The future of small business in one paragraph
"WHAT IF, instead of finding ways to be one step ahead of your competition, you could build and market your business to give people a reason to choose you? WHAT IF, you could stop trying to beat the competition, and become the competition?" Bernadette Jiwa
If you're an entrepreneur (as in startup), small or family-owned business and you can understand the brilliance of Ms. Jiwa's approach, you are also way ahead of most businesses. While I encourage you to read the book and "The Difference Map", for starters, let's just focus on that one sentence and what the transforming lesson it has for all of us: stop wasting energy and money trying to beat the competition, become the competition.
Don't get me wrong, we go through this process with our clients and while it is excruciatingly difficult, what is the end of the yellow-brick-road is a transformed business that is ready, no, not ready, a business that is kicking ass.
"But we are too small, we don't have the money...." Stop.
It is because you are too small and because you have limited resources that you can become the competition.
Competitors are not irrelevant, their role is more of a benchmark to levels of service excellence; they should never become an obsession.
Big companies don't change, and when they decide to, it'll take months and years; they'll be spending hours in conference rooms debating the strategy, more hours arguing over the color of the new logo, more hours assigning to-do lists and then? They'll go to work, or whatever it is they accomplish between other meetings, business travel and trade shows.
You can do this because you're small and because your life depends on it.
You can do this because you have a direct line to your customers, they'll talk to you, because you're small. They like you, they don't want to wait to press ? because "our menu options have recently changed."
Here's the thing: small business owners don't like to look in the mirror. It's a 'pride' thing, it's "I gotta to keep going and I can't afford to get upset" kind of thing.
But as Juan Pablo says, "Ees Okay."
You get over the ego and pride things and you try, with an open mind and the confidence in knowing that making this change - becoming the competition - means that you won't be worrying about new customers and instead you'll be exhausted trying to keep up with all the new orders.
Going through The Difference Map (Warning! You can't go through it alone) process requires that you break with tradition, stop believing that "same-old" will yield different results and most importantly recognize that even though "you made payroll every year since you opened", there's always room for improvement.
One of the toughest thing my old employers (all small and family-owned business owners) had to do was to admit that they either didn't know, or were wrong. But as time went by it became easier and easier, the pressure was off; just because you're the boss doesn't mean that you're also the smartest person in the room. Humble yourself, surround yourself with smarter people.
The future of small business depends on your ability to look inward instead of wasting time and money worrying about the competition, the economy or your friend's thriving business.
Find out what makes you great, make it even better and go share it with those who need your product or service. You see, the beauty of this process is that it allows you to stop worrying about the competition and in that process you eliminate the need of your customers to look elsewhere as well. Talk about a win-win.
But please remember: just because you adapted to 21st century marketing doesn't mean the competition isn't that fire behind. It doesn't change anything, don't worry about your competitors, focus instead on making sure that you deliver on your promise to provide an exceptional buying experience at a great value and that you will always stay in touch with your 'tribe' of customers. They will tell you what you're doing right, or wrong. Adjust, notch it up a bit and keep going.
It's not that simple but it works, all the time.