The Competitive Advantage that a Small Business has to Big Box Brands
A small business or one still in its startup phase is limited from the buying power and footprint that a large corporation has established over the years. They’ve succeeded in making their presence known and becoming a mainstay in the marketplace while building a loyal base of customers. Rest assured, though, as the aspirations of being on the same scale of that big, bad behemoth that alters industry perceptions and challenges the status quo are within grasp in your quest for glory.
Agile = Profitable
A small business gets things done faster, more efficiently, with less red tape, and has the ability to adopt new technologies significantly faster than larger companies. Tools like ERPLY’s Retail ERP can get a company up and running, creating invoices, managing inventory, and fulfilling orders in no time. The logistics and operational minutia involved in running an e-commerce shop to a commercial store should not be underestimated. Moreover, taking advantage of employee recommendations, insights, and the many intangibles they bring to the table can prove to be a big help.
Smaller and thus agile groups have a number of competitive advantages that include:
- Greater resourcefulness which allows for lower costs; keeping books in order goes first-hand when computing margins and cash flow
- Having to prove their worth – it needs to be shown that a product is desired and enough people are willing to pay for it to stay in business, so hustle they must get off the ground
- More willing to open lines of communication: a small business in an effort to demonstrate relevancy will break down doors, strike up partnerships with whomever they can, and be willing to offer their services for free bringing greater exposure
- Less hierarchy, less ego
- Learning from mistakes more quickly whereas a big fish can have a formal review process, delegate blame, and be slower to adapt to the proper course of action
- Stronger camaraderie – a small team will get to know each other better, form a close bond, and gel a lot smoother in an office environment
Contrarily, what is witnessed on an enterprise-level as a company scales up, some can argue, is a loss in identity. They can lose touch with why they started the business in the first place; was it to improve another person’s life, stake a claim in an untapped niche, or create a legacy? Unless an operator’s central aim is to make money – which certainly is admirable but becomes increasingly difficult to sustain if that’s the only focus – keeping a purpose in check is vital. By their very nature, employees appreciate a work quality-of-life balance and feeling satisfaction in what they are devoting their lives to. If the owner or owners of a company cannot communicate their vision effectively, there will be less cohesiveness. A June 2014 Forbes article cited that the majority of Americans, 52%, are unhappy at work, referencing a survey conducted by the Conference Board, a sharp rise from the year prior which saw 48% and 43% in 2010, respectfully. These stats may be attributable to the recession, however, regardless of any outside influences, good economy or bad, a company’s culture is paramount to whether it will grow and shift the business landscape with it or flounder in the chasm of failed ventures.
Another deterrent that big chains have to deal with is an adherence to political correctness, which can sometimes get in the way of making sound business decisions because they are under the more watchful eye of the general public; a small shift in perception can mean a loss or gain in the millions. Overall, if a large retailer seeks to withstand the tides of an ever-changing economic and political climate, it must preserve its identity, the founder’s vision, and the reason it went into business in the first place. Profit is good as is competition, but when you lose meaning in your mission you not only cost your business, but humanity as a whole who misses out on your innovations, processes, tenacity, and spirit.