The Recession is Imperative for Small Businesses

Small businesses can still grow and be profitable in this time of recession.    

There are numerous macro influences (external conditions) which impact businesses.  However, Entrepreneurs are said to be especially good at spotting opportunities, innovating and taking risks.  They run small businesses and are responsible, sometimes solely, for the decision-making.  The purpose of this blog is to explain Marketing Orientation and how Entrepreneurs can use this to navigate these bad times.

Marketing Orientation

Carson et al (1995) believes that marketing is the last business discipline a small business owner will acquire.  Finance, production and sales will always come first.  Marketing can also be viewed as peripheral to business processes, especially when the business has organic success; however, it has more meaning when there is a need for growth or a bad patch is experienced.

Blankson (2006) defines marketing orientation as a culture in which organisations strive to create superior value for their customer by focusing on customer needs and long term profitability.

Levitt (1960) introduced the concept of marketing orientation in his seminal piece which urged marketers to look at the bigger picture.  To believe they are in the transport business, not the railroad, understanding holistically how it sits within its own environment.

Having a vision for the organisation is an important part of marketing and management strategy building. 

A vision sets the path of the organisation. At a SME Strategy Business Link event it was suggested that decision makers of the business could undertake two brainstorming exercises as the starting point of strategy building.  Generate words related firstly, to your vision of the business in 3 years’ time and secondly, the desired view of your many stakeholders (customers, competitors, suppliers etc).  This is then whittled down into one coherent sentence to produce the vision of the organisation.

The next step is to use a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) on your business, to determine how this vision can be achieved.  Business and Marketing Students might think this basic and obvious but for an entrepreneur, who does things by instinct, this could be seen as revolutionary.

Entrepreneurs are inherently different from marketers.  They are informal as opposed to formal, haphazard as opposed to sequential, opportunistic and reactive as opposed to disciplined and structured (Hill, 1987).

Lost its sense of fun and forgotten how to flirt

Brown (2001) believes accepting marketing as the back bone of business has created a “sober-sided discipline”, which “has lost its sense of fun and forgotten how to flirt”.  One of my lecturers believed that Marketing was a codified form of entrepreneurship; a collection of models and methods which can be taught and implemented by large organisations.

The area of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial marketing has only been researched in recent decades.  In the past entrepreneurial marketing was not considered to be different from text book marketing.  It was widely assumed in academia that SMEs just required a simplified version of the more ‘sophisticated’ marketing practices used by the largest companies.  However Carson et al (1995) examines the traditional marketing techniques and argue that many are “inappropriate, wasteful and ineffective” for SMEs, especially when conducted in a general manner.

One of the biggest hurdles to Entrepreneurial Marketing is perception. 

Blankson (2006) reminds us of the limited conceptualization of marketing in the UK.  That marketing is only thought to be about promotion of the business.  Many people believe marketing has to be expensive and requires specialist expertise.  Entrepreneurs can also be opposed to business school techniques and jargon and may be more likely to accept marketing ideas if they are jargon-free and can be easily related to their own situation.

Many entrepreneurs think they are unique and that no general rules can apply to them (Cohn and Lindbore 1972), because of this they may feel that those external conditions are outside of their control and so need not be taken account of.  However, the economic downturn, the bankers’ fiasco, lack of lending and the Middle Eastern troubles will have dramatic implications on all businesses, large or small.  Small businesses perhaps will be most affected as they don’t have the financial resources and market share to fall back on.


The one resounding complaint small business owners have is lack of time.  This downturn, when less activity is happening, can provide a breathing space for the time-restricted manager to re-think and analyse.  By reviewing the offering, products, services and customer bases as well as setting strategic aims, the entrepreneur can become more marketing orientated, more efficient and more effective at what they do.

Entrepreneurs have little time to spend analysing and tweaking their business, therefore the recession is imperative for small business to become sustainable and plan for the future.

Why not give Sayers Solutions a call to arrange a free no obligation chat about your business.


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