Small Businesses Aren't So Small, After All

October 15, 2018

How big is a small business? Do small businesses only exist in downtown business districts, on main streets, or in homes?

No. Small businesses can be quite large. The official Small Business Administration (SBA) definition of a small business depends on which industry you're talking about. Annual revenues can be in the millions with a few hundred employees (such as manufacturing), and less than one million dollars in average annual receipts (for most agricultural industries).


Definition of a Small Business

According to the SBA, a small business is a business entity:

  • that is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation, is organized for profit with a place of business located in the United States, and operates primarily within the United States; and

  • that does not exceed the applicable size standard for its industry as established under 13 C.F.R. § 121. In general, the most common size standards are:

    • 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries

    • 100 employees for most wholesale trade industries

    • $36.5 million in average annual receipts for most general & heavy construction industries

    • $15 million in average annual receipts for all specialty trade contractors

    • $7.5 million in average annual receipts for most retail and service industries

    • $0.75 million in average annual receipts for most agricultural industries


In order to determine your size status for SBA program eligibility (such as confidential business counseling, federal contracting small business set-asides, or SBA guaranteed loans), use one of the following resources:


Many businesses in rural mid-Missouri qualify as a small, independently owned and operated business. Assistance through training opportunities, business counseling, and private investment are available to small businesses through GrowMidMo and SBTDC. To discuss these programs with a Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center business counselor, check out the program here. If you are interested in upcoming training opportunities, look at the calendar of events here.

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