Help your small business thrive among the giants

Small businesses need not fear competing against established industry giants. With the right tactics in place, they can service customers in niche areas that bigger companies are unable to, and thrive.

Cape Town, 14 Aug 2018
Read time 3min 10sec

Small businesses don't have it easy in South Africa. According to The State of South African Small Business in 2017 report produced by Xero, some of the biggest challenges (ranked by percentage) small business owners have identified are economic volatility (67.9%), cash-flow (22.7%), keeping up with competition (22.5%), and slow Internet (19.2%). With South Africa's harsh economic climate and a vast array of large and established corporations in the field, it's no wonder that small businesses have a tough time thriving.

But, while difficult, it's not impossible, and the report finds that confidence among entrepreneurs remains higher than expected. Of the small business owners surveyed, 40% expected their companies to grow over the next year, with 45% expecting their business to stay as it currently is. Small business owners are confident that, although they might go through tough times, they will make it through.

Despite entering a tough market filled with big competition, small businesses can thrive. Currently, small businesses contribute between 52% and 61% towards South Africa's GDP, meaning the sector is an incredibly important part of the economy. Just as you should get to grips with the basics of small business insurance, so too should you get to grips with the basics of competing against industry giants, with the tactics below.

Find your niche

From your product or service, to your target market, focusing on specifics will help you gain more traction. According to Entrepreneur, small business owners will be able to compete in the market by starting as basic as possible, and expanding offerings and customers as the business grows. A good way to start this process is by speaking to existing customers, finding out what areas bigger companies aren't offering and what the customers would like to see on the market, and then selling that to a specifically targeted customer base.

Respond to customers personally

As a small business, you have the advantage of being able to directly interact with customers without the backlog big companies often experience. Whether you have a customer service team or not, you will have the time and personnel available to give customers quick responses based on their exact needs. Take this opportunity and ensure the team or person responsible for handling queries is trained to offer concise and speedy feedback based on customers' individual wants and needs.

Make your passion known

Once you've found your niche, don't be afraid to flaunt it to hold an advantage over bigger competitors. With a strong passion that remains in your customers' view, they'll be more likely to believe in your brand over bigger, less personalised brands.

According to Global CEO of advertising agency, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, Steve Martin: "Consumers are four times more likely to buy from a brand that supports something they love." If your passion translates well and consistently to the relevant audience, you will continue to stay competitive.

For small businesses to thrive among large competitors, these three tactics must be kept in mind. From finding your specific niche, and offering personalised feedback, to sharing your core passion and objectives with your customers, you can thrive and grow, even among the biggest competition. But, just as any business venture comes with the possibility of growth, so too does it come with risk. Ensure you have business insurance in place in the event you experience any form of damage or loss to your assets.

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TMI Janice Garman
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