Most people understand that running a small business is a completely different experience than running a major corporation. However, despite smaller budgets, smaller teams, and a different playing field, many of the business principles that form the operational foundation for large companies apply to small businesses as well. In fact, there are several concepts that will benefit even the smallest businesses.
Most small businesses have tight budgets, and focus on reducing expenses rather than finding new places to spend money. This often translates into the business owner and his or her team doing everything to keep the business running. While on the surface this saves money, when you consider the bigger picture, it can actually be a more expensive approach. When you and your team spend time focusing on minor tasks instead of strategic planning and more important work, it’s likely that you’re leaving money on the table.
Consider how much you are paying your staff on an hourly basis, including salary and benefits. Do you really want to spend that much to have them doing basic administrative tasks that take twice as long for them to do as it would a freelance professional? By outsourcing tasks to qualified professionals, something that larger companies do on a regular basis, you can save time and money while focusing on your real priorities.
2. Professional Branding
Major corporations invest millions in their branding, choosing everything from the colors, images, and style of their collateral to their key marketing messages with the utmost care and consideration. Nothing happens by accident — and everything is approached with an eye toward quality. Your small business may not be able to invest the same resources in branding, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on your branding materials. Invest in the best that you can afford from the start; a well-designed, attractive website and marketing collateral creates the image of an established and professional organization even if you’re a brand-new company.
3. Strategic Planning
Many small businesses ignore strategy, because they are too focused on determining exactly how they want to stay competitive in their marketplace. Some small businesses are just so focused on managing the day-to-day and staying afloat that they don’t necessarily take the time to determine their goals and measure their progress against specific benchmarks. Often this problem stems from a lack of resources — there simply isn’t time or staff available to devote to strategic planning — but the result is a lack of progress and lack of overall focus. Larger businesses devote considerable resources to strategic planning and measurement, something that small businesses that wish to grow need to do as well.
4. Managing Waste
Waste is a significant issue in businesses of all sizes. However, small businesses tend to have a more difficult time identifying waste because the people who are responsible for identifying waste are often the same people who developed and carry out the processes that lead to waste. By working with business solutions companies, larger corporations gain fresh, expert insight and opinion that allows them to identify opportunities for process improvement that they may have otherwise missed — or been reluctant to address.
5. Continuous Improvement and Change
Change is difficult. When your business is thriving, it can be easy to rest on your laurels and do everything you can to maintain that momentum and success. However, even the most successful major corporations engage in continuous improvement and seek opportunities to grow and change to reach new heights. That doesn’t mean your business needs to change for the sake of change, but when you’re making decisions based on sound reasoning that are in line with your strategic goals, even the scariest changes can be beneficial to your company.
The details and implementation may be different depending on the size of the company, but the ideas are the same. Small businesses need to be forward thinking, strategic, and willing to invest resources in key areas if they want to compete and increase their chances of eventually competing on a larger playing field — and even becoming a large business themselves.