Level Up! Big Competition is Good for Your Small Business

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Picture this: You’re buzzing with excitement because your service is picking up and your target audience is responding when suddenly you see a big, glossy ad for a similar product, plastered in prime locations, getting all the attention. You can’t compete with anything like that.

You’re not alone. For many small business owners, there is the ever-present threat that the time, money and effort put into their small business promotion and marketing will be nullified by a bigger company eclipsing what they’re trying to build. Entrepreneurs like you are working with limited financial resources compared to large firms, restricting their reach.  

I know how it feels because I’ve been there myself. In my first business, it seemed like every year there was another new cycling kit company launching in what was already a crowded market. These new players were all vying for a slice of the pie, while the established companies had already secured a concrete place as “leaders” in the sector.

As disheartening as it is, it’s temporary. The solution is to change your point of view, not to pack up and close your business. You set up your business to offer a solution, so as you insert yourself into the market you need to embrace competition and see there is always room to earn a portion of the market share.

Fear is an obstacle to growth. When you face competition from other small businesses and big companies you have the opportunity to recognise your unique niche and set yourself apart. 

No matter how crowded the scene gets, each company is still different. Your unique advantage as a small business is in how you respond to the needs of your locale.

With the right strategy to approach your competition you can stand out from the rest and compete against even the biggest brands, it’s just a matter of knowing and playing to your strengths. 

Should you embrace your competition?

The fact is there will always be someone with deeper pockets than you, no matter how big you are. Instead of looking over your shoulder at what everyone else is doing, wishing things were different, concentrate on what is within your control and important to your business.

That means having an awareness of other companies in your industry, but not a fear of them. When you have a growth mindset you can rise to the challenge competition brings. Your competitors can help motivate you to identify what’s killing your productivity, make the necessary changes in your practices and rise to the next level.

Being another player in the market is part of running a business. Having a positive attitude towards your competitors can make the difference between lagging behind them and firmly standing apart from them.

Starting out, this can feel intimidating, but when you stand by what your solution offers you carve out your niche. Stay focused on what you can make direct changes to, like your offering, your level of service as well as the results you can help people achieve.

Can you compete with big businesses?

Entering a crowded market can feel like you are facing a threat, but you don’t need to be afraid of your competition. 

Competition is a good thing. No matter how big you think the fish in your pond are, there is plenty to go around for everyone. Customers support the businesses which speak to the challenges they face and respond to their needs, so you can count on someone within your target market to have a connection to what you have to offer. 

Here’s the one thing you can control–your perspective. The way you view your market affects how you’re going to approach your business strategy. If you have a scarcity mindset, you can become paralysed and afraid to take action. Now is the time to conquer your fears and take action for your business.

Fear can seem like a reasonable friend, wisely cautioning you away from terrible harm, but it’s a lie, one that can be hard to break free from. Being brave enough to take action on changes and open yourself to a bit of risk is how you will successfully scale your business. It’s also the fastest way to achieve personal and business knowledge and skill that will strengthen your resilience, ability and leadership. The more you flex these muscles the more often rising to the challenge will feel like a habit, rather than a chore. 

What’s your edge as a small business?

Being a small business is not necessarily a bad thing. You’re dynamic as a small business owner because you make your plans happen when you want them to. Huge corporations have more resources at their disposal, but they also spend more time on every action thanks to the multiple layers of approval they go through. Think about a big ship turning the rudder and changing course very slowly, while a small sailboat can twist on the waves and go roaring off in a new direction with ease.

Your main edge as a small business is being agile to changes and the ability to make adjustments without tonnes of bureaucratic measures. When opportunities come, big corporations tend to let them pass because their processes take too much time. Small firms like yours get to strike while the iron is hot, and make the most of your potential to grow.

When you are thoughtful about how you approach these opportunities you can invest your energy and resources in the ones that are more likely to pay off, rather than chasing every small chance that comes along.

At the end of the day, your business thrives because you know what your customers need and are able to match this with a specific solution, meeting your customers’ needs in your own unique way.

Six key ways to compete with big businesses

Competitors are a typical part of any industry, so you need to create a plan of how you are going to respond to a challenge. Your plan needs to take into account your business strengths and overarching values and purpose.  

Here are six key ways to compete with big businesses you can consider as you develop your strategy:

  1. Innovation

Remember that you are in business because you believe in your idea and need to pursue it. You didn’t get to this point overnight, breaking into the market took confidence and determination. 

Remembering the innovation that started it all helps you stand by your idea and bring it to life. Your customers believe in your product, you need to have faith in your capability to continue to create and innovate in a way that anticipates and meets your customers’ needs. 

  1. Own your niche

It isn’t realistic to serve everyone all the time. No matter how much work you put in you’ll forever be addressing a massive general market, diluting the message and outcomes to meet their vague needs and spreading yourself too thin. 

As a small business owner your goal is to provide for the smaller groups that are largely ignored or left aside by big businesses. Since a small group has very specific needs, it’s easier to identify these and capture the attention of this unique group. 

Once you ensure your niche is satisfied with your service offering you will earn their trust and loyalty and will eventually be able to expand to go head-to-head with larger businesses.

  1. Provide excellent customer service

Personalisation matters. People want attention from and connection to fellow humans, and excellent customer service incorporates exactly that. 

Big businesses lose customers due to unwieldy automation and a lack of assistance, but that doesn’t have to apply to small businesses. Once you make an individualised connection, customers are encouraged to keep doing business with you, even if it might cost them a little more. They know a real human will listen and help when they need support or assistance.

  1. Experiment with your marketing strategy

Your customers are bombarded with thousands of messages demanding their attention and money all day long- billboards, TV, radio, news, e-marketing, banner ads, it never stops. Everything from podcast ads to clips before videos begging people to take up a call to action: claim a coupon, read a blog or add a product to a shopping cart.

What happens is that people turn off and stop paying attention.

It’s crucial to isolate what drives your target customer’s behaviour so you can break through the white noise and show your true value. Look into the insight behind your customer’s actions and adjust your marketing strategy to be a better match for their way of thinking. 

  1. Master social media

A social media plan is a major part of your marketing strategy. One advantage of social media is that it can run itself instead of you doing the work of marketing your business online. 

Make a plan for long-term engagement instead of one-time virality. When your plan is designed for consistent connection your content plan develops as you grow and you can free up more time to form more complex strategies to reach your target audience.

  1. Plan for scaling your business

Your business is small now but you have to know how to think big. 

When you carve out a niche, you think about your specific crowd and the details that will win over your audience. Your business doesn’t end with these small market pockets, think about how you can grow and extend your reach into the other areas that are connected or interest you.

There is no room for doubt here. You need to believe in yourself as you plan to scale your business; if you don’t have faith in your ability, then your customers won’t either.

While competition can be intimidating, it can also be the motivational kick you need to force you out of your comfort zone and increase innovation. If you are feeling uncertain about how to proceed or can’t seem to find the mindset needed to embrace competition, get a qualified business coach to help you overcome your fear and discover a new perspective. A new point of view is everything you need to compete with the big players. 

Let’s work together to take your business to the next level.

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