Thrive in your lane: How small businesses win with agility
By on March 20, 2018
Filed under Microsoft in Business
|Focus on: Empower Employees, Optimize Operations
Keeping up with the big guys is no easy task. Large corporations present a vast network of specialists, experts, and analysts with big audiences and bigger budgets. While you’re sorting through receipts and purchase orders, they’re running an entire accounting team through every tax form and expense report; while you’re personally covering a shift, they’re flush with workers ready to jump in; while you’re pinching every penny, they’re throwing money at new problems until they go away. Despite the looming shadow of competition, small businesses are still the keystone of the US economy. In 2017, small businesses employed 57.9 million Americans, accounted for 97.7% of United States trade exports, and made up 99.9% of American businesses.
Every day, entrepreneurs stake their futures on pursuing a dream. Amid a global digital transformation, how can small businesses not only keep pace with their sprawling enterprise competitors, but outperform them? Large organizations are built on complexity. They require oversight, hierarchy, and communication to succeed—processes that slow their ability to act and react to new challenges. This slow, trudging approach from large corporations gives today’s small businesses an opportunity to highlight one of their greatest advantages: simplicity.
On average, roughly seven executive decision makers are involved in the purchase of any B2B solution. That’s seven competing opinions and priorities that must come to an agreement before taking significant action. Cutting that total down by even one voice gives small businesses a significant advantage. While running a small business is anything but simple, dynamic decision-making gives these companies an opportunity to be more agile, connected, and engaged than their competition.
The streamlined decision-making structure of a small business helps ensure that change can happen quickly and that adoption can happen in real time. Needs can be identified and resolved with minimal red tape and organizational complexity, meaning that when opportunities arrive, change is actionable and effective.
The enterprise structure of executive office, middle management, and frontline workers distances daily decision makers from the customer. By their homegrown nature, small businesses can bypass that complexity to quickly make decisions and personally engage their customers. The family business owner often knows their suppliers, has a personal relationship with their regular customers, and is invested in their local community—a connection that most corporations can only dream about.
This ability to plug directly into the needs, interests, and opinions of their target market can empower small business owners to cater their goods, services, and philosophies around that demand. It’s a far more organic approach to customer engagement. A thriving small business meets a direct need for their community by providing a key service or feeding opportunities and capital back into the local economy.
Often, the difference between the capabilities of a small business and those of their corporate competitors resides in the tools at their disposal. For years, corporations have thrived in part by having the most innovative and dynamic technologies backing their products and services. Family businesses were left manually managing tasks like invoicing while enterprises invested in CRM solutions, communication platforms, and cloud technology to better shape their strategic decisions.
Fortunately, the rapid growth of innovation and accessibility throughout the tech industry have helped make those resources more accessible for enterprise-level organizations and small businesses alike. Those tools that once felt too distant, complicated, or expensive for small businesses are now available and ready to help take their operations to the next stage of success. The ease of use and adoption of these tools can equip growing organizations with next generation insights for building more personalized services, automating daily tasks, and streamlining expenses—without demanding a huge capital investment.
While there is certainly a level of familiarity and strategic development that comes with every new tech adoption, growing small businesses can find peace of mind in partnering with an experienced technology provider. For the past thirty years, our friends at PCM have specialized in helping businesses bring on new technologies to improve productivity and better engage their customers. Visit their latest blog, Cost where it counts: Smart tech investments for small businesses, for a look at the type of insights and expertise that make PCM an industry-leader in empowering today’s family business.
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