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The Small Business Market Is a Massive Opportunity No Longer Hiding in Plain Sight Small businesses cumulative are a far larger economic force than any one giant corporation.

By Russ Fujioka Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Until recently, the small business market was highly fragmented, expensive to reach and costly to serve.

But technology is closing that gap. Increasingly small business platforms are connecting big business with the small business opportunity, making it far more efficient to offer solutions that were once only viable for enterprise-level corporations. Combined, small businesses are the largest employers, job generators and GDP contributors in the world. It's a massive market opportunity that's been hiding in plain sight.

The rise of the small business economy is the result of a number of market fundamentals. After the Global Financial Crisis, many people were forced to start working for themselves, to make their own opportunities, as big business wasn't hiring at its previous cadence.

Related: Why Now Is the Best Time to Start Your Own Business

Technology has not only made it easier to start a businness, but with platforms like Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit or democratizing the job search, and connecting labor supply directly with demand, it's also simplified the search for freelance or on-demand work.

There's been a marked shift in the way society views and talks about both small businesses and startups. Television shows like Shark Tank and Beyond The Tank are now prime-time viewing.

When owners of small businesses today think about pitching their business, they're always selling, talking about capital, getting mentorship and advice, which has created a stronger set of small businesses.

By turning the search for funding, advice and pitching into mainstream topics, Shark Tank has completely changed the way we talk about small business and it's inspired entrepreneurs to capitalize on this. However, to understand the small business market opportunity, you need to understand what keeps owners up at night.

Related: Is Declining Business Failure Holding Back Entrepreneurship?

One of the biggest worries for small business owners is cashflow. Shark Tank has shown the importance of figuring out how you're going to fund your operations, whether it be through outside investment, a bank loan or personal savings. It's good fiscal hygiene to lock in your capital source when times are good. It's much easier to access funding when you don't need it than during a cashflow emergency.

Establishing a panel of advisors can be business critical. Some of the advice the Sharks give these budding entrepreneurs is worth more than any monetary investment. Having a diverse set of mentors or industry veterans can help clarify your next steps, set the right goals and implement a plan to hit them. You don't know what you don't know. By bringing in an outsider you can gain perspective that will help you work on your business, not just in it.

Small business owners wear many hats. Usually they're the CMO, CPO, administration person and HR director all at once. But the role they always need to be playing is the sales person. Shark Tank has shown us time and time again the difference between a well-honed pitch and an average one. To win business, you need to truly understand your product or service's market fit and the benefits it provides.

But by far, the most successful small businesses actual know the Shark they want to have bite. They have a great idea, the passion and the financial answers to reel in the Shark. Bottom line, they know what they need outside of the financing itself.

Related: Only 1 in 3 Americans Have Heard of Equity Crowdfunding

By combining technology advances with a societal shift towards supporting our small business owners, including shopping local initiatives and mainstreaming issues like funding and strong business education and advice, we can start to rewire our economy, lowering the national unemployment rate and boosting GDP in the process.

Russ Fujioka

President, US division of Xero

Russ Fujioka is president of Xero in the US. He has more than 25 years’ experience providing strategic and operational leadership to cloud, Software as a Service and technology providers with a focus on sales, marketing and operational management of high growth businesses. Fujioka has held senior executive roles at Dell, Bessemer Venture Partners, J. Walter Thompson and Adobe Systems.


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