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    27 Replies Latest reply on Apr 23, 2009 8:29 AM by sofearinozat

    How to make a small business look BIG?

    Techie Wayfarer
      I am an owner of a small tech company and frequently find myself up against much larger companies trying to win the business of a large corporation. How can I use my company's size as an asset vs. a liability?
        • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
          teacup Wayfarer

          Before owning my own business, I used to work the 9-5 corporate life and spent some time in the purchasing department. I think you can position your small size as an asset by telling them that they will be one of your most important customers vs. just another client if they select the large company. Every client likes to be #1. Also, make sure you're ready to address any financial stability questions - such as how profitable the company is, how much cash the company has, the burn rate, etc.
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
            LUCKIEST Guide
            Being a small business has many advantages. You are talking to a new client. You and the client
            can discuss the product / service one on one. You have the advantage of quick decisions.
            You can be more flexible than a bigger company.
            Hopefully you are able to deliver results more quickly.
            When you identify the customers demands, you have the flexibility of pricing the product / service right.
            Your overhead is less than a big company.
            You are building a relationship that will improve each and every time you deal with the client.
            And best of all small clients grow bigger and as they grow you grow.
            Good luck, LUCKIESTl
            • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
              DustinSteller Wayfarer
              The image your business portrays has a lot to do with it.

              Put yourself in your potential client's shoes. What does someone think/feel when they visit your website, read (look at) your printed materials, visit your location, etc? You should be portraying something that is appealing to your target market and impacting your audience, and at the same time striving to step ahead of the competition.

              Consistency. Quality. Vision. Relatable. Understandable. Approachable. These should be things that identify your business and your image.
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                Techie Wayfarer
                Thanks for everyone's help and feedback. This is all great advice and makes me very proud to be a small business owner!
                • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                  SEO-Expert Wayfarer

                  Many companies have a policy to have % of their vendors as small businesses, minority owned business etc. Let managers know that can you fill up their quota plus give them personalized service. I have noticed the best tool that we have is the quick decision. Throw a offer which they cannot refuse with time limit, it has worked for me many times. Big companies take a lot of time to offer discount or change the quote.

                   


                  Thanks,

                   

                  Bob

                  • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                    ministry101 Newbie

                    I think the first thing to do is evaluate the market see what is needed if your buisness is two small to compete then the best thing to do is join forces with a company that will give you the appearance and the backbone to compete. thats what i am doing.
                    • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                      jackphelps Newbie
                      Techie: I like your question better than I like your subject. I don't think there's necessarily a great way to accomplish the latter, but the question is right on: you can use your size as a competitive advantage. First, I hope you've got some really cool features your larger competitors lack; that you're solving problems they don't solve. Given that, you are way, way more adaptable, and you care far, far more. I'm just hitting the road with my first startup, although this is the second startup I've played a meaningful role at. At both ventures, I've found adapatability and caring to be really important and serious sources of competitive advantages. In both ventures, I've played the fact that I'm small, and all my customers are a large percentage of my revenues; they're business I've worked to keep. The large guys work to keep Fortune 500s, but not mid-sized companies. Mid-sized companies know they don't matter to large software vendors, so you should feel free to state this as fact and let them know they really matter to you. Then, back it up. Demonstrate your adaptability! I've repeatedly taken customer suggestions and improved my product to show them how much I care about them. This can scale, too: if you have two people telling you the same thing, build it immediately and get leverage out of the fact that you are being highly adaptable "for them". This is how you use your size as a competitive advantage.
                      • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                        DealMaker Newbie
                        Remind then they are talking to the head guy. CEO - you make all the decisions and can answer their questions immediately if not sooner. You can change policy or advertising instantly. You can assign teams that will best suit the client because you, the president, have spoken to and worked directly with the client. They will not likely get any of that with the big corporations. The president will never even know who they are. Most entrepenuers will want to help the start up. Just bend over backwards to get and keep all your clients. Deliver more than they expect and you will WOW them. Good luck!!!
                        • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                          2ShadesofGrey Newbie
                          I think you're question is more than just looking BIG. But being the visual guy that I am, in today's online world, its your Web site thats gonna make you look BIG. At least at first glance when someone finds you. Of course, finding you is another story but argueably the best thing you can do for yourself online.

