Business Advice – How to Compete with the Big Dogs

How service business owners can beat your competition

This scenario may sound familiar:  You’re one of the good guys. Your customers like and trust you. You offer quality products at reasonable prices. You’re a valued member of your community and active supporter of local charities. Life was good. Then you received the news that the dreaded BIG RETAILER is moving into the neighborhood. The prospect of dealing with this competition has you feeling nauseous and thinking of throwing in the towel. How can you compete with a big retailer when you’re a small business? What should you do?

Relax. You’re not licked yet.

Let’s face it. You always knew this day might come and at this point, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve prepared for it or not. What matters is what you do going forward. You need to be flexible, willing to embrace change and keep an open mind as to what your business might look like in the future.

We all know what big retailers add to the mix—cheaper prices, lots of choices and convenient parking. You might not believe it, but having the circus come to town isn’t a bad thing. Ideally, it means that all the vendors in town, including you, will get the opportunity to sell more balloons and cotton candy. When a big store joins the neighborhood, they’re stating that “This is a profitable business location, with plenty of potential customers, good traffic flow and opportunity for growth.” The perfect environment for any business regardless of size.

Before we get into how to make lemonade from lemons, we need to make sure all the ingredients are at hand. Your first task is to have a clear understanding of your business.

  • What are you actually selling and to whom?
  • Do your customers visit as much for the atmosphere or ambiance or your store as for the products you offer?
  • Do your customers value charm, quietude, or vintage décor?

Profile both your business and your customer base in detail. Next, consider the things you can do better than the big retailers.

As a small business:

  • Be Flexible! You can be more flexible, nimble, and energetic. You need to figure out how to leverage your agility.
  • Find Your Strength. Emphasize what makes you special, distinctive or unique. What is the one thing you can do better than anyone else?
  • Find Your Niche! You can’t be everything to everyone. That’s the realm of the big retailer. Instead, find your niche and focus on it.
  • Customize. Offer customization or specialty products, think obscure but valued. These are areas where the big guys falter.
  • Be better. Have a hook. Offer a handful of items that are cheaper, faster or more outstanding than what can be found elsewhere.
  • Spot trends. You can cash in on trends and fads faster than the big stores. They have complicated relationships with suppliers, a board of directors and investors to consider. Their large staffs, budgets, and customer base affect their ability to take risks and draws out the decision-making process. Whereas, small businesses have the agility to circumvent obstacles, change direction, make new plans and take advantage of opportunities without considering what will happen to huge inventories sitting in warehouses halfway around the world.
  • Excel at customer service. You can also outperform the big retailers in customer service. No need to wait for a manager’s decision, you are the manager. As an owner/operator, you deal directly with your customers, local charities, clubs, and peers. Make the most of one on one encounters and networking opportunities.
  • Enhance your customer relationships. Your customer base is the most important asset you have. Find ways to communicate with them and keep your products, specialties, and sales in front of them. This can mean flyers, direct mail, a website, phone texts, Facebook page, Twitter, email, newsletters, local newspaper ads, etc. And, be sure to track what works best for which products.
  • Get tech savvy. Today’s shoppers value convenience. Make sure you can deliver what your customers need, in-store, online, or by special delivery. And keep it simple.
  • Consider partnering with other small businesses to increase your buying power and diversify your inventory.

No one said it was going to be easy, but with a little creative thinking and lots of perseverance, “You got this, and we are here to help.”

Business Startup Advice: 4 Tips to Avoid Common Financial Mistakes

4 common financial mistakes business owners make

If you are a new entrepreneur, just starting your new venture, listen up. According to the Small Business Administration, about two-thirds of businesses with employees survive at least 2 years and about half survive at least 5 years. As one would expect, after the first few relatively volatile years, survival rates flatten out. A high percentage of entrepreneurs will experience failure within the first year of their business because they do not have enough cash.  (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business
Employment Dynamics.)

So what do you need to know to survive?

For starters it’s imperative that you grab a strong hold on your financial situation. When you have a tight grip on your finances, you will be able to avoid some of the most common financial mistakes that many entrepreneurs make. When you have proper knowledge of your finances, you will have an easier time getting your startup off the ground.

1.  Plan Ahead!

You want to make sure that you are able to plan ahead for any unforeseen disasters. We know that you cannot see into the future, but when you plan ahead, you will be prepared for anything. When you are prepared for emergencies, you will save yourself from frustrations and headaches in the future.

2.  Budget, Budget, Budget!

Aside from making plans, you need to make sure your budget is part of your financial plan’s foundation. Your budget will give you the ability to keep track of the amount of cash you have, your current expenses, and the revenue that you need to grow your company. Your budget will also give you the opportunity to meet all of your business goals. We encourage you to make updates to your budget on a regular basis.

3.  Finance 101: Brush Up On Your Skills

One of the skills you should have as an entrepreneur is financial literacy. You have to know your financial position in order to make the right decisions. Gain an understanding of your finances and find a way to organize your finances and your documents. Are you ready to make smart decisions so you can make waves in your industry?

4.  Choose a Trusted Financial Advisor

When you are the one running a startup, you will experience a variety of advantages and disadvantages. If you want to reduce your chances of financial hardships, we encourage you to reach out to a financial professional who can help you grow your business by offering relevant advice. The right financial advisor will even provide you with advice and information on business investments.

