As a small business, you have to approach things differently than larger companies in your field. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be a disadvantage. While big businesses have considerable resources to draw from for projects, they can also be the victim of an entrenched mindset that can prevent new and innovative thinking. Here are some ways that small businesses can succeed at winning an unfair game.
Be efficient. While other organizations may have millions of dollars to throw around, startups and small businesses don’t have that luxury. But a lack of money doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of results. The most successful small businesses are the ones that make the best use of the money they do have to achieve the greatest return on their dollar. That doesn’t necessarily mean slashing expenditures across the board; sometimes, it’s better to pay a bit more for a superior product. But smart entrepreneurs are able to recognize areas where there’s value to be had in undervalued assets.
Use metrics to your advantage. Bigger companies can afford to take success at face value, but small businesses should want to know where that success comes from. 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. Odds are you got into business to build your own unique company, with its own unique culture. You have your own vision of what it should be and where it should go, so don’t fall into the trap of trying to simply mimic what an already successful company does. 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 chances. Maybe not the kind of chances that will put your entire company at risk, but taking calculated risks can be a good thing for your business in the long run. 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. Plus, who wants to be entirely safe all the time? Provided you aren’t gambling your company, mortgage, and one or more of your children away, I say go ahead and be bold.
Don’t be afraid to make big changes. Despite your best efforts, sometimes the things you try don’t work out. Maybe it’s due to a lack of execution, or perhaps it really WAS a bad idea after all. It’s ok to make mistakes in business. Show me the company that has never made a mistake and I’ll show you a company that’s never tried anything different. But the even bigger mistake can be a stubborn insistence on sticking with something that’s not working out of pride or vanity. Be big enough to concede that you need to make changes, and have the fortitude to make that pivot.