                          Make sure your site looks professional. If you don't have your own domain, get it. If you have a site, how does it stack up against your competitors? When someone lands on your home page, can they immediately see what you do? Can they easily find what they are looking for? Once they dive into your site, can they get around or find their way back? Don't rely on your pov or anyone in your company. Ask someone to surf your site who doesn't know what you do. Ask a friend or relative who isn't Web savvy. That's one of the best tests. If someone who doesn't surf on a regular basis can navigate your site and know what you do, you're probably good to go.

                          Once thats completed, make sure you have call to actions on your site. A site is no good unless you're just educating them. Maybe you don't sell directly from your site, but depending on your business, you want them to contact you. Make sure they can, wherever they go through your site. Of course, if you're selling product, make sure they can order from any place that seems appropriate. Make sure they can see their cart. Make sure they can continue shopping once they add something to their cart. The experience has to be easy and pleasant, because there's always someone else out there with a better widget.

                          Hope that helps from the Web point of view. There's obviously a ton more to do on a site beyond user friendliness and searchability. But I'll leave that to the experts. ;)

                          Good luck.
                          • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                            jbedunah Newbie
                            You've received a LOT of GREAT advice in earlier posts. Wow! Great stuff.

                            I'm the owner of a marketing/advertising firm so I'll tell you what I'd tell my clients.

                            1) As a few other members have said in earlier replies, use your size as an advantage. There is a preconception that bigger means less personalized service and smaller means more personalized service. Capitalize on that.

                            ...however...

                            2) You shouldn't be directly competing against BIG companies in the first place. There was a book called, "Don't Compete! Tilt the field!" One of the better book titles of all time. What you want to do is think about an Industry and it's competitors as a whole and consider a strategy that captures that industries "refusing non-customers." Refusing non-customers are defined by the authors of "Blue Ocean Strategy" as 'people who either do not use or cannot afford to use the current market offerings because they find the offerings unacceptable or beyond their means."

                            You probably have expertise that could be repackaged and sold to "refusing non-customers" of an industry that you have never even considered.

                            To give you an example of this:

                            Most small business NEED quality marketing and advertising. So, why don't most small businesses have an advertising agency? One reason is because Advertising Agencies are chasing the companies with $500,000+ advertising budgets. Not able (or willing) to increase their ad budgets to $500,000+ most small businesses are "refusing non-customers" when it comes to Ad Agencies.

                            But, they NEED quality marketing and advertising. So, any company that was able to give agency quality results in a way that small businesses could afford would hit a grand slam for small businesses.

                            Which is exactly what my company has done. We created a way for small businesses to get agency quality direct mail out for well under $1 per prospect for marketing budgets as small as $1500 per month.

                            There's a LOT involved in discovering how you can position your company in this way but I'll guide you to the AMAZING book called "Blue Ocean Strategy." That book will give you the tools you need to see how you can create offerings that people really need WITHOUT having to compete against big companies or a ton of competitors. You can change the rules, the very environment of your competitive landscape so you market in a competitive vaccum.

                            As an Entrepreneur and Small Business Owner YOU are among the driving force of the American economy. Small businesses employ the majority of workers (MOST of the american families are dependent on YOU), you pay the majority of taxes and create the majority of GDP. There is no other group as important to the US economy. PLEASE keep on keeping on, in terms of economic importance the Small Business Owner is immensely important.

                            ~ Jason Bedunah ~
                            Owner, Enchant Marketing

                             

                              • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                david28078 Adventurer
                                I am a small SEO company and have got by very well for just over ten years by being open, honest and giving the best service.

