Next week I’ll travel to the Middle East to meet with a large group of SME’s on the verge of unlocking their potential.
The entrepreneurial environment in many parts of the world is undergoing dramatic change. Even in cultures that are very government and big business centered, small business is seen as the future of both growth and stability.
So, while I will talk about marketing strategy and the growing impact of online behavior, I’ll start off sharing my view of the natural advantages of owning and growing a small business and it is my hope that the large enterprises in attendance understand the impact of this message as well.
Below are seven advantages I plan to implore them to exploit.
Narrow Focus – In order to survive, most small businesses must adopt a narrow market focus. In doing so, they can develop a premium reputation for serving a narrow market. When you develop a reputation for helping people with a specific need or particular demographic makeup, people who fit that need or group prefer to do business with you and expect to pay more for the privilege.
Experiential Depth – Many small businesses are able to deliver a vast amount of expert level experience to any size client. Think about that one for a bit. Who do you suppose might serve a client better – a 25-year veteran in the industry or a couple twenty something whiz kids from a big consulting firm?
Personal View – Small businesses grow by changing with the needs of ideal customers. Often, this evolution comes by creating products and services that address highly personalized requests. By collaborating with customers, SME’s can gain critical real world experiences that oftentimes turn into substantial opportunities even if by accident.
Agile Mindset – Small businesses can get new data from a market, or even a client or two, and dramatically change their business model to align with a new opportunity. This flexibility is the prime driver of innovation. Think about recent industry disruptions – almost all came from small businesses that exploited a big businesses’ inability or unwillingness to address an industry need. Method, Zipcar and Evernote come to mind.
Partner Muscle – Smart small businesses often create networks of strategic partners able to meet the needs of their clients with the best and brightest every time. When a large organization brings its comprehensive solution to the table they often make compromises at every turn leaning on internal resources rather than simply sourcing the best answer. A small business can assemble experiential depth in every aspect through smart partnering.
Technology Lever – The proper use of technology allows small businesses to put up big shop follow-up, service, measurement, accounting and prospecting without the overhead normally associated with departmental infrastructure. Technology has done more to enhance the natural advantages of small business than any other factor, but technology changes quickly and can actually cripple organizations dependent upon internal platforms. SME’s naturally look to outsource and leverage technology advances as a way to stay lightweight and outpace much larger organizations.
Leading Purpose – Small business is personal. Markets are hungry for businesses that allow them to connect to something beyond the products and services. Small businesses can deliver a story that has meaning. Can lead with purpose and intentionally attract both staff and customers drawn to an internal sense of purpose without the need to heed investors bent only on profit.
While this piece might come off to a small business owner or entrepreneur as simple validation of what they’ve already come to understand, it is meant equally to inform the very large business on how they must begin to think and act in today’s changing market.
Smart enterprises are adding “labs” in an effort to throw off big business convention and relearn how to take advantage of thinking and acting small again.