In general, 80% of businesses employ 20 or fewer employees. 20% of businesses employ 20 or more. This is the reality of the US economy.
The 20% of businesses with large workforces rely on design for marketing, internal communications, shareholder relations, product design and a host of other areas that ultimately create a perception about them in the minds of their employees and consumers. They are using design to shape an image of who they want you to think they are, and in the meantime your experiences and reactions to their design decisions create a perception of who you think they are.
The 80 percent of businesses with small workforces don’t always rely on design, but the smart (and successful) ones do. The decision to engage or not engage their employees and consumers with design have the same effect as do the decisions by the larger businesses.
There’s much to be learned from the companies spending the money on branding and design, especially for those of us in the 80% bracket. Pay attention to what’s written about them and how they project their image, and a small business owner can put those practices to use in their own business.
Addendum: the Small Business Administration has a very informative PDF available on small business statistics.