We live in a big business world. And, those big businesses are getting bigger. Not only did Amazon just buy Whole Foods, big companies are continuing to get bigger through mergers and acquisitions, giving themselves more buying power and wiping out competitors that stand in their way.
Small businesses may seem at a disadvantage when compared to larger firms simply due to their restrictions; smaller staffs, smaller budgets, and fewer resources. However, small businesses can actually hold their own in the market by playing to their strengths.
Think about it this way; big businesses have a huge disadvantage. They lose because they’re too big. They’re not nimble. They can’t provide the support, service, and personalization that small businesses can.
Here are 6 Tips to Help Small Businesses Level the Playing Field.
1. Be Yourself & Build Personal Relationship
This is easy as cake if done right. You are your brand when starting. You have to represent that brand at every angle. Connect with your target market, strategic partners, community and stakeholders. If you lack a personal brand, people will not build a relationship with the brand itself. With a big corporation, chances are there’s no real relationship with the business beyond that employee. With a small business, this doesn’t have to be the case at all. It’s possible to build a relationship with clients on all levels because there are often fewer of them. Cultivate these relationships—highlight clients on social media, interview customers for your blog, and celebrate their successes with them. Treat your customers well and they will reward you with amazing word of mouth advertising.
“We build relationships with brands for the same reasons we build them with people.”
2. Use Technology and Social Media
It should feel like a no brainer that everyone everywhere is using social media, but there are still small businesses that don’t. Even still, many small businesses are active on social media because they feel like they are supposed to be without realizing that many potential customers start the buying process online. Social media sites and blogs let businesses of all sizes put themselves out there. With a little time, research, and planning you can create a social media profile that hits your target demographics and brings in more business.
“Never stop testing & tweaking your social content. Patience is the key to success.”
3. Take Advantage of Being Small
There are times when it’s better to be a small business, believe it or not. There are many advantages that go unnoticed in a small company. Some customers seek out small businesses rather than going to large corporations. Think of all the people who love the phrase #shoplocal, #shopsmall, and #supportlocal. Many individuals frequent these small shops to keep their economy and towns booming. Take advantage of this. Small business can have an immediate leg up on competition with customer service. You can leverage your personal brand, personal relationships to make your customers feel special.
“The world is changing fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be beating the slow.”
4. Empower your Employees
Keeping your employees happy by listening to them can be a key factor in employee retention. Also having employees that love where they work and love what they do will translate to their customers and clients. Small businesses have a higher retention rate since their employees feel like they are a part of the business and ultimately a family, just not another employee. Tapping into passion is key to staying motivated. People will be organically attracted to you because of your passion. Bring your excitement to work everyday and have it rub off on your employees. Now that’s what #companyculture should look like.
“Having a staff that gels and excels doesn’t usually happen by chance.”
5. Find your niche
Small businesses need to focus on niche markets. Select one to two markets you can attack and go after them. Focus on specialization, this is where you can hit a ball out of the park. Do your research so you choose the right audience and in return they will help your business grow. Sorry, but “everyone” is not your target audience. You must focus. You must know your audience. Know what keeps them up at night. What problems do they have that you can help them with. How can you add value to their business and their life? How are you going to help them in a way that the big guys can’t? These are the questions you must ask and fast.
“For every great business success, there was a courageous person behind it that made a difficult decision.”
6. Slow & Steady Wins The Race
You have to create and perfect your brand before you share it with the masses. You have to make your brand voice visible and clear. You only have one chance to make a first, second and third impression. The details matter and how you enter the market matters even more. You have to create a plan, without it you have no framework and backbone for the direction of your company. Slow and steady will win the race to success.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Focus on the reasons why it’s great to be small instead of the other way around. A small business can go for the gold in more ways than money. They can define how they want to operate, listen to their customers and react quickly.
Speaking of which, it’s time for your business to take these 6 things and put them into action. Quickly!