                                I do very well by being totally upfront - I don't want to be big ;)

                                I think honesty and getting back to the clients asap is important as are lower prices and no nickel and diming.

                                It has kept me in business for years :)
                                • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                  crewology.com Wayfarer
                                  Nice Reply , I gotta check out that book sounds like a good read.
                                  The best to you
                                    • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                      intechspecial Ranger
                                      I wish I could say that I have the answer. I do not, and I believe the day that persons view my company as a medium business or corporate entity might be the day that I am in process to move into those shoes.

                                      For now I will stay small, and focus the needs of efforts outside of my present capabilities on partner companies.

                                       

                                      Good post!
                                      • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                        cardplanet Newbie
                                        All I can say is IMAGE IS EVERYTHING. We deal with businesses all day, every day and one thing that alot of small businesses have in common is that they don't realize that LOOKING BIG is not far out of reach. Your marketing materials (ie, business cards, brochures, sales sheets) have to look like you know what you're talking about and look like you spent time and money on them.

                                        Alot of bigger print services offer templates that you'll find every "Joe Small Business Owner" ordering. No kidding, I went into this local restaurant that allowed business patrons to put their cards in for others to hopefully pick up. WHY did I see 5 businesses with the same card design??? I don't know if it's the thought that spending a few dollars on getting a custom business card or marketing promotion made is going to break the budget, or if it's just that people are in such a rush to make money that they take the path of least resistance---which would be the dreaded do it yourself business card. Whether home printed on an inkjet or publicly available templates that you and millions of others in the world will have.

                                        Doing it yourself works when you're a graphic designer, but the honest truth is, if you're not--stay in your lane and let the professionals create eye-catching PROFESSIONAL designs that speak of your business. Never forget that YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS & YOUR BUSINESS IS YOU.

                                        That said, visit http://www.businesscardplanet.com for custom graphic design and lower printing prices than the cookie cutter shops. You will get Expensive Big Business Printing and Design for the small business man's price.

                                        5000 12pt 4x6--$99
                                        1000 14pt Business Cards: $25
                                        Full Color Banners $5.50 sq.ft.
                                        http://www.businesscardplanet.com
                                        877.797.8096
                                    • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                      digifut.com Newbie
                                      Like it is been said already, use your size as advantage, you can have a personal approach with your clients, and create a loyalty tie up, this is very important, you can become bigger with one or two loyal customers that will recommend you to all their friends, if you establish as one of your company's goal the loyalty and treat customers are equals you will have a HUGE advantage over the big dogs.
                                      • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                        websignia.net Wayfarer

                                        Ironically that was one of our first tag lines in 2003 :) "Making Small Business Look Big", I'm sure glad we've outgrown that.

                                        I would say what works for us and our clients are consistency in presentation, customer service, follow-up, professionalism, quality and flexibility.

                                        And in my opinion, you don't necessarily want to look "big" as much as you would want to look "capable".
                                        • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                          rowzlandson Newbie
                                          A lot of other people have given, in my opinion, spot-on answers...basically that you shouldn't be competing with huge corporations to begin with and that you should have that direct, approachable, niche-market sensibility that often propels small businesses to "big" business status. But I understand your question. As a small business owner and entrepreneur, I am constantly struggling not necessarily to look "big," but to act professional, to deliver like the big boys do, and it's tough. It's a 24/7 commitment, and there are very few tricks involved other than working your ass off.

