Starting a business has never been easier, but competing with corporate megaliths is growing more difficult. However, owning a small company gives you numerous opportunities to stand out from larger competitors and start down the road to success. Here are a few of the best and most effective ways to set your business apart:
Provide personalized customer service
While massive companies have the advantage of widespread exposure and a large number of employees available around the clock, you can benefit from direct communication with your customers. According to Forbes’ Larry Myler, “around 75% of customers state that they consider customer service a true test of a company’s competence.” When you’re running a smaller operation, you are uniquely positioned to provide long-standing patrons with far more than an automated service hotline, and can convert first-timers into loyal customers.
Get involved in your community
If you’re hoping for people to invest their time and money in your business, it may be wise to invest in them as well. Consider sponsoring local events, donating to causes in the area and offering classes or services based on the product you sell. Consumers in the area will begin to associate your company with positive change and recognize you’re an organization that cares. Myler also suggests well-planned donations and sponsorships can keep you in the news as well as on the forefront of people’s minds.
Understand your market
Strategy+Business’ Isaac Krakovsky states a company that knows who it’s selling to can customize its marketing efforts for that demographic. While an enormous online retailer needs to cater to as broad an audience as possible, you can dial in on what your customers want, how they think, and the best way to communicate with them. As a result, you’ll build a personal connection, developing a higher sense of loyalty.
The single best way to separate yourself from other businesses — both big and small — is to realize nothing is set in stone. If you’re still developing your company, try to come up with a product or idea that nobody else out there is offering. Even when you’re running an established operation, never be afraid to shake things up internally, adopt more efficient management and delivery processes, look for ways to improve the customer experience, and embrace emerging technology.
Lighter Capital’s Rachael Pilcher also suggests keeping an eye on your competitors’ practices. She says, “startup businesses can get caught up in the excitement and pressure of their new venture and forget they have competition. Realistically – a lot of competition. This could be from other entrepreneurs building similar solutions, or from well-established companies that have a head start. Looking at what your competitors are doing well (and what they’re doing badly) can help you figure out new ideas for your own company and competitive differentiation.”a
There’s never a guarantee of success, but if you follow these tips, you’ll have a great chance to stand out in an incredibly crowded market.