5 Things Big Companies Can Learn From Small Businesses - Black Enterprise

5 Things Big Companies Can Learn From Small Businesses

JOIN ASSOCIATIONS. If you’re a female entrepreneur, look into local chapters of the National Association of Women Business Owners. If you are starting a plumbing company, check out the local chapter of a national plumbers association. You’d be surprised how many fields have associations. You can receive great product discounts, invitations to great conferences, and a network of peers. Entrepreneurship can be lonely, so cultivating a group of peers is important. And of course, there is the newly formed Young Entrepreneur Council (I’m a board member!).
Matchmaker and Innovative Entrepreneur, Paul Carrick Brunson (Courtesy of Subject)

3. Innovate and Take Advantage of Technology

There’s a reason they say necessity is the mother of invention. Cash-strapped small businesses must get creative to get the word out about their services, so their adoption of social and new media is required.  In the early days of social media, while some larger organizations sat on the sidelines small businesses began using social media to keep buyers informed, engage new audiences and give customer service a personal touch.

Entrepreneur Paul Carrick Brunson skirted traditional marketing techniques when building his boutique matchmaking agency,  One Degree From Me.  Instead, Paul developed a YouTube series—The Modern Day Matchmaker, which featured his candid advice on love and dating. The Modern Day Matchmaker video series gave Paul direct access to the hearts and minds of women looking for love, and helped Paul amass nearly 50,000 followers on Twitter, a column on Essence.com, a spot on Dr. Drew’s Life Changers, a book deal, and, premiering in August 2012, a TV show, Lovetown, on Oprah’s OWN Network.

4. Stay Lean

When most businesses are starting out, they keep overhead (office space leases, payroll fees, utilities, etc.) low. As companies grow, they sometimes outgrow this thrifty method of doing business in favor of prestigious office addresses and lengthy staff rosters. But small businesses who have been able to remain lean have been able to weather the dips in the economy more easily than weighty organizations that find themselves bogged down by staff and space costs.

Hiring contractors and allowing employees to work remotely has been a hallmark of consulting and other entrepreneurial ventures for years. In fact, the co-working movement has picked up in recent years as a cottage industry has cropped up to service workers who need a place to work with high speed internet access, relative space and quiet. Remaining in startup mode with low overhead is not only economical, but a smart business move for any size business.

5. Maintain a Deliberate Sense of Focus

The confused mind doesn’t buy, so in the long run, the focused small business can develop stronger brand positioning and increased market share by doing one thing really well. Larger businesses that fall into the trap of adding more and more – more products, more services, more options –  could stand to focus on doing one thing really well. Because in the end, most customers would much rather have a more streamlined buying process. Since small businesses can’t afford to develop multiple products or services, they must focus on making one or two products or services exceptional. And one or two exceptional products or services means more satisfied customers, more repeat business, and more revenue – which is what every business really wants.