So, you’re a small fish in a pond full of much larger fish with sharp teeth that are ready to pounce on you. All the while you’re watching your back whilst trying to get your fair share of food. It’s a scary thing for a small company to stand up to the competition and risk loosing everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve. But if you turn the way you think about your competitors on its head and see the advantages that a small business has that they don’t then not only can you make space for yourself and your product in a crowded market, but you can also make your business stronger in the process.
Here are some tips:
- Play to your differences – You’ll never be able to compete directly with large corporates. You just don’t have the same resources and budgets, so don’t even try and keep up with their activities. When offering a similar product, price is often the area that most small business try and compete on, but many get involved in pricing wars that they just can’t win and this sometimes proves fatal. Find a differentiator other than price such as unsurpassable customer service. Corporates spend obscene amounts of money trying to create a more personal service but it invariably comes across as being forced and disjointed. Small businesses naturally have the opportunity to offer this so look for the little things that make the difference to your customers.
- Embrace change and retain agility – Charles Darwin once wrote “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” The same is true for businesses and the smaller the business the more agile you can be. Don’t get bogged down with internal processes and procedures that constrain progress and use the opportunity you have to act quickly.“… Organizations that are good react quickly to change. […] organizations that are great create change.” Robert Kriegel, Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers. Large organisations invest heavily in developing their products and looking for new opportunities so you should use the resources you have to drive change too and beat them at their own game using your ability to act quickly to get to the finish line and launch your product first.
- Knowledge and insight are gold – The more knowledge you have about your competitors, the market in which you operate, your customers and your target market the better. This information is what will fuel your ideas and carve your journey forward. Don’t overlook your current customer base. Conduct some research to find out what their needs are and whether you are meeting them. What do they look for in a product and a supplier? What do they think you could do better? What do they need for the future? Try and meet their needs as best you can so they have no reason to go elsewhere.
- Never get complacent – if you’re a big enough threat to your competitors then they’ll be watching you like a hawk. Another quote now from a man who seems to know his stuff: “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive,“ Andy Grove. It’s hard work keeping ahead but as soon as you stop or slow down you’ll be overtaken.
- Have confidence – Be confident in your products, your business and your team. It’s contagious so if you have confidence in what you’re offering and in the ability of your business to compete then your employees will too and you’ll all drive the business forward together. One final quote for you: “Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.” Stan Smith, Champion tennis player