What businesses need … the big M

What are the biggest issues facing small businesses today?  In talking to Sharon King, director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Boulder, CO yesterday, she shared that the top concerns are:
- Not enough capital
- Not enough sales, as a result of increased competition

Both issues revolve around the big M—money and marketing.  Many businesses never had to market, or so they thought.  Times and perceptions have changed.  Marketing is an essential part of keeping your business alive and helping it thrive.  When Richard A. Davis (know as the RAD) and I (known as the ISH, for Including Szczurek Happily) were starting Radish Communications Systems, an entrepreneurial venture based on computer telephony technology, we had an interesting debate.  “What percentage of our business success will be based on the technology and what percentage will be based on the marketing of the technology?”

How would YOU answer that question?  Not surprising, RAD, the technical visionary and inventor, then said “80 to 90% of success is based on the idea, concept, and technology.”  The ISH, leading the business side including all marketing of the venture, made a shockingly insightful statement not appreciated at the time, “At most 10% of the success is based on technology, 90% is based on marketing and the business side of running the firm.” 

Time would tell. Now I know that I should have based the percentage of the company I was to own as a Radish co-founder on the importance of marketing.  Today after we grew that company from $0 to $40 million in less than six entrepreneurial light years and sold it, RAD, based on his additional experience in starting a number of other entrepreneurial ventures, would have to fess up that sales and marketing is what makes or breaks a firm.

In talking recently to a prospective client, who is leading a fledgling software company that is profitable yet not growing at its potential, the CEO explained, “I forgot to do marketing.”  This is not an uncommon condition for the geek (and the non-geek) who starts and runs a company.  There is much more work to do than time available.  People tend to do the things they are most comfortable with.  That is exactly why there is a demand for my firm’s consulting and coaching services to help organizations and leaders produce extraordinary results.

Criteria for Selecting Marketing (and other Organization) Professionals.  Here’s what to look for in choosing help:
- Hire a Master-level practitioner who meets the standards of a peer review process.  Ask what experience do you have in helping create effective and efficient organizations?  Ask what ongoing professional development do you engage in? Ask what credentials or certifications do you hold?
- Uses sound theoretical frameworks.  Ask what theories do you regularly operate from?
- Ascribes to ethical standards and practices.  Ask what are your ethical standards and how do you put those into practice?

That is why I am a certified member of Associated Consultants International (  ACI members experience that peers provide excellent evaluation of competence through a process for periodic professional review and member certification. We know that this process results in reliable decisions with regard to the proficiency of individual practitioners.

Coming Next.  Look for the next edition: Summer dreams and the perils of being overscheduled. 

“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.”  Lin Yutang  (from the quote library at


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