Every small business has competition. In the spirit of abundance – that there is enough for everyone – it’s usually a pretty friendly competition when it comes to small businesses in a general area.
HOWEVER, and that IS a big HOWEVER, when it comes to competing with the big box stores and companies, small business owners think they are at a distinct disadvantage. That doesn’t have to be the case. Here are three issues small business owners struggle with when comparing themselves to the powerhouses they think overshadow their enterprises:
- Don’t go there. As a small business owner you probably don’t have the price clout of the big stores. Don’t try to be the low-price leader. And don’t start offering a lot of discounts and sales. You can’t sustain a business when you battle with price. You will lose.
Instead, concentrate on value. Yes, a customer might be able to pick up a seemingly comparable product at a big box store, but if it breaks or they have questions, can they get the service from the big guys that you can provide? Probably not. Also, consider that some of the larger discount chains often have products made by brand companies that are only made for their market. There is a reason. Often those products are of a lower quality – and value – than the products you can provide. You can’t compare apples to apples when they have oranges. Make sure your customers know that.
- Keeping your customers. You have a very distinct opportunity when it comes to keeping your customers. The big companies send out lots of advertising – print, radio, television, direct mail. Your budget is probably much more constrained. But, I know that I can talk to Shirley at the bank, Joe at the dry cleaners and Jay and Matt, my IT guys. They are all small, local businesses. They know me by face and name. I see many of them at local Chamber meetings.
You can connect with, and nurture, your prospects and customers with regular nurture campaigns to keep in touch. You build relationships through email and social media (that doesn’t cost hardly anything) so that when they have a need that fits your business, they come to you. Can you see one of those big box stores or national chains doing that? No, I didn’t think so. Build your community and keep it engaged. It’s the relationship that matters most.
- Resources at your fingertips. As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you might lament the resources you have available to you and see yourself as having little, if any, clout. That’s not always true. Because, having been in the corporate world as well as the small business environment, I know that corporate often defines your resources. They will tell you what company and who you will work with in arenas like supplies, finance, services and the like. Even if you think you are trying to put a square peg into a round hole, you are stuck.
That’s not the case as an entrepreneur. You decide the resources you will use and work directly with the representative you want. You get to choose according to your own intuition and needs. You can choose to work with Kabbage when it’s time to expand your business and you need a small business loan or you can move from one CRM to another as you find a better fit. The world truly is your oyster – throw it on the griddle, swirl it around and fry that baby up.
Bigger is not always better – especially for YOUR customers. Give them what they need to understand that on a regular basis. Make them part of your business family. Help them understand that your business plays a role in the economics of your community. Show them that they get more – more value, more service, more connection – by doing business with you!
To Your Success!