Strategies: Intuit CEO looks to the future of small business

Let's say you're a plumber, a telecom installer or a mobile dog groomer. When you come out and do the work for your customer, you can get paid on the spot instead of having to go back to your office, send an invoice, and then wait to get a check. Instead, you can have money in your bank account right away. With certain phones, you can also add a device to swipe the card (instead of entering numbers manually) and even print out a receipt. You can learn more about GoPayment at www.mobilepayment.intuit.com.

How does Intuit compete, especially in this economy? Smith sees their competition as "six guys and ladies in a garage" rather than big corporations. Smith asks his employees to keep an eye on what young, hungry, cutting-edge companies are doing, and come back and tell him what they loved about them. "We're looking to learn from and embrace what smaller, new companies are developing." In fact, Intuit has busily been acquiring some of those companies.

"We're playing offense in a downturn, even if we have to give it away free," Smith answered. "We're staying focused on the long-term, staying focused on the customer."

Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop, publisher of books for entrepreneurs. Her newest book is Successful Marketing: Secrets & Strategies. Register for Rhonda's free business tips at www.PlanningShop.com. For an index of her columns, click here. Copyright Rhonda Abrams 2009.

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