Competing small enterprises can win

Become more responsive to customers when you are competing.

Competing to win against the big guys.

Perceptions can influence your beliefs along with those of your employees as well as your customers when competing with larger organisations. As an owner or manager, how you speak, how you carry yourself and your physical appearance can give outlasting impressions.  When you are competing, have you ever thought about how people perceive you and your business? Try asking yourself and others just how you are different.

Recognise that a more substantial business is not necessarily your competition. If your competition is more significant, they will have a lot of advantages which you won’t because of their size and experience in the marketplace. Don’t try to compete on those levels. You have a lot of potentials to be better and more influential in ways they can’t. You are likely much more agile and ready to make changes and adapt to trends and customer requests.

Your business can also connect better on a more personal level with customers, many of whom will be looking for a good relationship. Many now days just want to help the smaller businesses in their community. Use these differences to your advantage and compete as a different business.

You can give a better customer experience.

When competing, you have to offer superior customer service, and smaller businesses are usually better placed to do this. It can be accomplished by hiring and training the right employees, with the right personality styles to suit your target market and by paying meticulous attention to detail for everything the business does. By making your product or service special, distinctive, even unique, it will be a huge differentiator.

Try partnering with the larger company or become a subcontractor. Identify what you can bring to the relationship that increases the success of both entities. Competition with a large company can also be the impetus for creating strategic alliances with other small businesses to expand the range of products and services you can offer and compete for business as a team.

If you want customers to take you seriously, then you must treat them seriously. You can improve people’s perception and make a big impression in the marketplace, quicker and with more care. The significant competitive advantage of being small is agile and adaptive to the market and customer demands. Look for ways to improve your agility, maintaining the status quo is rarely the answer.

Local businesses always have an unfair advantage when competing against larger national organisations. You are there ‘Jonny on the spot’ and you not only have a better understanding of the local community, but you can also be more responsive to customer problems, frustrations want and needs. One of your most significant competitive advantages is having flexibility, the flexibility to respond to customers appropriately.

There are many ways of competing fairly.

Start with your website.

Your website gives most people their first impression of your business, so make sure it doesn’t look like it was built by amateurs last century. Upgrade it to a clean, professional and easy to navigate design. Compelling content will boost your SEO and position you as an expert in your industry. Your website can be a critical element when competing with larger and better-resourced companies.

Give your social media a facelift.

Active business pages on social media can increase your visibility exponentially. The conversational nature of social networking will also foster closer relationships with consumers, which no amount of conventional marketing can duplicate. Some professional advice in this area can make a massive difference to your outcomes.

Make full use of content marketing.

Every business has a unique story to tell, and people like stories. Particularly local stories. As a small enterprise, you have an advantage in that you can change your content in the blink of an eye. You can integrate your content with local customers and local events. Big competitors might have the right social media, but they don’t have the local knowledge.

What about your office and general facilities

Many customers don’t like the images some businesses present, as they see their hard-earned dollars being spent on luxurious surroundings, not on giving them better service. While most customers don’t like to see a mess, they do appreciate a comfortable and private place to do business. Ensure all your systems function well and are meeting the demands of employees and customers. Cleaning up your business premises could make you much more competitive,

Take a second look at your equipment

Is it modern, clean, tidy, in good repair and able to do the work efficiently? Having the latest new you-beaut motor vehicle often does little to enhance your image, mainly if your customer service is not up to speed, better to spend your money on modern information technology and communications, or other equipment to either improve customer service or your efficiency or both.

Behind the scenes ensure you backend works well.

Be as proud of your backend as your frontend. Many customers want to see the backend of your business before they will do business. They also like to poke around while they are waiting. Many companies have a flashy facade, but as the workshop in the picture, the backend is a mess. When competing in regional and remote areas, customers can be very forgiving if you don’t have the latest equipment.

Find and understand your competitive advantage.

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the significant competitor. Identify the potential customer’s problems, frustrations, wants and needs and figure out where you have a competitive advantage. Offering more personalised service, and your ability to customise a product or service to meet the customer’s requirements might be an excellent place to start.

Hire professionals.

Hiring professionals will go a long way toward helping your business in competing with the more significant players. Today, it’s impossible to know everything you need to know. They can help to ensure your products and services are well designed and customer-centric while helping you to solve problems faster and more effectively. Professionalism shows and people notice. Relying on your own understanding can prove fatal.

How’re your public relations.

Good media coverage creates credibility. You should foster good relationships with your local media, along with your industry media. There’s no need to engage an expensive Public Relations firm. Media people are always looking for good content and interesting news items which every business has. As a small business, you have many opportunities to differentiate and attract media interest.

Use a business email address.

Handing your business cards bearing a free webmail address (e.g. or is not going to instil confidence in your prospects. Registering an email domain name for your business is not only comfortable, but it’s also affordable. It also demonstrates that you take your business seriously.

Your voice sets the tone.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has called me, representing a business, and I’ve heard kids or TV in the background. It’s also easy to be turned off because of the tone of the voice. Record a professional-sounding message for when you’re not there or transfer calls to your mobile. Competing is about being liked by the people you do business with every day.

Don’t become arrogant about the situation.

As a new business, you’ll need to do something better, cheaper, faster, or amazingly different.  Easily outperform competitors with better customer experiences.  You will need to do this in such a way that won’t put you directly in the crosshairs of a big, more dominant competitor. You don’t want to get under their skin and create a vendetta against you.

Train and take out the strain.

Competing with the big guys can be more accessible in this area as training on the job is more manageable. Start with how staff answer the phone and how they display a professional manner in serving your customers. Customers like people who are reliable, practical, useful and helpful. Technical expertise is one thing: how your business treats people is quite another.

Outsource what you are not good at doing.

Your phone answering could be an excellent place to start. It’s challenging to keep up with the demands of modern business, despite the mobility of technology. Consider outsourcing your phone answering and greatly enhance your image, customer service as well as improve your productivity. Outsourcing is a great way to improve profit, growth and health.

Become a recognised expert in your field.

Speak at your local and industry conferences and events, mainly when attended by your customers and prospects. Share your knowledge. Become a thought leader in your field and publish. It is a robust marketing technique making competing for more comfortable. Small business is the engine room of an economy, and it is their people who bring forward useful and practical innovation.

Exude confidence.

You and your staff must always exude confidence when competing. Trust in the business and its products, which usually comes about by paying attention to detail and understanding the customer’s frustrations, problems, wants and needs. It is one area you can be competing and winning against big business. Smiles cost nothing.

Your customer base is your most valuable asset.

When a more significant business moves into your space, it is even more critical to understand your customers, know who they are and what they want and need from you. Whether a more substantial, louder presence has hit your market or not, in these busy times, it is essential to stay in touch with your customers. Keep them aware of what you are doing to serve them better and give them better experiences.

Always remember that small means agile, and that is a substantial competitive advantage, and the best entrepreneurs will still be able to compete. Be confident in yourself and your products and services. You’ve already proved that your business provides what the market wants and needs.

So, continually grow by setting goals and seek to have your target market see you on the list with your top competitors. Never get scared, we have to fight through and do the work involved in competing anyway.

Quotable quotes.

“I just always expect the best because I’m a competitor and if I’m competing, then obviously I’m trying to be better in everything”. Lil Wayne

“I think it doesn’t matter if you are the best surfer in the world. I’m going to try to be the best surfer I can be. It’s not all about competing and being the best. It’s more about having fun and just doing what you love”. Bethany Hamilton

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