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Big Advantages for Small Businesses

Consumers' attraction to mom-and-pop shops is more than novelty.
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While many have fretted over what appears to be the total decimation of the mom-and-pop shops under the crushing expanse of megastores and omnipresent franchises, the good news is that the oppressive business goliaths might be prime for a leveling blow.

No matter the size of the business, the ultimate measure of success for all, big or small, still relies upon the consumer—and it seems that consumer sentiment is shifting. Owners of small businesses have sensed this shift as an opportunity to run circles around bloated big businesses, actively connecting with customers in meaningful (and profitable) ways that resonate with shoppers.

Discover some of the advantages the small-business owner has to deliver a memorable shopping experience while managing the business in a natural and nimble fashion.

1. The ability to think small and focus

How many times have you been in a large store that promises everything under one roof, yet you discover it seems to simply have a whole bunch of nothing?

The desire for a business to have something for everyone often incorporates a tradeoff of offering little bits of many things but not being able to significantly cater to the specific needs of a target audience. A small business, on the other hand, can focus on its chosen commodity or service, usually offering a wealth of welcome information along with its specialized product line.

Small businesses enjoy a more intimate relationship with their customers, getting to know what they like and don’t like

For the small business, this becomes the advantage of being able to honestly assure customers that what they want in a given commodity will be available without fruitless searching in the formerly heralded one-stop shops. When a business can focus on its market, it usually stands to deliver in ways a big store can’t.

2. The freedom to take calculated and contained risks

Small businesses enjoy this key—and crucial—differentiator from the big businesses: They have the ability to try new products, processes or services without necessarily putting the whole operation at risk. Thanks to their small size, small businesses enjoy a more intimate relationship with their customers, getting to know what it is the customers like and don’t like.

In effect, the small-business owner, thanks to this direct connection to customers, is able to more closely experience their business from the customer’s perspective. Therefore, when it appears a change is needed (or becomes opportunistic), that change can be rolled out in a contained way to determine if it truly suits the customers.

A big business, on the other hand, often can’t maintain such an intimate customer relationship, and is often less inclined to try new things that might prove costly to the business, from the cost of large-scale implementation, to the risk, to the brand itself.

3. The agility to change quickly

To some, the big business experience has become rather vanilla. From their offerings to their service levels, large businesses often require many layers between the company and its customers. This can translate into cookie-cutter displays, trite messaging and often forgettable experiences.

Small businesses, on the other hand, are able to maintain an engagement and excitement that is responsive to customer wants and needs. Sometimes this means trying out new products or services, offering adjustments to the actual transaction experience (be it online or brick-and-mortar), and even the ability for a restructuring of the business organization to better serve the customers. Because the business is small, it can implement such changes, often quicker and with more immediate benefit than their big-business brethren.

4. The freedom to let emotion guide their direction

Small businesses can dare to dabble and experiment with new ideas, and change course quickly if the idea isn’t quite working out

Consider the reason most folks start up a small business: personal passion. Some entrepreneurs are driven to solve a problem they’ve seen left unanswered in the marketplace. Others have a personal joy that they’ve found to be of interest to others and are compelled to share it (with the bonus of some profit for their passion). Whatever drives them, oftentimes small-business owners are simply guided by their internal emotions to take a risk, start a business and make it succeed.

Many do succeed, some others might not, but most were driven by that internal desire. When they couple that emotion with some objective market sense, there comes that proverbial potential to “do what you love.”

Big businesses are usually constrained to the stated goals and trends that the marketplace dictates, often leaving emotion out of the equation entirely. While that does make good business sense, of course, it sometimes leaves the leaders and employees less satisfied on the personal passion level. This is also the reason that some employees leave a large company and set off to start their own small businesses, their way. It is passion and emotion that drives them along their newfound path to personal fulfillment.

5. The motivation to establish their own niche

Finally, a key advantage for small businesses over big businesses is their natural ability to establish their own brand and style, rather than compete with existing big names. That is to say, a small business is expected to do and deliver something exciting, innovative and off the beaten path.

Big businesses and their well-known brands are often contained within their big persona, customers not expecting them to do much that’s drastic or daring (that might be bad for the brand, right?). And, if a big business does experiment by pursuing a new direction, failure in that endeavor can cause significant damage (and derision) of their valuable brand. The small business, however, can dare to dabble and, for reasons previously stated, experiment with new ideas and change course quickly if the idea isn’t quite working out.

Clearly, every business needs a sound foundation and a solid marketplace if it wants to succeed. Small businesses, however, enjoy advantages, thanks to their lean structure and nimble capabilities. If you’re looking to pursue your small business, for passion and profit, know that you have many advantages available to you. Take a chance, take the plunge and make your business just how you—and your customers—like it.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • nuncha

    yes until amazon sees what sells best for the small guy and then screws them over buy underselling them shame on the manuf that we helped put in business BTW who abandon us years later for the giant online pos amazon