You may feel that, when creating your startup, there is little chance that you can compete with the big businesses out there. But did you ever stop to think that, actually, as a small business you have several advantages over the big players?
While every new business owner wants to achieve the Big Vision – whether that’s creating a name as a freelancer, or being the next Facebook, or selling their business for millions – there are advantages to ‘thinking small’. This mindset can easily be kept as the company scales up, if your values are consistent throughout business growth. Take the experiences you can from the following advantages, and as your business grows, try to see how to continue using these strategies even on a larger scale.
Small Budget Doesn’t Mean Small Thinking
Having to be creative with your funds when running a startup can lead to better problem solving. Instead of throwing money at a problem, you’re more likely to find an innovative way to solve it in the long term. For example, if your brand isn’t getting out there as much as you’d like, instead of investing thousands of pounds in pay-per-click adverts, you might find a way to create one impactful blog post that gets shared around the world… for free.
Flat Management Structure
Big businesses have tiers of management – and this can often confuse things. Communications are watered down, or even stalled, as messages pass through each level.
Startups and small businesses have the advantage of a flat management structure: employees will feel more valued as they have direct input on campaigns. There is more of a ‘talk with us’ than a ‘do as we say’ attitude, often found in the global conglomerates with thousands of employees.
Greater Individual Accountability
In small teams, people know when their colleagues have side-stepped a task, or tried to fob it off on someone else. There is greater individual accountability – which means it’s more likely that things will get done, and employees will feel a greater sense of engagement and pride in their work.
Improved Staff Communication
Hand-in-hand with a flat management structure and individual accountability comes teamwork and staff communication. In a small business, people will often have to multi-task – especially in a startup where roles are always changing and evolving as the business finds its feet.
This creates an environment of open communication, which makes it easier to get everyone on-board with the latest product, service, or business change. Messaging doesn’t get filtered down tier by tier, and people don’t get to know things based on their perceived importance in the company. Everyone knows everything, because in a small business it’s easy to create open communication (and, just as importantly, open feedback).
Born Brand Ambassadors
A small business or startup environment really gets employee buy-in: you don’t have to teach hundreds of employees your brand values. Instead, your staff joined the company because of your brand values, mission, and vision. They naturally live it – and are better brand ambassadors as a result.
Instead of >investing thousands of pounds on training new staff about your company, they’re likely to ‘get it’ straight away. Startups and small businesses tend to attract a certain kind of talent: ambitious, ready for their own success to be part of a larger success (instead of working hard for the glory of others), and dynamic.
Adaptability, Proactivity, And Dynamic Working
A small business doesn’t have to spend months having decisions approved by upper management at every step. They can see a niche opportunity in a market, and adapt to create a product or service in a short space of time to cater for it.
This ability to adapt and react to current business and consumer trends is one of the biggest advantages for small startups. The hunger that accompanies people who are attracted to working in startups and small businesses is the perfect driver for motivating quick-to-market launches and creating a dynamic working environment.
If something isn’t working in the cultural environment of a startup, it can be changed – pretty much overnight, if you want it to. Larger and more established businesses take weeks, even months, to implement the smallest of changes – whether in the company culture, or to snap up a market opportunity.
Greater Professional Networking Support
As a startup, your professional network is incredibly important. It can help you find your first customers, secure long-term working relationships, and help you learn and grow in your new role as entrepreneur.
Networking meetings and events are a great way to meet other local business owners, and to establish rapport with them for future partnerships. Even those who may operate in completely unrelated fields to your business will have some useful advice to offer about their experiences – and in time, you’ll become the authority new businesses turn to. It’s a wonderful journey of mentee becoming mentor (and opening new business opportunities as a result).
Whether you’re networking at a business event or posting on your company’s social media accounts, there is something so personal about startups and small businesses that large organisations just can’t compete with.
Trust is incredibly important to people: if they don’t trust a brand, they won’t buy from it. Trust is built in many ways: being transparent and upfront, sharing your story, and engaging with customers (instead of talking AT them) are all ways to build a good reputation.
As a small business, you have the advantage of being the face of your company. A large organisation will have lots of different teams of people, but if you’re the one meeting your clients, there’s much more trust already implicit in this relationship. You’re not a faceless organisation, where customers always speak to a different person each time: you’re the business, and people can rely on you to deliver.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at the idea of your new startup competing with the big business, remember these advantages. Even if you scale up over time, ensuring you continue to have honest and open communications, hire driven talent who live the brand values, and create an open structure, you’ll be able to take advantage and ‘think small’ when you’re turning multi-million pound deals.