Defining the small firm is somewhat arbitrary as criteria used to classify entities as such include size, number of employees, sales volume, asset size, type of customer, capital requirements and market share. There is, however, general agreement that smallness and newness create specific difficulties for business. Furthermore, there is widespread acceptance of the notion that small firms typically possess certain characteristics, which serve to differentiate them from larger organisations. These characteristics include inherent weaknesses with respect to capitalisation and marketing awareness and practice. Small firms are perceived as vulnerable yet valuable entities, important both economically and socially. High failure rates of small firms are largely attributed to weaknesses in financial management and marketing. Many classical management concepts are unsuitable for application in a small firm context, with research suggesting non-implementation of theoretically based marketing practice is the rule rather than the exception in the small firm. This paper reviews issues pertaining to marketing practice in the small firm. It examines the absence of agreed definitions of "the small firm" and "success" or "failure" of such entities, offers definitions for these terms, acknowledges the importance of small firms to the economy, reviews small firm characteristics, acknowledges inherent weaknesses with regard to finance and marketing in small firms, reviews marketing practice in the context of small firm characteristics, and considers the roles of marketing educators and owner/managers in improving small firm's marketing practice.
Small Business Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 11, 2004
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