Small businesses and startups today are tasked with making huge impacts on shoestring budgets in order to stay afloat. As big corporations continue to crowd out the playing field, smaller players need an edge in order to stay competitive.
No matter how many people your team has, the right planning can set you up for success. When battling companies with bigger budgets and greater access to resources, the key is using your business’s agility and dynamism to your advantage. Being small isn’t a setback — it’s a superpower.
If you’re a hungry entrepreneur with big things planned for your company, it’s time to start putting those plans into action. Here’s how you can do it:
1. Harness the power of content.
You might not be able to afford a multi-million dollar ad campaign or a glitzy TV spot, but thankfully you don’t need to. Content marketing continuously proves itself to be one of the best marketing tactics in terms of return on investment. Camera crews and art directors aren’t necessary — just someone with a passion for your business who can put pen to paper. Top-level content marketing, however, is more than just passionate writing.
Those wanting to get the most out of their content should invest in content planning templates that allow them to deploy a blueprint of what their content will look like months down the line. Carefully deploying each individual piece of content in order to form one larger message allows you to rival industry titans in terms of brand focus. Starting the content development process today doesn’t need to impact your budget at all — it’s essentially free to start a blog on an existing website — and yet it can set you years ahead in the marketing game.
2. Hire right.
The success of small teams ultimately comes down to the capabilities of the individual employees. No business is going to be able to make big moves if a significant portion of their team isn’t up to the task, and at many startups one person is enough to set the whole company back a few steps.
Hiring strategically isn’t just choosing the most skilled applicant — nearly anyone can do that. Startups need to take into account a future employee’s passion for your company’s mission and their likelihood to stick around in the long term. Losing a highly skilled employee can cost your company upwards of 200% of their annual salary, an expense most businesses simply can’t afford.
Large companies hire for skill, but small businesses should hire for passion. The right amount of training can bring a worker up to speed, so investing in an employee who is truly dedicated to the work your company does will help set you apart from the competition in no time.
3. Be open to collaboration.
No matter how great your startup is, it’s bound to have some limitations. Whereas giants like Google or Amazon can throw money at whatever industry they’d like, small players are forced to specialize in order to stay competitive.
While specialization is far from a bad thing, it does somewhat limit your capacity for expanding your operations into new territories. Collaborating with other businesses and platforms can help you cover up some of these soft spots and make big plays in the process. Teaming up with another small business for specific projects allows you a wider scope than you might have had otherwise.
Another popular option for collaboration is through accelerators. The percentage of companies using accelerators has grown from 2% to 44% over the last decade, and it’s easy to see why — they pose a simple opportunity for startups to grow certain aspects of their business. If there’s a big expansion you hope to make sometime in the future, an accelerator may help you get there.
4. Focus on disruption.
What is it that makes startups different? There are a number of different answers to this question, but one of the most defining is their capacity to change the landscape with minimal resources. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1 billion, it had just 13 employees on its payroll.
What allowed Instagram to be so successful with so little was that it wasn’t copying — it was disrupting. Its features were few and its scope limited, but that actually ended up being a huge advantage. If you’re hoping to achieve that same level of reach with your company, don’t get bogged down in unnecessary details and frivolous features; focus on what makes your product different and run with it.
There is no formula for small business success, but there are a few things that can help. By sticking to your guns and taking advantage of your size, you can make moves bigger than any of your competitors would expect — and stake your share of the market in the process.