Is small business obsolete?

I mean really small business of 15-20 employees and fewer.
They can’t afford to provide employees with needed benefits, and they can’t afford to pay those employees enough for them to buy their own. And they always seem to need help to stay in business, although that may be a misconception on my part from hearing polititions talk about giving them breaks.
So, is the mom & pop landscaping service etc obsolete? Should they all go the way of the handy man?
BTW; I know nothing of the structure of that particular business.

I run a small business of 3 people and we’re doing great. Everyone has healthcare and everyone gets paid well. The only thing that the economy has kept us from doing is spending wildly, as we’re never sure when the well might run dry.

It probably helps that we’re cheap, relatively speaking. No rent to pay, no office furniture to buy, no one to lay off. The money we make, for the most part, goes in to payroll.

I’ve talked to some service people lately (as I’ve had money to pay people to come do stuff at my house) and they say for the most part they’re doing fine. Instead of buying new things, people are getting things fixed. And, instead of calling the big service company with the slick ad they’re seeking out the smaller guys who charge less because they have less overhead.

I actually had an honest-to-god handy man over the house the other day. I liked him so much, I gave his card to everyone in my family. The handy man is at my brother’s house right now, fixing something for him.

I don’t think established small companies are going away. They may have to trim down a bit from when they got bloaty before the bust. But people’s stuff still needs to be fixed, services still need to be serviced, and niche markets still need to be filled. Starting a small business right now, however, may indeed be tough.

Sure they can, and they do. The vast majority of businesses in the United States have fewer than 20 employees, and this is very likely to continue. How can all these businesses possibly exist if your premise were true?

Now it’s certainly true that small businesses can’t offer the type of perks that huge companies can, but many people are perfectly satisfied with the ones they can get from their smaller employers. The last time I worked full-time for a small company (a dozen employees) I was quite satisfied with the health insurance, 401(k) plan, and my paycheck.

The last I read is that small business in the USA is defined as less than 100 employees, and make up just over 50% of the total workforce.
I work at a huge corporation, and the vast majority of our employees come to us from small business or were small business owners. I talk to many of the contractor employees who perform services for us and, excluding union members, would jump to my company in a heartbeat. Many look for an in through me, but I can’t help them.
That, and what I gather from various reports, is the basis for my premise (question, really). Plus all this talk of special breaks for small business.

I’ve only once had better insurance at a larger company than I had at a smaller company. The small company was purchased by a large, nationwide company and their benefits were a complete joke comparatively.

Please understand, the owner of the small company felt like his employees having excellent health insurance, as good as his, was very important to the quality of the jobs he was offering. Like anything else, a commitment from above makes a huge difference to the quality of a company.

I currently work for a complete shit-stain of a human. He hires illegals, pays the least he can, charges us for anything he can think of and does not offer any benefits. It is especially galling since they profess to be Good Christians. If you ask for a day off, you get reduced hours for at least a week, the employees call it “punishment week.”

You run a shitty company, you get shitty employees. I’d work for less for a much better environment and person.

Because there aren’t enough corporate jobs?
If false, then why do so many excelent employees yearn to cop a corporste job? We’ve all seen the “lines around the block” every time a large company opens a position.

Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. There is a lot of risk working for a company where it’s just you, a couple of your business partners and your support staff. Those companies are often one missed deal away from closing their doors forever. Plus small companies often don’t have anyplace for you to advance to in your career.

Right. And small companies often don’t have the resources, or the will, to reward you for your hard work. I prefer the kudos and the money in the bank.

There are a lot of sorts of businesses that simply don’t work well as part of a large company. Many retail businesses, service businesses, contractors, etc. seem to work better on a micro scale.

Yes, many people seek out the better benefits and (potentially) better pay of a large company. Conversely, many people walk away from jobs at large companies because they desire greater flexibility, the ability to be their own bosses, and to pursue an avocation.

I’ve worked at big companies for 20 years. I’m still in touch with many of the people that I worked with at my first job out of school (a Fortune 500 company back then, now part of an even larger, global company). 20 years later, the vast majority of them are working at small consulting groups, research groups, etc. And, most of them are still doing pretty well financially. I’m one of the very few who is still working at a large company.

Do small businesses have it tough right now? Yes. So do large businesses.

Most of those, at least from the past year or two, are more of a sign of just how bad the unemployment situation is. I’d wager that many of the people in those lines are simply seeking a job. It just so happens that openings at large companies are often more visible.

