If the defendant doesn't show up in court, often you win automatically. Keep in mind that if you lose your case, you do not have the right to sue again in a regular court. However, if the defendant loses, he does have the right to appeal to another court.
If you win, there's still no guarantee that the defendant will pay the judgment. In some states, the court has no power to make the defendant hand over the money. Other states are more helpful. It's possible the defendant simply doesn't have the money to give you.
At that point you can research whether the defendant owns any real estate and put a lien against that real estate. When the defendant goes to sell the property, he will have to pay you out of the proceeds. If the defendant owns any valuables like a car or store inventory, you may be able to get the sheriff's department to seize those valuables and auction them off to satisfy your judgment. You may also be able to garnish the defendant's wages.
In that case small claims court has lead to a big job: getting your money.