Through the many small businesses owners I’ve talked with I generally found one common flaw in their line of thinking: they wanted to compete with the conglomerates.
Competition on a large scale is a great mindset to be in for small business owners but it’s often far removed from reality. A small business that produces software for computers will most likely never reach the same levels of success as those already established like Apple or Microsoft.
This isn’t to deter any SBO from chasing their lofty goals; it’s meant to help them understand that they need to focus on obtainable growth rather than outlandish ideas.
Think of it this way:
· Your business will most likely never have the marketing budget of Coca-Cola
· Your business will most likely never have the production capability of Samsung
· Your business will most likely never have the retail space of Wal-Mart
But that’s okay.
The reality is that to be successful you don’t have to play on the same field as the “big boys”. In fact, it’s probably better that you stay lean and agile so there is less bureaucracy in your workforce. This can stifle the ability for key members of the business to develop and build on ideas that later turn the business venture successful.
Case-in-point: The wonderful thing about small businesses is that they’re able to work on a local level. On a local level, for example, if the SBO needed IT services in Ottawa, it would be available at their doorstep rather than navigating through a hierarchy of individuals until the task is completed. Since committees aren’t calling the shots, a SBO is able to conduct their business in an agile fashion to keep up with the rapid development and shifts in the marketplace.
There are often three key areas of business which SBOs can reproduce at a fraction of the budget yet remain competitive with the larger players in the marketplace:
The “three T’s” for our purpose of discussion.
The first, talent, can be found throughout the globe largely due in part to freelance services, remote technology, and a willingness to relocate. The larger businesses tap into these workforce marketplaces to find the best individuals for the position but where an SBO can benefit is through the fact that the operation is small and agile.
Many individuals, as proficient as they may be and can find perfect placement in corporations, may not necessarily want to deal with the corporate environment.
In a way – SBOs find talent that are counterculture to the corporate lifestyle and that gives them an advantage; it’s why you see many tech company’s valuation explode because those that are working on the project are passionate and going against the grain versus merely being a cog in the machine.
The second, technology, is obtainable to any SBO that is willing to take a gander at the options. Sure, big corporations will develop in-house technology that will be beneficial to their gain but for every move they make you can generally bet there is an individual that wants to replicate the possibility.
Some larger corporations are quick to the punch but then again there are many other times when their lag in response has cost them a great deal of capital (since they have more to lose). Small businesses gain an advantage because they are personal with their connections; a customer is just as valuable as a business partner and when the marketplace sees this commitment they, too, return the favor.
Lastly, tenacity, is something that is often squelched in large corporations; a major benefit of small operations because there is less overhead. Working with a small crew that’s passionate will get tasks done because there is a vested interest in seeing it to completion. A large corporation, where a single person may feel alienated and yet another piece of the “machine”, clocks in, does their work, and heads home without much thought since they will likely never gain from their actions.
A small business environment, if there is room to grow and test ideas, is an area where even the inexperienced can make a gigantic impact on the growth of the business. When people are behind a leader which gives the right resources – they are going to perform because they can show their talent and grow as an individual.
Though we opened with the thought that the SBO is facing a goliath of a challenge with no foreseeable outcome in comparison to corporate dominance – it’s very evident that the right mix of talent, technology, and tenacity can make all the difference.
Small and agile allows the SBO to make laps around the “big boys” that are sluggish due to their bureaucracy and fear of risk. Don’t allow their intimidation and placement in the marketplace prevent you from taking a piece of the pie; they’re scared, and often it shows, so use it to your advantage.