There is an alluring element to operating a small business; it fosters an intimate relationship between industry, customers, and devotion to its offer.
Staying small keeps the business agile and free from the convoluted bureaucracy found in the corporate setting.
This small size lets your business run smoothly for some time… until you’re expected to grow.
Turn the tables and role play the position of a major company ready to strike a deal: are you going to choose a small business that comes across as amateur? Of course not.
Even if your small business can handle demands of a service or meet quotas with quality products, you still won’t always have a shot at bigger contracts that lead to massive growth. This is due to fear of working with the unproven – a perception, really – because of their size.
What’s a small business to do?
Shift the perception by appearing larger, reaching a global audience, and offering support comparable to multi-national corporations. A business appearing larger than what it is creates a higher perceived value of the brand. The value is the result of consumer confidence and trust.
It’s this: people want to buy from businesses that are well-known.
They tell you to “fake it ‘til you make it” and that’s what most businesses are doing. Behind a lot of doors are small operations appearing large, and that’s okay, because with the right tools they’re ready to scale and grow when they’ve reached the right amount of marketplace traction.
There are a variety of tools to put in place to aid in this traction, including:
- A global payment processing gateway which accepts payments from any country through automatic currency conversions, supported languages, and payment types.
- A social media presence operated by both in-house rock stars using tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, and freelance teams spread in different countries and time zones to prevent downtime and remove language barriers.
- A relationship with 3PL global logistics providers like DHL, DB Schenker, or Kuehne + Nagel to transport goods across the globe or expanding your reach through smaller scale growth strategies using warehousing and fulfillment services.
- A strong support team using customer relationship management tools such as Salesforce to acquire leads, generate sales, and foster long-term customer relationships.
Other tools to appear larger include a robust website, analytics & reporting, and a good command of traditional and online advertising platforms. Of these, develop the site, sales funnel & processing, and customer service first. Then work on the smaller details.
This process of appearing larger isn’t meant to be a form of trickery.
Appearing larger gives your business a shot at operating with other, larger competitors. It lets it get noticed when others never paid attention. Suddenly, your business is included in the discussion.
This creates an interesting combo:
- New opportunities arise to do bigger and better deals/sales
- The business retains benefits of being small (despite acting large)
It’s the perfect middle ground in business that so many attempt to achieve and fail, or finally reach it and push past until the spark fizzles out.
With an investment comes the demand to grow, grow, grow. For many companies, that means adding various revenue channels and losing focus on what made customers flock to you in the first place. Creating a sustainable business is as much about keeping your core customers happy as it is about growing in new verticals.
– Benish Shah (from Keeping Your Business Small).
Stick to this middle ground.
Your business can appear to be larger while using the tools mentioned in the article. With this perception and use of tools does come the opportunity to grow and garner profitable deals & marketplace dominance. Yet, it lets you stay small & agile while you’re learning.
What is your business using to create a perceived, higher value and image?