Big Ideas For Small Business – Leave the Small Thinking Behind

Running a small business doesn’t mean that you have to think “small”. There are some simple ways that you can emulate the way the big corporate guys operate, think “big” and really make a difference to the success of your business. Try adding one of these 7 “big company” ideas into your strategy and start reaping the results!

1 – Big companies have a standardised approach to sales and service. Make sure you’ve put some thought into how your business executes the sales and service “process”. Regardless of who your customers deal with in your business, there should be consistency in the way they are treated, in the way your products or services are delivered and in the after sales follow up. Big businesses have learned the benefits of giving their customers a consistent, positive experience that will keep them coming back for more. Copying this kind of brand-building behaviour will benefit your business no matter how big or small it might be.

2 – Big companies spend time, resources and effort on product development. No matter what you’re selling, you should always be thinking in terms of how your business can add superior value for your customer, not just in terms of flogging a product. Always work to make your product or service extraordinary. If your product or service itself can’t be made more extraordinary, make the way you deliver it more extraordinary. Big or small, making your business stand out from the crowd will attract more loyal customers that are not easily lured away to competitors that offer the “same old, same old”.

3 – Big companies exploit the opportunities provided by eCommerce. Even if you are a sole trader, you can give your business global potential by using the internet and simple eCommerce strategies. This is particularly true if you sell a product that is unique and can’t be found on every street corner. It’s also a great way to scale your business if you offer a service that doesn’t require your personal presence to deliver. Develop a reputation for delivering exceptional value and customers service through eCommerce channels and the new business will literally beat a path to your virtual door. In the short time that I have had my business online, I have gotten business enquiries from New Jersey, California, Indonesia and the UK!

4 – Big companies spend time, resources and effort on staff training and development. In a competitive employment market where it’s tough to find and retain enthusiastic, skilled workers, big business has figured out that training and development of staff is crucial. Unfortunately, many small businesses give very little thought to their human resources. Hiring is done on an almost ad hoc basis and training and development is limited to “on the job” opportunities (also known as the “chuck ‘em in the deep end and see if they can swim method). Make sure you know who your business needs to employ, what skills they need to have and have a clear policy of training and developing your staff along a defined career path. If your employees can’t see where their future lies with your company, they won’t stick around for long. Putting in the effort with training and development can be a key factor in the continued growth and success of your business.

5 – Big companies spend time, resources and effort on brand development. Branding is not just for major corporations! This is a common misconception among small business owners. Branding is about clear, concise communication of your business values. Brand is a simple, consistent message that tells your specific audience who you are and what you’re about. It’s not a mission statement or a company vision statement, but it is about what you do and why you do it. Everything you communicate to your customers and prospects should be consistent with your brand and what I like to call your “school of thought”. Even if you aren’t consciously working on developing your brand, you’re doing it. Now is the time to start strategically and thoughtfully considering what your brand says about your business.

6 – Big companies analyse their customers and track their customers’ satisfaction. The big guys know the importance of knowing their clients. They spend big bucks figuring out who they are, where they’re at and what they want. Part of any business marketing strategy is figuring out who your target market is. If your answer to the question “Who is your target market?” is “Everybody”, then you don’t have a target market. If everything is a target, where do you aim? Start by doing your homework. Even if you don’t have the budget for market analysis, you can find useful information on your own for free that will help you pinpoint who you should be addressing with your marketing messages and the best places to find them. Equipped with this basic knowledge, you can then do something else that will cost you very little, but will help you increase your sales dramatically – LISTEN to what your customer wants and GIVE IT TO THEM! As a small business, you will usually have an advantage over the big guys in terms of your ability to adapt your product or service offering to match exactly what your target customers want. There’s no better way to get satisfied customers that will turn into your raving fans than to find out precisely what they want and then delivering it!

7 – Big companies have a strategic focus on differentiating themselves from their competition. Most major corporations have other major corporations as competitors. It comes with the territory. When you attain a level of success that leads to becoming a recognised “corporate giant”, there’s usually at least one other mob that is going to try to copy you and steal some of your customers. Think Coke and Pepsi, Pizza Hut and Dominos or Ford and Holden. It seems illogical sometimes that the largest companies in the world still get any benefit out of advertising at all. But it’s all about differentiating themselves from the competition. The same strategy can work for you. Concentrating on what makes you different from your competitors and strategically delivering that message through as many channels as possible will cut through the clutter and speak to consumers. Remember, if you can’t articulate what makes your business different from the competition, you can’t expect your clients and prospects to be able to either.

Bottom line is, there are literally hundreds of things you could be doing as a small business owner that will make your company stand out from the competition and put you on the road to becoming one of the “big guys” in your industry. Thinking big is just another way of looking at things, but it is not the exclusive domain of international conglomerates.