Small businesses face a number of challenges as they try to grow. Being a small company means have to approach things differently than larger companies in your field. And while a lack of assets can be a hindrance, it can also offer flexibility. Bigger businesses may have the money and workforce, but they can also fall victim to an entrenched mindset that can prevent new and innovative thinking. Here are some ways that small businesses can succeed while the odds are stacked against them..
Efficiency is key. When you’re a small business, you don’t have the same amount of resources to expend as bigger competitors in your field. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get results. Successful small businesses are the ones that use their money wisely and get the most bang for their buck. They pick their spots when it comes to spending the money they do have; sometimes, it’s better to pay a bit more for a superior product. But the savviest entrepreneurs are the ones who can see where there’s value to be had and save their precious resources for where they’re most needed.
Use numbers to your advantage. As you’re trying to grow your business into something bigger, you need to be mindful of the data you’re collecting and what it can tell you. Who is your target audience? What type of advertising is most successful, and in which medium? What content is drawing the most engagement? Finding out what works and what doesn’t will let you know where you should be focusing your energy and resources. Looking at analytics may also provide you a glimpse into new markets that are underserved by your competition and give you a chance to tailor your products or services to suit those particular needs.
Don’t be afraid to do things differently. When you got into business, you wanted to build your own unique company, with its own unique culture. It’s your brainchild and you have strong ideas about what it should be and where it should go. But when you’re trying to be successful, it’s easy fall into the trap of trying to simply mimic what an already successful company does. You have to hold fast to your ideas about what you want your business to be. That’s not to say that you should eschew anything that another company does just to be iconoclastic. But you should stay true to what you believe in and your motivations for going into business. There are a number of paths to success — you should find the one that’s right for you.
Take well-considered chances. It’s usually prudent to be conservative in your business, and that conservatism can help keep things going. But there may come points at which you have to take a calculated risk in order to ensure the long-term viability of your company. Obviously this doesn’t mean doing something that can jeopardize the future well-being of yourself or your employees. But you may reach a point where what you’re doing isn’t working, and you have to pivot or risk going out of business. Doing something that’s entirely different can be a frightening prospect, but it is the companies that take those leaps that are thought of as innovative and daring. As Robert F. Kennedy once said, “We have to dare greatly to achieve greatly.”
Don’t be afraid to change. In line with the last point, there will be times when you have to make changes. Maybe it is in the direction or purpose of your company, or maybe it is with personnel who aren’t working out. It can be hard for even the best of us to admit to our mistakes, and even harder to venture into a previously uncharted future. Every business is going to face setbacks and challenges, and every entrepreneur is going to fall on their face sometimes. But the true failure is a stubborn insistence on sticking with something that isn’t working out of misplaced pride or vanity. Successful people in every walk of life are those who take their mistakes in stride and apply the lessons learned, and hopefully avoid repeating those mistakes. If you want to succeed in small business, you must be able to see when things need to change, and be big enough to make those changes.
Traklight’s free Business Risk Assessment helps small businesses and entrepreneurs identify their business risk and help them find the resources to address those risks. You can get started with your Business Risk Assessment here.