                                          One thing I will say is this -- the place that small businesses often fumble is with customer service, since we don't have the man power to compete there. But customer service, and client relations, is "make or break", so you need to find solutions that work. Paying for a totally pro website, for example, may cost but it makes a big difference. Another way to think big is with virtual phone systems; I use a gotvmail plan for precisely the professional edge you might be needing. A small company like yours with its own 800 number, and call-routing, and multiple extensions (even if some go to cell-phones or team members' private home lines, hehe) makes a big difference, and it's not as costly as a receptionist (who could flub intros anyhow). And the other side of that coin is manning those phones, checking your voicemail constantly with email notification or whatever, and getting back to clients. I think that in a world where ten minutes on hold is the norm, customers may PREFER you to a big business.
                                          • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                            rowzlandson Newbie
                                            A lot of other people have given, in my opinion, spot-on answers...basically that you shouldn't be competing with huge corporations to begin with and that you should have that direct, approachable, niche-market sensibility that often propels small businesses to "big" business status. But I understand your question. As a small business owner and entrepreneur, I am constantly struggling not necessarily to look "big," but to act professional, to deliver like the big boys do, and it's tough. It's a 24/7 commitment, and there are very few tricks involved other than working your ass off.

                                            One thing I will say is this -- the place that small businesses often fumble is with customer service, since we don't have the man power to compete there. But customer service, and client relations, is "make or break", so you need to find solutions that work. Paying for a totally pro website, for example, may cost but it makes a big difference. Another way to think big is with virtual phone systems; I use a gotvmail plan for precisely the professional edge you might be needing. A small company like yours with its own 800 number, and call-routing, and multiple extensions (even if some go to cell-phones or team members' private home lines, hehe) makes a big difference, and it's not as costly as a receptionist (who could flub intros anyhow). And the other side of that coin is manning those phones, checking your voicemail constantly with email notification or whatever, and getting back to clients. I think that in a world where ten minutes on hold is the norm, customers may PREFER you to a big business.
                                            • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                              aallc01 Wayfarer
                                              On the procurement side,many companies have a small business program and/or a diversity program. Go to the procurement team to understand the policies.This will position you well against larger companies especially if your value proposition is better and/or on par with the larger competitor.
                                              Also,utilize any references you have or networks. People fear dealing with those they do not know. If you have a reference in the vertical market your company is in , that is a big plus. Contacts and networks open doors.
                                              Make sure you are dealing with the real decision maker. Don't fallfor someone who claims to have ownership.Ask how a decision will me made and what is the decision criteria. In most large companies, finaldecisions are blessed off at a very high level.
                                              Let me know if I can help!
                                              • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                                intechspecial Ranger
                                                All you have to do to make a small business look BIG, is do BIG things.
                                                • Re:
                                                  intechspecial Ranger
                                                  How to make a small business look BIG?

                                                      • DO BIG THINGS! ---
                                                  • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                                    iyazam Adventurer
                                                    Hi

                                                    I would like to recommend that you become extremely Googleable.

                                                    What does this mean?

                                                    This means that when someone types your name or your companies name in Google - you will 'own' those first few pages of Google.

                                                    It is very natural behavior for us today to 'Google' a new companies name when we hear it. Many times the results that Google will give us - will also give us some indication about this company.

                                                    How do you become Googleable?

                                                    By putting your self out there in Social media! ( the results show up in Google..)
                                                    Be active in forums, article directories and social networks.

                                                    My brand new Super Website Marketing Handbook is the complete guide on how to do it!
                                                    http://www.iyazam.com/our-book.html
                                                    • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                                      iyazam Adventurer
                                                      Hi

                                                      I would like to recommend that you become extremely Googleable.

                                                      What does this mean?

                                                      This means that when someone types your name or your companies name in Google - you will 'own' those first few pages of Google.

                                                      It is very natural behavior for us today to 'Google' a new companies name when we hear it. Many times the results that Google will give us - will also give us some indication about this company.

                                                      How do you become Googleable?

                                                      By putting your self out there in Social media! ( the results show up in Google..)
                                                      Be active in forums, article directories and social networks.

                                                      My brand new Super Website Marketing Handbook is the complete guide on how to do it!
                                                      http://www.iyazam.com/our-book.html
                                                      • Re: How to make a small business look BIG?
                                                        charles2 Newbie

                                                        Make as many promotion as possible.