Politicians love to say it: small businesses are the backbone of the economy. More like the dirt between the toes, you may think, when you compare yourself with corporate giants out there. It is hard to compete! Don’t despair, even the bigwigs started small.
You Have no Past
You’re new on this, so you have no testimonials, no big clients to brag about, no history. That’s one thing that makes you different: you’re brand new. That makes you different, and people like different. What else? Location? What features do you have that competitors don’t? Small is good; it means you serve a specific clientele.
Media Ignores you
Your press release reached what? Five people? Good, that’s five more people that know about you. The road to fame is a bumpy one, and unless you have lots of money to spend on advertising, you’ll have to start by schmoozing the right people. Work with smaller and local publishers first and build popularity from the bottom up before you go after the heavy-hitter. Small publishers are not only less expensive but much more grateful too.
You’re Low on Capital
Get a loan. Before you start using high-interest credit cards, explore the options that your bank offers for local businesses. You may be pleasantly surprised.
You can’t Manage Efficiency Effectively
Ask yourself: What is the real cost of trying to do everything myself? Maybe you type faster and make fewer mistakes than your secretary, but your time can be more productive attending other matters. One reason why big corporations have a leg up on smaller rivals is that they benefit from “economies of scale” – that is, the cost for each product or service they deliver is lower. Don’t consider only the cost of services, but the time it saved in productivity. Yes, accepting electronic payments means paying transaction fees, but also no more trips to the bank, increased safety, and the ability to accept more customers. Don’t look at software as a cost, but as an investment.
Do you have a goal? A plan? Enthusiasm? Then you have the three most important assets. Even big companies with lots of assets and little debt can fail when they lack direction. Don’t let a restricted budget discourage you, if your heart is on it, you’re half way there. Think smart. Don’t spend money, invest money. Still, consider how long it will take before you see that money come back. Having a recognizable brand is important, but don’t spend a fortune on advertising if you won’t be able to cover next month’s payroll.
You can’t buy skill. But you can hire it. Invest in good staff with prior experience and maturity that can help gauge situations and be creative when most needed. Can’t afford them full-time? Use freelancers. Their hourly rate may seem expensive at first, but if you only need them for a short period, they may be cheaper than hiring the inexperienced.
You’re Smaller than you want to be
Have you heard this story? An entrepreneur with big dreams of expansion opens offices here and there thinking of replicating the success of his first office. The problem is that his first office isn’t a success just yet, so he’s doomed to replicate failure. Dream big, but plan small. It may be slow at the beginning, but unless you take the time to learn from your mistakes at this stage, by growing too fast, you will only replicate problems. Get the recipe right first, then start experimenting.
You’re Getting Negative
You’re not having the success you wanted. You keep comparing yourself with bigger, stronger competitors and you feel like a total loser. Step outside. Look at the sky. Is it really that bad? Revisit your dream. Why are you doing this? If it’s out of sheer greed, nothing goes right, and you’re losing, you better quit now and try something else. Maybe you’re not cut for business. If this is your passion, if this is the one reason you exist, then nothing can stop you. To succeed, you don’t have to be greater, quicker or higher than your competitors. You simply have to harvest differently. With that perspective, you’ll find a way to plan higher methods, work extra efficiently, and finally survive, regardless of the opposition.