What can Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and independent freelancers do to build their reputations, enhance their businesses, and strengthen their reach? With limited resources and finances, how can these entities carve a space for themselves in an increasingly crowded market with competitors possessing deeper pockets, greater resources and fuller teams?
To stand a chance of winning the hearts and minds of consumers, small businesses need to take advantage of their nimbleness, flexibility and agility to outwit and outmaneuver the bigger boys. Competing along the same dimensions will only result in a sorry ending.
Here are some ideas for start-ups and SMEs to consider:
1. Weave a compelling story about BOTH your business and yourself.
In a world flooded with ads, collaterals and spam on virtually any product and service that you can think of, people yearn for a human and personal touch. Often it isn’t just your product and services alone that will interest people, but what goes behind them. For small businesses, the entrepreneur is sometimes the product too.
2. Differentiate differentiate DIFFERENTIATE!
What works for large businesses become even more pertinent for resource poor start ups that do not have the scale to compete on volume or price. Choose a point of uniqueness or many points of originality that your customers value and focus on them.
3. Position yourself as a thought leader and a solution provider.
Achieve a reputation as a guru, wizard, or fix-it person on social networks and channels. This could be as simple as starting a Facebook fan page, establishing a Twitter account to posting regular photos or videos on photo or video sharing sites. Remember to communicate and help more than to sell!
4. Don’t be shy!
Be like the chilli padi which may be tinier than ordinary larger-sized chillies but a lot more fiery and spicy! As an entrepreneur, you need to exert an influence that belies your true size. Network profusely with the right people and be bold in accepting any opportunity to showcase your brilliance at seminars, conferences or workshops.
5. Behave like a big boy in the things that matter.
Being a small time business dooms you to forever remain in the space. See and learn how MNCs and large local firms present and market themselves and emulate their positive examples. While there are certain things that you should scrimp and save on, marketing collaterals, websites and other symbols of your corporate image should not be compromised on.
How else can small businesses punch above their weight?