As a small business owner it can be intimidating even thinking about how to compete with the big business that leads your industry. Every industry has at least one giant with more spending power and resources than their competitors. It may seem that this giant company has the upper hand in both the physical and digital world, however, this does not mean there aren’t any areas in which you can outwit and outmaneuver your competition. It’s time to think creatively! Here are 5 areas where you can compete, and win, against a big business.
1. Be nimble
This is advice as old as David and Goliath, but that’s because it’s true. What small businesses lack in purchasing power, they make up for in agility. Meanwhile, big businesses take a very long time to change direction, so don’t be afraid to pivot!
Small businesses often have less red tape, and fewer processes in place, meaning when appropriate, it can be much quicker to implement change. Even if this tip refers to minor changes or innovations, small businesses have the upper hand here. Take advantage of new opportunities and iterate quickly, which is much easier for you. Always be sure to keep your ear to the ground, as businesses don’t often win off the biggest ideas, but simply being the first to market.
2. Excel in customer service
This is both a tip and a warning. Small businesses can have a true competitive advantage in the area of customer service, but a blunder in this area can have a much greater impact on your bottom line. Still, as a small business owner, you can build a much stronger, more personal relationship with customers. Many customers are willing to pay a little more to receive truly great customer service, and there are very few exceptions to that rule.
“The more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy.” – Dharmesh Shah
3. Connect with your audience
A benefit of being a small business is your ability to connect with your audience digitally. This is related to customer service, as your ability to build a connection with individuals is enhanced, but this is not about answering customer complaints. Connect with your customer base by providing something for free! Maybe you’re a hardware store providing renovation tips, or a sports physio clinic providing exercise prescription. What you provide does not matter as much as the fact that you are providing something, and showing that you truly care about your customer base.
Social media platforms are perfect platforms to engage customers, but know your audience! If you are a personal trainer, Instagram is likely the best platform for you, but a business-to-business payment platform like Ablii is likely not going to to do as well on Instagram, so look to Twitter or LinkedIn if you play in the B2B space.
4. Play in a small ‘niche’ market
It is often the case that big businesses need to play in multiple spaces at once in order to grow, or even maintain their size. While large Consumer Packaged Good (CPG) companies like General Mills or Kelloggs saw success for years, we are now seeing dozens of small companies taking a bite out of their market share. The reason is, these smaller companies decided to focus on one product and do it really well, while the ‘big guys’ need to maintain their presence across many products. Let the big guys make decisions based on national, or even global sales trends while you focus on having a great understanding of your local or regional customer needs.
5. Reputation is everything
A business’ reputation does not rely purely on product quality, or customer service, which is why this rule relates back to everything we’ve discussed in this article. There are plenty of large businesses that are viewed as mediocre or worse, and while they may have been able to expand using pricing tactics or large marketing budgets, small businesses must rely on building a reputation for all-around excellence. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “It takes so many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it”, so keep reputation above all else.