What is a Small Business – and how can marketers reach them?

November 27th, 2017 by

What is a Small Business – and how can marketers reach them?

 I must get 15 calls a week from people who are looking for a list of small businesses so they can reach out to them for marketing purposes.

Most of them define small businesses as operations with less than 20 employees.  Others ask for a mailing list of businesses with fewer than 10 employees; still others request a list of businesses with under 50 employees.

Which is the right description?

The IRS considers a business small, if it has under $10 million in assets.

The Small Business Administration definition is: “a size standard, which is usually stated in number of employees or average annual receipts, represents the largest size that a business (including its subsidiaries and affiliates) may be to remain classified as a small business for SBA and federal contracting programs. The definition of “small” varies by industry.”  (Well, that wasn’t much help….)

To clarify, the SBA considers a local bakery that employs 10 people a small business. They say a manufacturing facility that employs fewer than 500 people is an example of a small business.


In the United States, 99.7 percent of all businesses have fewer than 500 employees, according to government statistics. Of those, nearly 80 percent – or more than 23 million enterprises – are one-person operations.

The U.S. Census Bureau also offers some detailed statistics about U.S. businesses, including a Census Business Builder where a user can upload their own data and to view it along with U.S. Census Bureau and other data.