay
Profit Plus Solutions
The difference between a big business and small business is often defined by the number of locations, number of employees and the amount of revenue.

Knowing this, most NAMTA retailers and suppliers are likely an easy fit into the small business category.

Years ago, I remember hearing a lesson about small businesses trying to be like big businesses. The story told of a small business that carefully monitored the ordering of inventory using what many of us know as the “onesie-twosie” method. It was simply ordering only enough inventory to cover your needs until the sales representative called on your business again.

The story told of the business growing to the point where the owner said, “We have made good money and have cash on hand. Now we can order like the big businesses”. The moral explained in the lesson was asking, “Why would you work to make money performing as a small business and then decide you want to change the way you order?”

There are, however, situations (ordering inventory is not one) in which we should make an effort to mimic a large business. The most obvious is having processes in place for many of the things we do. These processes ensure consistency for your business and, more importantly, a consistent experience for your customers.

It also means the owner and manager of the business are not constantly running around redoing some jobs but instead can spend more of their time taking care of owner/manager responsibilities. It can also mean working fewer hours each week.

The one word of caution about creating processes is that you do not take out the personal experience a small business can have with customers . . . something that’s much more difficult for a big business. 

A customer of a small business hearing, “I’m sorry but our customer service policy is …”, is likely to soon be looking for somewhere else to do business.  Your advantage in being small is stocking or obtaining items your customers request and listening/responding to their needs.
In today’s business world technology and automation have often greatly reduced human interaction.  But now, more than ever, the small business has the opportunity to have that human interaction and that’s a significant advantage vs. big business.

What’s your biggest advantage as a small business? It is being a small business and we need to act like a small business more often.


Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner, author, columnist, coach and speaker who has authored several training manuals for retailers that can be found in the Resources section of the NAMTA website – His knowledge of small business marketing, business strategy, staffing, and financial management have provided small business owners with the help necessary to increase their profits plus build their business for the future. You can learn more here -