When it comes to competition, small-business owners have unique challenges in front of them. Often you’re up against larger companies with deeper pockets, or other SMBs that have developed their own expertise in your market. Here are five strategies for making sure your small business can stand up to the competition.
1) Control costs
If you’re losing money or barely breaking even, controlling costs can make the difference between being able to keep the doors open and having to close up shop entirely. Taking a detailed look at your company’s finances often reveals opportunities for small businesses to save money.
A cloud-based small business phone system can cut costs in several ways. There are lower up-front equipment costs, making a virtual PBX a great fit for companies on a budget. You can add extensions as needed—perfect for businesses that have seasonal fluctuations or are experiencing rapid growth. And because your system can be administered using a web browser or mobile app, there’s also no need to pay for specialized outside tech support to make tweaks to your communication system.
Cloud phone systems also offer additional features that can save money. With RingCentral Meetings, you can eliminate a separate conferencing vendor and cut down on travel costs, using full-featured video conferencing with screen sharing to reduce the need to send staff off site.
2) Create better customer experiences
For small businesses, competing on price can be a losing proposition. Instead, focus on giving your customers better experiences than your competitors. That can mean anything from offering later hours to creating special events. Even small investments in freebies like coffee or donuts can do a lot to increase traffic to your business. Keep in mind that the customer experience doesn’t end at your front door. Using Business SMS is a great way to keep up with important clients, or reach out to customers to encourage repeat visits to your business.
3) Plan ahead using data
Big businesses crunch data all the time; follow their lead and you’ll be able to more accurately predict your business needs before they happen. By looking at past sales numbers, you can anticipate busy periods, for example, and increase staffing and inventory appropriately.
Personalized offers are another great way to utilize data and plan ahead to help your business succeed. If you know the date of a customer’s birthday or anniversary, a well-timed message can bring them back to your business. Similarly, if you sell a product or service that customers need to replace, keeping track of their previous purchases pays off when you’re able to connect with them when they need to buy again.
4) Think local
Thinking locally can help your business stand out. Pay attention to events in your area and plan around them. Make sure that your business is prepared to take advantage of any additional foot traffic that events bring to your doorstep. Pay attention to schedules for local schools or universities, and any other community events that would be a natural fit for your business. Social media is a great place to tap into these events, and will also help you connected with local customers. A few well-timed updates to social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram can connect you with locals and drive sales with only a small investment of time.
5) Embrace your niche
When you’re small, you’ve got to prioritize. Rather than trying to do everything, figure out a niche for your small business. Once you’ve done that, focus on owning that niche. Instead of competing with larger companies with more money behind them, concentrate on becoming the best at what you do. When your business is booming you can think about expanding, whether that means creating new products or expanding your business into new areas.
Keeping your small business competitive is challenging. But rather than trying to beat the competition at their game, develop your own strengths and utilize your resources effectively. By concentrating on your own business rather than the competition, you can focus on the things that will truly make your business a success.
Originally published Jan 13, 2017, updated Aug 12, 2020