Continuing our occasional feature where we interview reporters and bloggers to see what’s working, what’s next and where small businesses are headed, Airfoil PR talked with GrowBiz Media’s Rieva Lesonsky about small business in 2011.

 

What are the hottest SMB trends for 2011?

The hottest trends at the moment seem to be the ones revolving around either demographic groups or food. The first baby boomers turn 65 this year, the second round of boomers (Millennials) are on the verge of adulthood, and there are lots of babies being born in the U.S. All these fact create opportunities for service businesses to help these folks. Some particularly hot areas to investigate include: nonmedical home care; adult day care; tutoring services, and anything wedding related.

What does the profile of a successful SMB look like today?

I don’t think there’s a specific profile of a small-business owner today. That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship. If you have the right idea, age, gender and race does not matter. That said, I think we’ll see an uptick in the number of businesses started by Americans over the age of 50 (it’s hard for them to find jobs). The fastest-growing segment of small businesses is owned by Hispanic-Americans.

What are the biggest pain points for SMBs right now?

The biggest pain point for most small businesses today is simply not enough customers. And the customers they do have aren’t spending as much as they used to. Access to capital remains a problem, but the simple truth is the recession will truly be over when Americans start spending money again.

How do you perceive SMBs are feeling about the economic recovery?

Most surveys are actually saying that many small-business owners are feeling optimistic about the economy—they at least think we’re headed to better days.

What’s stopping SMBs from using social media?

In a survey my company did with Zoomerang, we actually found that many small businesses are using social media. Facebook was their No. 1 marketing social medium used. What was interesting was that the younger the business owner, the more varied their social media menu seemed to be. Those business owners age 50 and up primarily used the big three: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, while those in their 20s and 30s added Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places to their mix. Part of the trepidation some business owners have about using social media I think is caused by how overwhelming social media can be. It takes a lot of time, something most entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of.

What issues will SMBs need to deal with or overcome in 2011?

Small-business owners need to deal with the slow economic recovery. What will drive consumers into stores and to websites? There’s also increasing competition from big businesses and businesses all over the globe competing for consumers’ attention. Also, as business picks up, small businesses are going to face the hiring question. Should they hire, or wait it out? Another issue here is that many haven’t reinvested in their businesses in the last two years and are now saddled with old, outdated and slow technology.

How are SMBs news consumption habits changing (or aren't they)?

I am not sure exactly how most SMBs get their news. But I’d guess many get the toplines online or from places like Twitter.

 

Rieva Lesonsky, founder and CEO of GrowBiz Media, is a widely recognized small-business expert and author of the bestselling book Start Your Own Business. Former Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine, Rieva has been meeting with, consulting to and speaking to America’s SMBs—and the big corporations that want to reach them—for over 25 years. This experience has given her an inside perspective on what entrepreneurs want, how to connect with them, and how to help them grow successful businesses. Rieva has worked with B-to-B marketers including American Express, Dell, State Farm and many others, and with organizations including ASBDC, SCORE and the SBA, to market to and educate entrepreneurs.

—Meg Soule