Gregory S. DuPont
Cultivating a “Small Business Edge”
Entrepreneurs may entertain thoughts of achieving success, inspired by those companies that seem to spring forth fully grown overnight. But, it is important for business owners to ask at the outset, “What is the best measure of success?” Because bigger is not always better. While observers may tend to measure a company’s success solely by its growth, progress and sustainable profitability are equally important, and are not always reflected in the number of employees or a company’s revenue.
Small companies that grow slowly may have an edge in sustaining growth over the long term. Therefore, keeping sight of the reasons why you started your own business is key to your company’s overall success. One example could be, you chose a small business environment for the opportunity to provide exceptional customer service and being creative in meeting those needs.
Here are some strategies to help your company cultivate its small business edge:
Differentiate the company. Carve out a niche with a clearly defined mission and target market. For instance, a company that defines itself as “a one-stop communications resource, specializing in small to mid-size companies” can remain small enough to offer personalized attention to clients, while allowing for enough growth to provide expertise across a broad range of communication needs.
Build on existing capabilities. Actively seek new ways to use current capabilities to attract and serve customers. For instance, you may want to create an online presence by developing a company website to reach and serve new and existing customers who spend more and more time on the Internet engaging with businesses through social media sites.
Experiment with new ideas. Make it a priority to cultivate creative approaches to meeting customers’ needs. For example, new services can be developed on a trial basis with one or two clients. If a problem develops, or there is little interest among customers, the service can be discontinued. Or, problems can be worked out on a small scale, and the new service can be modified accordingly.
Small companies often have the advantage over larger organizations because they know their customers on a first-name basis and have the ability to respond more quickly to their requests. Such personalized attention can build customer loyalty and often lead to referrals and new customers.
When successful small businesses attempt to expand too rapidly, they can fail. Slow, steady growth can help a company retain its uniqueness, responsiveness, and creativity. By cultivating a small business edge, you can find your niche in the marketplace, create the potential for growth, and build a solid foundation for sustainability.