Small businesses are the heart of the Australian economy, but how do they compete with the big end of town? The big end of town is big businesses that have been successful for a reason and have learnt not only from peers, but also their mistakes. To rise amongst the over two million businesses operating across the nation it’s important that SMBs look to the successful end of town and learn a variety of practical philosophies from these larger enterprises, especially when looking at their relationships with their customers.
Below are my top six ways in which an SMB can learn from large enterprises.
1. Be unique
Something that is taken for granted by many SMBs is their ability to differentiate themselves from their competition and establish what makes them special. If you look at the biggest companies globally, the majority of the most successful are unique in some, if not all, of their business efforts. For many companies the differentiation of their business efforts can be narrowed down. Take Google for example, the strength of their brand is driven by their unique and recognisable branding. For SMBs to find what makes you unique and champion it. Use it in your sales pitches, highlight it on your website and nurture it in your office culture.
2. Be Convenient
Something that I like to remember is that convenience is often a driver for customers. Music streaming service Spotify is a perfect example of this. This global brand has created a service that is literally more convenient than stealing. A strategy such as this begs the question, how much convenience are you offering your customers? For SMBs it is important to make sure that your service is easily accessible to your customer base from wherever they are.
3. Plan to scale
One advantage that large businesses have is that they have more efficient economics of scale. For many smaller companies embracing new technology is a simple way to maximise their output and compete with bigger corporations. Embracing cloud allows businesses to scale easily. Modern cloud services mean that you are able to provide customer services models that make you look big, which nurtures customer trust and loyalty in the long run.
4. Focus on loyal customers
A crucial source of profit for any sized business is their loyal customer base. Investing in regular customers is incredibly important. It is through these channels businesses grow their word of mouth. This is a tried and tested business growth technique, with multinational corporations, such as Apple, continually reinvesting in their current customer base, by simply renewing their products. As a company Apple has never reinvented the wheel, however, instead of invested in their customers. This has resulted in the business promoting a feeling of exclusivity among their loyal users, a tactic that all businesses should try and emulate.
5. Embrace Big Data
Big data is one area that SMBs are falling behind. The term big data refers to the vast amount of customer information gathered from social networks, chat and email correspondences, browsing history and other online and offline sources. It is able to offer businesses unparalleled insights into consumer behaviours and preferences, making it easier than ever to improve sales and service. For SMB’s big data is incredible underutilised and can be used to help solve smaller problems initially. Most smart cloud services available to SMBs have big data capture processes in-built. Once businesses are used to the concept, it lets you quickly scale up to larger projects.
6. Have vision and act
For many SMB’s it’s easy to get caught up in the simple day-to-day tasks and not focus on the long term strategy of the business. The first step in effective business strategy is getting buy-in from internal groups. These internal groups may be only three or four people in your business, however it is still essential that they believe in your concept. This is imperative, as they are the ones who will be executing your plans. All big businesses dedicate vast amounts of time and money to mapping out their future and is something that many SMB’s often neglect. One of the major benefits of being a small business is that you are more agile than large enterprise, meaning that you can makes changes quickly if required. Use this to your advantage and continually look to secure early mover benefits.
Ultimately a small businesses’ success is determined by a number of factors, however being smart about your business activities and realising what is best use of your time and skills on a day to day basis is the best way to grow your company.
About the author:
Craig Neil is the CEO of IPscape. During his time as CEO, Craig has helped the once start-up to become one of the leading companies in its field in Australia. Craig is the former Executive Founder and Chairman of NSC group, which he established as a young entrepreneur in Sydney in 1989. Over 25 years, Craig grew NSC to become Australia’s largest locally owned systems integrator of large scale call centre solutions. The business was successfully sold to Telstra Corporation in late 2013.