Small Business, Claim your Competitive Advantage
Yesterday, we looked at some reasons why it can be good to be small. As a small business, you:
Have More Flexibility
Have Better Relationships with Customers
Get a Personal connection to the Customer
Have The Community Edge
Today we will look at some more reasons, starting with:
Present a more compelling message
Large companies have so many people involved that it can be really difficult to create a strong message (for example a marketing campaign or new product). With multiple contributors, no one person knows the entire message and it can be difficult to get a consensus. Add to that various layers of management approval and a message will easily get diluted.
However, as a small business you have very few people involved and can create a strong compelling message quickly and then get it out into the wider world.
Better, faster processes with less red tape
Large companies certainly have lots of processes. However, they also have lots of individuals who may or may not follow them. Think about it, for a proposal, there may be different teams involved, reporting to different supervisors, with different (and possibly conflicting) objectives. It can be both challenging and time consuming to get everyone to agree. The chances are, that with larger organisations there will also be an element of office politics involved too. The different individuals or departments may all be following a different process, so a new one has to be introduced to ensure consistency for each new project and then everyone has to agree to follow it. If this is repeated again and again, then confusion will be the constant. Understandably people can then be reluctant to learn new processes so frequently and actually the whole thing becomes more chaotic.
As a small company, you can create a simple process and follow it. If it needs improving, you just improve it, document it and get going. Your small team can be trained on it immediately and they will support it, so it will work efficiently straight away. You can do this in hours, whereas it could take your large competitors weeks!
Smaller organisations are, by their very natures, lean. With fewer employees and fewer layers of management, they tend to operate more efficiently. As already discussed, this means there are advantages in terms of flexibility and adaptability that a larger company simply does not have. A smaller, leaner structure enables the people in the company are much closer to their business and to the customer, meaning that not only do they have a better understanding of what you are trying to achieve, but usually have better relationships with those all-important customers.
Straightforward to deal with
In a smaller organisation, ideas, complaints and suggestions go straight to those who can implement or correct quickly, without going through endless channels like in a large business. Customers love this. Can you remember the last time you had a complaint or query with a large company and you got passed around from department to department with no obvious resolution in sight? Well imagine getting through straight away to the decision maker and getting a decision at once. There is no way a larger company can ever compete with this.
This direct involvement with customers means that not only are customers happier, but the organisation gradually becomes much more in tune with what they want and what concerns they are experiencing. The result? Even better solutions and even happier customers.
In an age where a company’s green credentials and ethics are becoming more and more important, small businesses are the least likely to harm the environment. They are more likely to cater for the local community, which means less driving and more walking. Because they have less money, they are much more likely to manage their energy costs (things like turning the heating down and switching off lights). Those businesses operating from home don’t tend to use storage or office space.
Bend The Rules
Most large companies have strict guidelines and policies. If, as an individual in a large organisation, you tried to bend the rules (even if it turned out to help a customer), there is a good chance you will end up on some sort of disciplinary! As a small company you can be malleable and adjust your policies as you see fit. One of your biggest assets is flexibility and you have the opportunity to treat every customer in a unique fashion.
So for example, if a customer returns something outside the normal return period, then consider not penalising them. If a customer is a couple of days late paying, don’t charge them the late fee. If have a delivery to make, then maybe do it yourself instead of using the company van. Give them something for free, just because you feel like it. People really value these small touches and over time, you will see that word about you soon spreads. Large companies are simply not set up to work in the same way.
In conclusion, there are really so many advantages to being small. And remember, David did beat Goliath in the end!
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