The world of business has gone global, which has led to Goliath corporations. However, if you are a small business owner, don't despair: The same advancements that gave the corporations their edge can give you an edge too, even in head-to-head competition. Here are some of the tools that small companies have that can help them win big.
Are you looking for a way to get your business name out there to people in your area? Social media could be your answer in three different, and important, ways: through prompt customer service, through determining the need that drives innovation, and through automation of tasks. Let's take a look at each of these:
- Customer service: While many small businesses have been slow to embrace social media, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter not only make an appearance on the newsfeeds of potential customers, but also allow you to have real-time interaction with them, which can be a key part of your outreach. If your customer has a concern, your company has a Facebook page where they can contact you. If a potential customer wants to know more about your products, they can contact you. If you want to get a message out to your customers about changing business hours, there's no need to develop, print, distribute, and pay for flyers. You have a page where you can do so instantly and affordably, and where you will likely reach even more people than through traditional methods.
- Determining need: Technology sources such as Google and Facebook are providing businesses with valuable information about what is trending, and what the needs of local shoppers are. This allows you to focus on the products and services that are important to consumers and make those products and services available in record time. Most social media platforms are now providing businesses with analytics tools that can assist them in knowing which posts spark the most interest and interaction. From sparks come fire, and the fire in this case is called innovation.
- Automation: Technological advances have provided businesses of all sizes ways to automate many tasks, such as bookkeeping, tracking customers, managing the supply of materials, and even timing your posts on social media. This empowers your small workforce to do big things because the little things are taken care of.
One distinct advantage that small businesses have over large corporations is the speed at which they can get things done. This is an important advantage to have, given the speed at which the customer expects to receive an item or a service and the many options customers have for obtaining the products they desire.
Larger corporations have more people who are part of the decision-making team. What this means is that, for every innovative idea, a group has to meet to determine the direction in which to take the idea. Then another group needs to decide how much the idea will cost and whether it fits into the company's long-term plans. Then another group has to decide where the money is going to come from.
With every step toward development, there are meetings that must take place, followed by more meetings to make sure every department is on the same page, followed by more meetings in which department heads explain what their team's role will be in development.
Wouldn't it be easier just to take the idea and run with it? With fewer departments and fewer people having a say in the matter, you can.
With technology and speed come innovation. And what innovation brings is the opportunity to win big. Each year, the publication Fast Company honors its list of the world's most innovative companies. Here is a look at three of those companies from the past two years' list of honorees.
- In 2019, the top two companies on the Most Innovative list hailed from Asia and included Grab. Grab is a Singapore-based ride-hailing company that, in 2018, forced transportation giant, Uber, out of the region and acquired its local operations. A few months later, the company expanded its app so that its 130 million users could have better access to travel booking, food delivery, and financial services. The intuition paid off big: netting the company more than $1 billion in revenue for the year and $3 billion in funding to expand. In 2019, the company planned to offer health services via digital technology from a Chinese healthcare company.
- At the top of Fast Company's 2020 list of innovative companies was Snap, the parent company of the social media platform Snapchat. Snap's original idea of private one-to-one communication on social media provided users with a personal experience that was conducive to letting go of the worries about who is going to see that post and how are they going to react to it. It was such a good idea, that Facebook's CEO offered to buy the company in 2013. The owner of Snap declined that offer and later saw Facebook take pages directly out of the company's playbook. As recently as just two years ago, it seemed that Snap was done for. Its ideas were no longer unique, but commonly used both on Facebook and its offshoot, Instagram. With tweaks to both the company's management team and its Android app, the owner managed to take the platform from the brink of death to a place in the sun by making it accessible to more users and providing new offerings, such as advertising programs for businesses and subscriber-only video services for users.
- Despite having more than 450 million internet users, India's population is not as dependent on e-commerce. That didn't stop the owner of Meesho from developing a social commerce platform and grabbing a spot on the 2020 Most Innovative list, however. The availability of the Meesho platform allowed more than 2 million people to become digital shopkeepers. It gave them the opportunity to open online stores with items for sale from a curation of more than 21,000 small and medium suppliers of clothing, jewelry, and home products. The users then have the opportunity to market their products through social media platforms, earning Meesho a commission on each sale.
If innovation is the key, how can you use it to unlock the door to greatness? Learn more about how your small businesses can win big at Asia's largest experiential conference, Corporate Innovation Summit 2020.