Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council
Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.
Small business owners can sometimes find it impossible to compete against massive corporations. Big businesses can typically leverage millions in advertising budgets and can outsupply and outpace small businesses at every turn.
However, small businesses shouldn't be so quick to throw in the towel. Some experiences that less expansive, more niche businesses can offer, large chains fail at doing because of the very things that drive their success. Below, 11 members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss some of the advantages that give small businesses the competitive edge over large corporate entities, and how those advantages can help shape their success.
Forbes Coaches Council members share what advantages small businesses have over their larger competition and how they can use them to their benefit.
1. Custom Approach
Small businesses can offer a more personalized and customized service. With large businesses, there is often a "one size fits all" mentality. Small businesses can use this to their advantage by taking the time to get to know the potential customer, evaluating their needs and developing a solution that is perfect for the customer. - Amy Modglin, Modglin Leadership Solutions
2. Emphasis On Disruptive Innovation
Your small business likely exists because larger companies are not serving customers effectively. Wherever possible, you should highlight and exploit every innovative aspect of your products or services. Emphasize those unique elements that set you apart from large corporations. Then, show them the path to innovate and disrupt their own industries by working with your firm. - Mark Nation, Nation Leadership
Big-name companies often need to focus on consistency, whether it is internal with staff or external to customers. Approval processes can take a lot of time in a large organization. Small businesses can be more flexible in how they reward or recognize staff and how they deal with customers. They can add the personal touch both internally and externally. - Kathy Lockwood, Blue Water Leadership Coaching
Small businesses can win through creativity. That is largely stifled at a big company. Think of the approval and response process—those things take time and are made to be generic. Think also about how the customer feels on the other end of it: like a number. A small company can react faster, build creative solutions and still stay inside their own lane. - Dominic Rubino, BizStratPlan
5. Level Of Care
Small businesses provide a level of care and involvement by name-brand people that most corporations aren't structured or can't afford to provide. The type of people who choose to start (or work in) a small business is often motivated by a deep love for their craft, which they continually invest in honing for your benefit. They invest in you as well as the business, because you are the business. - April Armstrong, AHA Insight
Business is all about people, and small businesses have the advantage of knowing each and every client really well. They have the ability to provide a one-on-one, personalized experience that clients really value. You also have the ability to be flexible and adapt to customers’ needs, including more easily bringing in new services and products, which could bring potential new revenue sources. - Andy Bailey, Petra Coach
7. Passion With Purpose
Passion with a purpose ignites possibilities. Successful small businesses have no shortage of passion. When they connect with a customer's passion, the energy accelerates desired outcomes into impact. The impact is the full realization of a promise made and kept and the foundation of a long-term relationship. - Cyndee Blockinger Lake, Blank Page
8. Active Listening
Unlike large companies, small businesses can differentiate themselves by providing a feedback loop that enables two-way communication. That two-way communication can publicly influence future product design and the scope of services. In addition to the obvious benefit of public interactions, this particular method paves the way for consumers to become stakeholders and advocates. - Kamyar Shah, World Consulting Group
9. Speed And Agility
Stop trying to be something you aren't. Be the company who can make decisions faster, deliver small batches of products without issue and customize to meet demand. You can be a trusted resource when your customer needs help or wants to feel special. Be the hero to your customer as the one who is able to respond in small ways when the big guys are too busy trying to cut through their red tape. - Erica McCurdy, McCurdy Solutions Group
10. One-On-One Magic
The advantage that smaller businesses have over larger companies is their ability to connect one-on-one with their clients. These connections are always deeper in nature than those from larger companies and it is something small businesses can thrive in. Having the right people communicating to clients gives your company a personal touch that large corporations simply cannot match. - Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience
11. Intangible, Unique Benefits
By focusing on the broader benefits offering, small business owners can compete with larger companies. Intangible benefits like access to senior leadership, flexible work schedules or relaxed dress code are often unique to smaller organizations, and candidates may be swayed by the opportunity to take advantage of these benefits in lieu of a higher salary from a larger organization. - Rick Gibbs, Insperity
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