Before I started my small business, I was caught up in the corporate world. Large corporations have money by the bucketful and a number of departments to help them implement policy, however they lack the speed and flexibility of small businesses that can turn on a dime. Working in a small business environment is much more appealing, to me and apparently to many others. Forbes reports that nearly half of all Americans work in 1 of the 28 million small businesses in this country. I want nothing more than to see a start-up or local business succeed. While small business owners face unique challenges, I believe they also have qualities and aspects that give them an edge. I see lots of people who feel like they’re in over their heads, but even in struggles, with the right strategy, they can come out on top. Whenever your small business seems to be leaning further to the red than the black, how can you change policy and better compete?
Respond to Customers Individually
Imagine if Apple, Starbucks or Wal-Mart took the time to write out a note by hand for each customer they had sold products to. For a corporation, a personalized touch would require a small army of workers, but for a small business it can be done with minimum effort. Small Business Trends recommends that an owner take a personalized path when interacting with any and all customers or clients to separate themselves from companies that tell their customers to dial 5 to speak with customer service. This not only improves reputations, but boosts the chance of positive word-of-mouth marketing.
As a small business owner, you may not be able to afford to hire attractive actors to hawk your product on national broadcasts. By using a marketing scheme to connect with customers on a far more personal level, however, you can ensure that your efforts are not forgotten along with the thousands of ads a person is exposed to daily. “Entrepreneur” recommends treating an ad campaign like a first date, exuding authenticity and letting the customer know the positive features of a product without exaggeration. Remember to be thorough, but not to say everything. Give the customer a bit of mystery.
Get the Best Talent — Temporarily
Only a few years ago, the company with the deepest pockets could attract the best workers. Today, however, a small business has a huge advantage to signing up promising employees when they want to add a single worker or an entire department. E-Lance reports that 1 in 4 Americans work in a freelance environment and work at a company no more than an average of 4 years. Appeal to potential hires by emphasizing flexibility instead of job security. You can listen to their job goals and underscore how working with your business can help them reach their dream job, or even open their own small business.
Secure Credit and Cash Flow
“Business Week” has reported that small businesses have faced the largest cash squeeze since the recession, facing longer billing times (jumping from an average of 24 days from 21) and more delinquent dollars. A company without buying power may be dead in the water, so securing a secure line of credit gives any small business owner more room to operate. There’s good news, however; businesses can capitalize on rewards programs available from their lines of credit. A company using American Express will be able to cash in on airline miles to send an owner to a business expo, conference or trade summit in order to connect with new customers and markets.
Noelle is a writer, blogger and an online content marketing expert. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in business.
Image credit: CC by garryknight