David and Goliath is a great story. But too often, when it comes to small business, the story doesn’t have the same triumphant ending. Over the years, we’ve seen indie bookstores go out of business thanks to online offerings. The small local grocers of our youth have closed up shop. It sometimes feels impossible to compete with the loss leaders of big stores. But there are small business advantages.
Small businesses (under 150 employees) have several advantages over their larger competition. They just need to know how to leverage those advantages.
Small Business Advantage #1: Social Media Is the Great Equalizer
Participation on social media costs small businesses the exact same amount as it does larger companies. Some platforms may roll out features to larger Fortune 100 businesses first, and they may have a better-known brand, but ultimately there’s the same cost of entry for all businesses.
You don’t need a huge marketing budget to build an audience on social media. Sure, ads help you get exposure. But you really just need to invest the time in building relationships. If you let people in and get to know you, those who feel a connection with you will do business with you.
Small Business Advantage #2: Agility
Small businesses can make decisions on behalf of their customers without large amounts of time consulting layers and layers of management. We saw this during COVID when small businesses found new ways to reach their audience and provided new offerings quickly.
Small businesses can respond to changes in the market with agility. They don’t need to worry about running things by corporate or sticking with something that isn’t working because it’s a directive. Small business can course correct and provide customers with what they want. The business just has to listen and know the needs of its ideal audience.
Small Business Advantage #3: Their Brand Is Their Own
In addition to making decisions on behalf of customers quickly and easily, a small business can rebrand much more rapidly in response to what its customers need and want. There aren’t decisions being made across the country on the location’s behalf. If they notice customers are receptive to something, they can rebrand or market to meet that need much quicker than going through a corporate marketing team.
Small Business Advantage #4: Personalized Customer Service
A small business can offer more personalized customer service because the employees are closer to the success of the company. They have more of a vested interest and a direct effect on what they do. Employees of large businesses are removed from the board and CEO. Their mission statement is something on the wall and not something they feel every day.
Most small businesses have relationships with their repeat customers. They may also have the longevity that makes them experts in their fields. In a large business, employees may be rotated to different departments based on labor needs and they may not ever see the end customer.
Small Business Advantage #5: Localized Niches
A large company may not bother with localized search and keywords. It’s easier to compete in those areas. Through content and review sites, you can build local brand recognition and authority. Small businesses can go deeper and more specific in content than larger companies can afford to scale. But there are pitfalls to be careful of. Check out this article about the common mistakes small businesses make in SEO.
A Final Word about Small Business Competition
As a small business owner, if a large box store moved into our area, you’re not going to compete with loss leaders and deals. Those businesses take a loss in the hopes that somewhere it will lead to a larger purchase. Don’t go down that slippery slope. Instead, compete in ways that you have the advantage. Get more personal on social media. Show off your expertise. Build know, like, and trust. Don’t take them on in a show of strength. Appeal to your customer’s emotions. That’s where your skills lie and it’s where your customers will reward you with loyalty.