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Small Businesses: Fighting the Competition
Joan Howey / September 23, 2015Do you ever feel like David fighting Goliath? My sister works for an office supply company. She often tells me stories of how she won a new contract over her competitor. I once asked her “Outside of pricing, why do you think a customer would choose you?” Her response, “They just love me”. Digging deeper in that answer, I found out that she was able to establish a relationship of trust and confidence in her and the company she worked for. You may be a small business offering the same products or services as your competitor. You have to stand out, in some way, in order to win that fight against your competition. How do you do that?
There are 4 key elements to help you with your success:
- Product – Whether you sell merchandise or services, your product needs to stand above the rest. Focus on what makes your product better/different than others. Market how your product is going to simplify your customer’s life or how you offer lower prices than your competitor. Find your niche.
- Processes – The second element to consider is that of processes. Determine and document what processes you have in place that helps you get product to market faster or reduces costs, or generates revenue or even improves customer service. Those processes are critical in helping you compete against your competitor.
- People – The ‘hottest next big thing’ product will fail if the people to manufacture or support it are not adequately prepared. The human aspect cannot be forgotten. Make sure your staff is trained properly on all your processes. If new staff members are to be recruited, take into consideration that this could be time-consuming and allow adequate time to hire and train.
- Partners – Partners are those specialist suppliers, usually external third-party suppliers, manufacturers and vendors – that provide part of your overall product. Ensuring the correct partners are chosen is essential, because failure by a partner may cause a delay in getting product to market. A failure by a partner may also cause you to incur unexpected costs. It may also cause you to lose a customer. Ensure that your partner is someone you can trust, have an open dialogue with, and that you have confidence that they will provide their services as agreed upon.