Starting up a new business is a daunting prospect at the best of times but if your chosen sector is completely dominated by a few big brand players it can make your task appear even more difficult. Being a tiny fish in a huge competitive pond can be a frightening thing indeed. Yet when Mark Zuckerberg had the idea for Facebook, the social networking sphere was already dominated by big players such as MySpace. Few would have believed at that time that he could take them on and surpass their success but that is exactly what he did. MySpace recently announced that it is launching a Facebook type ‘mashup’, or in other words the once dominant social networking brand is now found itself trying to copy the relative newcomer.
This should serve as an inspiration for any new business. However, while ambition is a good quality for any start-up, that alone will not guarantee success. So what does a new business need to do in order to become a big player in its market?
1. Concentrate on Your Unique Selling Points
What is it that makes your company stand out from the crowd? Decide what it is that would make somebody choose you over a competitor and concentrate your marketing strategy on these qualities.
2. Define Who You Are Targeting
This point is crucial to your business success. Who is your target customer? If you get this wrong you risk wasting a lot of time and money targeting the wrong people with your marketing efforts. The more narrow your niche, the easier it will be to give the relevant people reasons to deal with you.
3. Don’t Sell Yourself Short
A new business should never undervalue the services it provides. Being small doesn’t mean the quality of service you will providing is inferior, in fact in many cases small businesses are able to offer a better service. It is also important to make sure your staff are totally aware of the value of the services you provide so that they are able to sell your services in the best possible way.
4. Don’t Try to Compete on Price
It is sometimes tempting for a new business to offer lower prices as a way to attract new business. This can be a big mistake. Many customers will be savvy enough to realise that paying a bit for your superior product will save them money in the long run. In addition the price of a product or service puts a perception in the potential customer’s mind and for many people cheap equates to inferior.
5. Concentrate on Customer Service
Concentrating on providing a friendly customer service will set you apart from many of your competitors. The disadvantage for many people of using a big company is the lack of a personal touch. This is where smaller companies can exploit opportunities to build a strong reputation for themselves.
6. Employ the Right People
Whilst the early days of a brand new business will involve a lot of your own hard work, there will come a point when you need to rely on other people. A good strategy in the early days is to employ the best staff that you can afford and try your best keep them motivated. Better staff will be better equipped to drive your new business forward.
7. Be Flexible
Larger companies tend to be slower to react than smaller companies as there is often a long chain of command in larger organizations and your small business can use this to their advantage. By reacting to changing circumstances more quickly you can steal customers from your larger competitors by changing the business model to react to your customer’s changing needs.
8. Go Against the Grain
Thinking outside the box and challenging the norm can get your business noticed and challenge your competitors as well as yourself. Just because most companies do something a certain way doesn’t mean it is the right way. A great example of this is Easyjet and their approach to airline ticket pricing which turned the entire industry on its head.
9. Simplify Your Website
Many lager companies have huge over-complicated websites which can be off putting for many potential customers. This is another opportunity for you to get one over your larger competitors by developing a website which is uncomplicated and easy to navigate. It will also provide your business with a great marketing and promotion tool.
10. Act on Good Ideas
The difference between big brands and smaller companies is that larger companies are often more able to make good ideas happen. Big companies do not have a monopoly on good ideas however. With a bit of hard work and persistence, you can make turn your ideas into a reality too.
Guest Author – Thomas Coles is managing director of MSM Software who are a leading UK software development company.