Small business owners are the best!  They are my favorite clients!

I love the drive, passion and focus they have on their businesses.

I admire the work they do to support their families, customers, employees and their communities.

I’m inspired with the difference they are making in the world and the impact my work as a fractional CMO can have on their goals and dreams.

But one thing I was not prepared for when I left the corporate world and started working as a consultant and fractional executive.

I made a big assumption. A big wrong assumption. Maybe you as a fractional executive or consultant have made that assumption too.

My assumption was that small businesses are just smaller versions of bigger corporations. They have fewer employees. Fewer revenues. Other than that they look and act the same as their larger counterparts.

Nope. Not by a long shot.

Small businesses are a completely different entity! With a completely different mindset and style in the way they want to work with you.

For me, learning how to embrace the small business owner mindset and working style has been the secret of my fractional business success.

Here are five things I’ve learned about the small business owner mindset that I’d like to share today.

First of all, these are Do It Yourselfers (DIYers). Many of them have grown their business by grinding it out with what I call the owner/operator scramble for years.

They excel in the game of “I’ll figure it out.”

I’ll give you a great illustration. I recently went through a full marketing audit with a client. They really really needed to upgrade their website. When I mentioned it, the first response out of the client’s mouth was, “My nephew does websites, I’ll get him to do it.”

That’s the do-it-yourself mentality. He didn’t, in the end, decide to have his nephew do it, but that’s another story for another time.

Secondly, these business owners are often trapped in the tyranny of the urgent. Everything is urgent to this market. They have limited resources. They have limited time. They have tons of fires to put out. So, short-term thinking, short-term planning, short-term focus is really one of the obstacles that they face. And it’s one of the biggest obstacles that you as a fractional executive face in helping them to understand why they need to plan, why they need to do some research, why they need to develop a strategy.

Third, they’re very results driven. Now, clearly all companies are results driven. I think this market is more results driven because for most small business owners the money coming out of their own pocket.

Yes, the CEO, CMO and the CFO of large corporations are results driven. They want to see results and they may have a lot riding on that, including stock options and other incentives. But with small business owners each dollar literally comes out of their own pocket.

That’s why, number four, they’re also very time and budget sensitive. In some cases I’ve found time constraints are bigger than money constraints.  My clients want to know up front how much time it’s going to take. And by that not just how long the project will take but how much time they personally need to dedicate to it.

Fifth, they are really fast and definite deciders. They’re usually going to make a fairly quick decision. Often when you present a proposal to a business owner in this space, you may not hear from them for a while. You may think, well, they haven’t made up their mind yet, and check back in and say, well, how’s it going? Can I help you? What more can I tell you?

Likely or not, they’re ghosting you. They’ve already made the decision, and the answer is probably no, or I can’t afford it, and I don’t want to tell you that. The truth is most small business owners are quick deciders, and that’s to our benefit as fractionals if we know how to manage that expectation correctly.

So, five things to keep in mind when working with small and medium-size business owners: they are DIYers, trapped in tyranny of the urgent, results driven, time and budget sensitive and fast deciders.

That’s my experience. What about you?  Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Next time I’ll be sharing some strategies for addressing that small business owner mindset in marketing and sales conversations.

Stay tuned!