So what is a small business then?

My team at the Made Simple Group sent me an email the other day suggesting we take part in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For survey.  Obviously, I was touched by their enthusiasm to participate, (it could be they just want to air their problems), and suggested they follow it up.

Having followed the link on the advertisement, they went through to a company called “Best Companies” who described themselves as workplace engagement specialists.  What a great idea for a business and I applaud their work.  However, I was somewhat surprised if not horrified to discover that we failed to meet the criteria to take part in this survey, because we didn’t have enough employees. 

It would appear that the survey/competition (for that’s what it is as they name the top 100 best companies to work for), is split into 3 categories and the one we were applying for was best small companies.  It would seem that any company with less than 50 employees doesn’t qualify.  Under their definition, small companies are any entity with 50-249 employees.

Once again, here we have an example of a complete lack of understanding of what constitutes a small company.  I don’t care how you define it, a company with 200 employees, no, even 50 employees, is not small.  It may be smaller than many other companies, but it’s not small particularly when there is no other useful definition, as far as I can tell, of a small business.

If small is the lowest category, what is the definition or appropriate word to describe all companies with less than 50 employees?  Is it ‘insignificant’ or ‘doesn’t count’ or something less offensive such as ‘tiny’ or ‘mini’ or dare I say it – invisible.

Just like the government, the media has a complete lack of understanding of what really constitutes the small business sector.

Every business once had less than 50 employees, and businesses with less than 50 employees employ millions of people.

It’s about time that the media, government and big business gave due deference to the value of small businesses and one small first step would be to redefine what is a small business.

Part of the problem in my opinion lies with that horrible definition SME of small and medium sized enterprises.  Perhaps the time has come to split the S and the M and come up with a proper definition for small businesses.