I guess I’m in a pretty isolated situation. We haven’t had an employee just leave for a long time. Some have retired and some have moved to other parts of the company.
Also, it’s been a while (3 years) since we’ve hired anyone “of the street”. We have filled some positions with contactors, though, and a couple from other locations. We have grown quite a lot. Our corporation, like many others, calls different departments “companies” as though they are seperate. They’re not, though. Probably a tax dodge or something like that. I dunno.
I retire in 2011, and ennui has set in. :stuck_out_tongue:

I worked for a small company for 15 years, until we were taken over last year by a very, very big company. We are all, more or less, doing the same job but without the freedom to actually achieve anything (due to the inertia of the large company). We also have far fewer perks than we used to.

If I could find another small company which needed my skills and could get close to matching my salary, I’d take the job in a heartbeat.

Not everyone wants to work for a large corporation. In particular, some people’s personalities are much more suited to small companies.

That would depend very much on the companies. The contractor companies I worked for had very limited room to advance, and almost zero decision making or pressure. I worked for contractors until I was 38, then moved to this job, where I’ve advanced a lot and get to make important decisions and have a lot of responsibility. But I’ll be 66 in a little over a year and I’m ready to relax. I’m pooped. :slight_smile: (I’ve had to work since I was 11).

By the way, I don’t think of most franchising as true small business. You very much do as you’re told. And this encludes online business’ (I don’t recall what they’re called) where you sell anothers products and services.

They still are around everywhere in cities, especially poorer areas. I live in a part of Chicago, that is declining and you see more and more small business popping up where the larger ones pull out.

A lot of these are immigrant driven and they use kids to help out. So this means they don’t have to pay them and that helps out in terms of payroll and such. A lot of the inner city mothers and such are on medicaid or Illinois, kids under 18 can get free insurance anyway so they don’t need benefits and business will employee them.

The thing I see hurting it most is the credit crunch. A lot of business used their credit cards iwth the huge credit lines and now most of those have been cut off.

When I had my own business it was nice to have a credit card with a $25,000 limit as I could front the costs and that greatly improved sales. But those days are long since gone

I would certainly agree with that. I’ve worked for some really crappy small businesses in my time.

But that’s because they see “a big company” as “safer,” which isn’t necessarily true. In the words of my bro the Finance Manager, “a big company is a lot more likely to use shotgun firings; in a small company if they fire you they’re actually firing you, not the person whose name came out of the hat.” Big companies routinely decide that getting 200% more gains than the previous year isn’t enough and they must fire 30% of their workforce.

As for “helping small businesses,” that’s talk I hear when the economy is good, when it’s bad, when it’s upside-down and when it’s sideways. Small businesses often aren’t intended to grow beyond their current size, but they are viewed by politicians as “baby businesses” (ie potential big businesses) and also, since there’s so many of them, “helping small businesses” means that small-business-people will be happy with the politicians who did it. It’s yet another interest group.

To the OP: I hope not! I sell merchandise to small businesses, so they’re my bread and butter (I work for a tool manufacturer, and I sell air and hand tools wholesale. Most of my customers spend less than $100,000 a year with my company, so while we’ve got mega-customers, my department deals with the small guys, and if they go, there goes my job.)

Lost your job? No problem - just get another one.
Your last comment made ol’ Rocket Ronnie’s unemployment solution jump to mind. :stuck_out_tongue:
We always have good ideas for other people, don’t we?
It looks like small business, and your job, are going to be okay. :cool:

This is all absolutely true. However, small companies that are focused on growth may give you an opportunity to expand with the company even if you stay in effectively the same position in it. If you’re the COO of a three man company that builds the next miracle widget, you may find yourself the COO of a thousand person company and stock options that will let you purchase a small Caribbean nation. Of course, the odds of this happening are slim; most micro-startups belly flop within five years, and the stock options are good only for papering an attic. And even if the widget is successful, you might find yourself sold out or have your proprietary technology stolen by a competitor who has the legal and financial resources to keep you tied up until the patent runs out. But you won’t progress from the mail room to the board room as fast in a large established company as you will in a small, growth-oriented company.

Small businesses have and will continue to have their niches, even (or perhaps especially) those that aren’t oriented on double digit growth and becoming a huge behemoth. The companies that are really getting pinched out are the mid-sized companies; those that don’t have the flexibility and tax benefits of small businesses, but are too small to weather large financial downturns.