SMB definition: How various vendors compare

Everyone defines SMB differently. Some do it by employee count, others by revenue. Check out this list of vendor and analyst firm definitions to see where your business falls.

SMB is a term thrown around a lot, but does it mean the same to everyone? In short, no. We've put together a list

of how vendors and analyst groups define small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). Some do it by number of employees and some by revenue, while others do it by PCs and end users. Some companies break out small vs. medium or midmarket, while others don't. So how do you know a company means you when it says SMB? This list is a good start.

Ed. note: We'll add to this list as we get more definitions. However, if there is a company you would like to see added, please contact us and let us know. Also, most of these companies noted their definitions were "generally speaking."

Vendors

  • Avaya Inc.: Small businesses are those with 100 or fewer employees; very small businesses have 20 or fewer employees.
  • Business Objects SA: Companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenues or fewer than 2,500 employees. The employee count is used more for organizations that have either high revenue-to-employee ratios (such as some services company) or no specific revenues (such as a government agency).
  • CA: 250-500 seats, because seats and employees may not always be synonymous, as in situations like manufacturing plants, where there are more employees than seats.
  • Cisco Systems Inc.: One to 250 employees.
  • Dell Inc.: Small business is defined as one to 200 employees, and medium as 201 to 500 employees.
  • EMC Corp.: Any company with less than $24,999,999 in revenue is considered an SMB.
  • Hewlett-Packard, Corp. (HP): HP doesn't have a specific definition for SMBs. Here's how an HP spokesperson defined it for us: "We don't lump small businesses together with mid-sized businesses and instead tailor our marketing and go-to-market strategies appropriately to each. Small and medium businesses vary on the information they need and the solutions they need. So we also leverage our relationships with resellers to customize our offerings and messages for these customers."
  • IBM: Small business is those with 99 or fewer employees, and the midmarket has companies with 100 to 1,000 employees. "These are general guidelines for purposes of coverage and development of offerings."
  • McAfee Inc.: Fewer than 1,000 end users.
  • Microsoft: Small companies have 24 or fewer PCs and fewer than 50 employees. Microsoft defines midmarket businesses as those with 25 to 499 PCs, or 50 to 999 employees.
  • Nortel Networks Ltd.: In terms of total network users, small companies have fewer than 100 and medium-sized companies have 100 to 250.
  • Oracle: Oracle defines small businesses as those with revenues of $500 million and below, and medium as between $500 million and $1 billion. However, it tends to vary by industry and product.
  • SAP AG: Small companies have 100 or fewer employees, midsized companies have 101 to 2,500 employees, and large companies have more than 2,501 employees.
  • SAS Institute Inc.: The business intelligence software and services company defines the upper midmarket as companies with $500 million to $1 billion in annual sales, the lower midmarket as businesses with $200-$500 million, and small companies as those with less than $200 million.
  • StoreVault: The Network Appliance Inc. division defines SMB as a business with four to 50 servers, fewer than 500 employees and one half terabyte (TB) to 3 TB of data storage needs today, with key pain points around data protection and recovery. Furthermore, these companies manage their infrastructure with no dedicated storage expertise in-house, but instead with an IT generalist who typically has a budget of less than $20,000 per year to spend on storage products and services.
  • Symantec Corp.: Symantec defines small businesses as those with revenues of $100,000 to $50 million and medium as between $50 million and $500 million.
  • Xerox Corp.: Xerox defines small business as those with as one to 100 employees, and medium as those with 101 to 500 employees.

SMB. Not to be confused with ...

  • Super Mario Brothers: A Nintendo video game.
  • Super Monkey Ball: A Sega video game.
  • Sports medicine boot: What a horse wears to help absorb the impact when the hoof hits the ground.
  • Server Message Block: A network protocol.
  • Society for Mathematical Biology: An international organization in mathematical biology.
  • San Miguel Beer: A Philippine beer.
  • San Miguel Beermen: A Philippine professional basketball team.
  • Screaming Mechanical Brain: An industrial rock band. 
  • Seven Mile Beach: A name of many beaches.
  • Spartan Marching Band: The band at Michigan State University.
  • Steve Miller Band: A 1970's rock band.

Analyst firms

  • AMI Partners Inc.: Small companies have fewer than 100 employees and medium companies have 100-999 employees. However, these do not include small offices of 99+ employees that are part of a larger organization or home-based business, government or charitable organizations or franchises.
  • AMR Research: Companies with less than $1 billion in revenue.
  • Forrester Research Inc.: Companies with six to 999 employees.
  • Gartner Inc.: Small businesses have fewer than 100 employees, and midsized businesses have 100 to 1,000 employees.
  • IDC: For U.S.-based companies, the standard definitions are small is one to 99 employees and medium is 100-999 employees. This excludes home-based businesses. Outside the U.S., the midmarket ends at 499 and large businesses begin at 500.
  • Info-Tech Research Group: Small companies have less than $150 million in annual revenue and fewer than 150 employees. Medium-sized companies have between $150 million and $1 billion in revenue annually and between 50 and 5,000 employees. Those definitions may vary depending on the vertical market, where analysts may choose to define things slightly differently.
  • New! Yankee Group Research, Inc.: Companies with 500 to 1,000 employees.

 

This was first published in February 2007

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