OK, so yesterday we were discussing how a small business can compete with large corporations like Wal-Mart or Amazon.
If you’re a small business or providing a service, then in reality Wal-Mart is the antithesis of what you should be doing. Think about it. Wal-Mart doesn’t stay in business by providing quality services or even by keeping the customer happy.
They stay in business solely by moving the most merchandise at the lowest possible price. If you’re a small business, you can’t afford to run like that. No matter what your niche, if you want to compete with the big chains, you need to be better than they are in order to justify the premium prices that you will need to charge to be comfortable.
Here is a hypothetical situation:
Let’s say you have an online store where you sell custom-roasted coffee beans. If you walk into your local Starbucks and ask where their coffee is grown, the barista there may or may not be able to tell you the answer. If you are a small online retailer, in order to compete with Starbucks you need to know more than they do.
You’d better be able to tell where your coffee was grown, how fresh it is, and ideally the name of the person who picked it. Okay, so maybe not quite that much. But you get the idea. You would also want to be able to recommend a quality coffee maker to help your buyer get the most from his or her premium beans.
Remember that if people are going to pay you premium prices, you have to provide premium services to justify their extra expense. Using Wal-Mart and Amazon as a classic examples of big competition brings me to my last tip for competing with the big boys.
Use your niche, target your audience.
The saying that you can buy anything on Amazon is pretty much true. From pots and pans, to TV’s, to coffins, it’s all for sale for a great price on one mammoth website. If you have even a prayer of competing and making a good living with your business, then you need to specialize and narrow your focus instead of widening it.
Think of it as the difference between a floodlight and a laser pointer.
Amazon is a floodlight, and you as a small business need to be a laser pointer. If you are selling a product don’t try to sell a little bit of everything. If you’re providing a service, don’t try to do a bit of everything either. If you’re really good at designing logos and business cards run with that. Since there are many designers online, you might even want to specialize further.
Hone your personal style, and know that you will be looking for clients whose style meshes well with yours. Find out what you are an expert at, figure out where that intersects with the needs of your potential clients, and focus the majority of your creative energy right there.
OK, so quick recap:
- Don’t treat your customers like a puppy mill… consider them more like gold.
- Build a relationship with your clients… make them feel valued.
- Use your niche… target your audience.
Pretty simple right? Do just these three things and I am certain you will see a marked difference in the success of your small business, whatever the niche. Do you have other tips you’d like to add to this list? Drop them in the comment box below, I love new ideas. And don’t forget to sign up for the BGB newsletter for more tips and tricks not found on this blog to the right. 😉 You can also sign up via RSS and be notified every time a new post is put up here.
Cori Padgett AKA k0zm0zs0ul