Contact us today for a free consultation on how to make sure you’re making the right decisions for your startup.

Business Advice: Keeping Your Eyes on the Competition

keeping an eye on your competition for business service owners

Keeping your eyes on the competition and what they can offer can help improve your own products and services. There are a few main types of competition to keep in mind.

Direct Competitors:

These businesses mimic your business model and target the same market. Convincing a customer to always choose your business can be tricky if the prices are similar. Thinking out of the box can help ensure you have recurring customers.

Online Competition:

Peruse the internet to see what your online competition offers. It can be helpful to take note of website design/layout, prices, and customer service. Making a call or sending an email as an inquiry from a potential customer can give you useful information, such as what they charge or names of suppliers/distributors.

Big Business Competitors:

One way to compete with massive marketing budgets and international resources is through a customer’s loyalty. It can be difficult to undercut Big Business pricing, so tune into your clients and ask them how you can improve. Building relationships with your customers can serve as an advantage over bigger companies that exchange a personal touch for profit.

Inertia Factors:

Keep in mind the volatility of the economy. Is your product or service niche something that people need during strict budget times? Is there another product that the customer would purchase instead of yours? It is also important to keep an open mind about future competition. The industry can turn at any moment, and competition can come up from the unlikeliest places.

A couple more tips:

In the end, even if your business strives to be the most innovative in the industry, it can help to keep an eye out for the other guys. Getting to know your major competition can help plan for your business’s success.

Finding networking events for your local industry chapter can be beneficial in finding referrals or general tips.

Taking a course through the Small Business Administration is another way to brush up your skills.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you growth your business.

 

Why You Need to Strategize Business Growth Planning

why you need to strategize business growth planning

When it comes to business growth planning strategy, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself. You want all the customers right now to maximize your profits and decimate the competition. However, that is simply a strategy for burnout by you and your team. Companies that have grown too big too fast have always had problems along the way. It is important to strategize business growth planning and plan your growth so it can be done efficiently; without hiccups.

Where to Start Your Business Growth Planning Strategy:

Who is your ideal customer?

Believe it or not, not everyone is your ideal customer. If you try to take that approach, you may end up alienating your client base. So, think about who your ideal customer is. Who would be the most profitable and loyal to your company? Who would provide the best referrals to earn you more great customers? Those are the customers that you want. How can you make your company appealing to them?

Who is your competition and what are they doing?

Knowing what your competition is doing can tell you a couple things. First, what are they doing right? Figure that out, and try to emulate that. What are they doing wrong? This is a great opportunity to learn from their mistakes which will save you time and money.

Find out what customers want!

Learn their pain points. Ask what they are not receiving from the competition and do your best to provide that for them. Come up with a strategy that is very difficult for your competition to duplicate, so you keep your loyal patrons.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

For more information on business analysis, business planning, and ways to grow your business profitably, contact us today for a free consultation.

How to Grow your Business by Being a Local Expert

You know that advertising on the Internet and in the local media is one way to get the word out about your business. But you’re also concerned that it’s difficult for your marketing materials to stand out in a crowded field. If you want to distinguish your business in the local community, try becoming an expert in your field using the following strategies.

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Grow Your Business: Old-Fashioned Marketing without Technology

As a child of the Internet age, you may be under the impression that marketing requires online know-how to create advertising websites, YouTube videos, and Instagram campaigns. You forget that small businesses were marketing long before computers appeared. The strategies that worked in the past, work just as well today. Here are three of the easiest that take no technology and little to no money to help grow your business:

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4 Simple Ways to Grow Your Business Faster

When it comes to thinking about ways to grow your business, the exercise doesn’t need to be overly-complicated.  Keep in mind that growth techniques that work for ABC Company could flop if applied to XYZ Corporation. Getting a bigger share of the market could mean trying a few different methods for expansion. Start with these suggestions on how to grow your business.

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How to Grow Your Business by Giving

It is not uncommon to find small businesses at the forefront of local charitable endeavors.  From breast cancer awareness, to feeding the hungry, to assisting returning vets, the opportunities to give back to the community are countless. Supporting charitable efforts in the community not only provide assistance to those in need, they also give right back to your business by getting your name out there.

A recent study revealed that nearly nine of ten small business owners donate time and money, either personally or through their businesses, to local charitable organizations. It can be difficult for an up and coming small business, which is short on time and money, to give back to the community. Here are six ideas that can help a small business have a positive effect on the community, without major cash outlays or time constraints:

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How to Grow Your Business by Looking to the Past

Small and medium-size businesses use a number of marketing tactics to increase business. Advertising, a presence on the web, and earned media are all tactics that you can use to establish your brand and grow your business.

While these tactics are part of an effective overall marketing campaign, one key source of new business is left out. Previous clients can be a rich source of new business, if they are approached in the right way.

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Five Things Business Owners Should Know About How to Grow Your Business

Many entrepreneurs begin their businesses without a mentor or a business degree. They break into business with passion and determination, but like all business owners, eventually they run into a growth stumbling block. Do you know how to grow your business even when others can’t? Here are five things that every entrepreneur should know about growing a business.

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