4 Ways Your Small Business Can Run With the Big Dogs

7 Min Read

It’s easier than ever to start a business. Nearly 5.5 million new businesses were started in 2023 alone. This follows a growing post-pandemic trend that saw nearly a 50% increase in new businesses compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

The reasoning behind this explosion is easy to understand. Launching a business is more accessible than ever before, and the remote-first business world is accommodating to enterprises of all sizes.

Getting a business off the ground may be easier than ever. But beating the bigger competition has become more difficult. Surviving and thriving against bigger, more established companies is particularly challenging.

If you have a successful small business, here are several tools, tactics, and strategies to equip your company to run with the big dogs.

1. Use Tech to Consolidate Your Work

Technology is powerful. Workflow platforms have made it easier to track a team’s activity. Artificial intelligence has made it possible to generate text and automate workflows.

The problem with a small business trying to utilize the endless stream of tech solutions is that it can quickly become as big of a burden as any other business activity. An out-of-control tech stack can be expensive and overwhelming to manage.

To combat this tendency, make sure to be targeted in your tech choices. Look for all-in-one solutions that integrate multiple tech needs into a single platform. Thryv, for instance, is a do-it-all small business tool that combines communication, business operations, and marketing into a single piece of software. This allows the tool to become a central hub for tech-based activity.

Don’t just invest in tech. Look for the tools that streamline and simplify your professional digital experience.

2. Always Specialize in Something

Remember, thriving in a big business world with bigger competition doesn’t mean you have to do everything a big business would do. On the contrary, as a small business owner, you have the luxury of focusing on details that are normally out of reach for a larger organization to address.

Chances are you’re already exceptional at something. That’s why you started your business, right? Consider what that is. The answer isn’t always obvious.

For instance, Walmart may be a gigantic retailer that focuses on product variety and low prices. But in its earliest days, the company’s strength was its sophisticated logistical systems. This legendary supply chain made it possible for Walmart to compete from the get-go.

What is it that your company does particularly well? Make sure to lean on that strength and let it set you apart.

3. Target Your Marketing Dollars

Marketing may be accessible. However, like tech tools, it can also become complex and expensive if you don’t have a plan.

Fortunately, the uniquely flexible element of digital marketing makes it easy to adapt to a marketing campaign of any size and scope. For instance, Nerdwallet recommends a variety of ways small businesses can effectively compete in the marketplace.

If you can’t afford a marketing budget at all, invest in some organic social media community building. You can also create clean, helpful, authoritative content that answers customer questions on your company blog.

If you find that you do have some money to spend, use it wisely. Pay-per-click ads, for example, are effective, but they are expensive. When they’re used on their own, they lead to limited results, too. Instead, invest in low-cost initiatives, like partnering with influencers or building and maintaining a curated email list.

As a small business, you should always target your marketing dollars. Remember that access doesn’t equal success. You need to spend every dollar and even every ounce of effort and energy wisely.

4. Focus on Retention

Retention is a big deal in any business. Retaining an existing company is famously more effective than investing in attracting new business.

Forbes Business Council member Saravana Kumar points out that the cost of getting a new customer can be as much as five times that of keeping one. To put it another way, just a 5% bump in retention can lead to as much as 95% greater profitability.

Larger companies can often ignore this principle. While they want to retain customers, their sheer size makes it easier to assume that their target demographics will gravitate toward them.

Not so with smaller businesses. If you’re a small business trying to compete with bigger competition, make sure to fight not just to get but to keep your customers. You can do this through personalization, better customer service, superior products — you name it. Just remember to fight for that precious customer loyalty. It’ll pay off.

Acting Like a Big Fish in a Big Pond

The modern business landscape is enormous. Whereas small businesses used to operate in geographically limited areas, the internet has created a global business landscape that even the smallest operations can access.

If you find that your company is getting crowded out by bigger competition, don’t give up. Regroup and strategize.

Use the tips above to perfect your offerings, consolidate your workflows, target your marketing, and increase brand loyalty. If you can do that, you can play the part of David as you square off against your industry’s Goliaths.

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Becca Williams is a writer, editor, and small business owner. She writes a column for Smallbiztechnology.com and many more major media outlets.