Starting up a new business is a daunting prospect at the best of times but if your chosen sector is completely dominated by a few big brand players it can make your task appear even more difficult. Being a tiny fish in a huge competitive pond can be a frightening thing indeed.
When university student Mark Zuckerberg had an idea for a social networking site, few would have believed that Facebook could take on the likes of MySpace, let alone surpass its success. Yet MySpace has recently announced it is launching a Facebook ‘mashup’, and the once dominant site now looks to be latching on to the huge growth (and now dominance) of Zuckerberg’s Facebook, which is now a billion dollar enterprise.
This should serve as an inspiration for any new business. However, while ambition is a good quality for any start-up, that alone will not guarantee success. So what does a new business need to do in order to become a big player in its market?
1. Focus on your unique selling point
Find a niche in the market that will make your business stand out against its competitors. Consider why a customer would choose your business over a competitor’s, or what aspect of your largest competitor’s business could be improved upon, and focus your strategy on it.
2. Define Who You Are Targeting
This point is crucial to your business success. Who is your target customer? If you get this wrong you risk wasting a lot of time and money targeting the wrong people with your marketing efforts. The more narrow your niche, the easier it will be to give the relevant people reasons to deal with you.
3. Don’t undervalue your services
Don’t undersell yourself. Just because you’re a smaller business, it doesn’t mean the quality of service or expertise is any less important. MSM Software, who are leading UK Microsoft Sharepoint developers, are keen to stress this point. Thomas Coles of MSM says: “Ensure your team is fully aware of the value you provide so that you can sell your business in the best way possible.”
4. Think value over cost
Some smaller businesses might believe the most effective way to compete is by offering lower prices. However customers are savvy in the knowledge now that paying for a better product up front means long term savings. Remember, your price point sets a perception in the buyer’s mind more quickly than anything else.
5. Concentrate on Customer Service
Concentrating on providing a friendly customer service will set you apart from many of your competitors. The disadvantage for many people of using a big company is the lack of a personal touch. This is where smaller companies can exploit opportunities to build a strong reputation for themselves.
6. Value your team
Successful entrepreneurs know that their own hard work might get a business going, but pretty soon you have to rely on other people. Recruit the best people you can afford, and try to keep them happy and motivated. It’s better not to fill a vacancy than to get the wrong person who might hold your business back.
7. Be Flexible
Larger companies tend to be slower to react than smaller companies as there is often a long chain of command in larger organizations and your small business can use this to their advantage. By reacting to changing circumstances more quickly you can steal customers from your larger competitors by changing the business model to react to your customer’s changing needs.
8. Challenge the norm
Don’t be afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. Just because everyone does it in one way doesn’t mean that it is right. Think outside of the box to challenge your competitors and yourself. EasyJet is a great example: the company turned the airline industry on its head with its low-cost approach.
9. Simplify Your Website
Many lager companies have huge over-complicated websites which can be off putting for many potential customers. This is another opportunity for you to get one over your larger competitors by developing a website which is uncomplicated and easy to navigate. It will also provide your business with a great marketing and promotion tool.
10. Make good ideas happen
One of the main threads behind the book Eating the Big Fish is that challenger brands don’t have a monopoly on good ideas: what is unusual about them is that they make good ideas happen.