The reading level for this article is Novice

Those of us business owners who do it all, whether we are home based or a small business have it made. With today’s technology we can look as big as we want. With the web, faxes, video conferencing and all the burgeoning technology you don’t need to be a big business to succeed today. We can do a lot that our competition can’t or won’t do. So let’s take advantage of  being small.

In fact, being small has its advantages. The mom and pop or one person operation only has to worry about themselves not employees. If we have a bad month, someone else is not depending on us to pay them. We tighten our belts and work harder next month.

We can also take risks that a larger company might not. A different marketing technique, a new and innovative strategy. We can go with our creative ideas. We don’t have anyone to answer to but ourselves. So our creative process doesn’t need to go through channels or get someone else’s approval.

Another advantage, especially for those of us in a home based business; we don’t need the fancy trappings of larger companies. For many of us home based businesses owners our office is in the kitchen, dining room, family room, part of their bedroom. Even for those of us using a second bedroom or den as an office, we keep our costs down. We don’t need the high priced rents, fancy furniture or luxury cars. We can keep our costs down by working out of our home, buying used or discount furniture. We keep costs down, cut corners and count our pennies. We are frugal rather than extravagant.

We can also make alliances with other business outside our area, network or form a partnership relationship with them. We compliment each other. These  businesses are typically in a related but not competing field. However, we can also work with our competition. There are many word processors who network with one another, so if they have overflow work, they have someone they can give the work to. Lawyers who can’t handle a particular case, refer it to another. An example of a great alliance would be a travel agent with B&Bs, spas, resorts. Or, let’s say you have developed an exercise machine you have been selling through your website and mail order. Why not try to develop an alliance with a sporting goods store to sell your product. Or set up an alliance with exercise newsletters or magazines who could send a mailing to their subscribers about your product.

You could also check with organizations that can help  you showcase your product. What about Weight Watchers, or Ediets.

If you were selling promotional items ask your local Chamber if they would be interested in getting T-shirts or hats imprinted.  Catering businesses could offer their services to a local charity or a restaurant could give any left overs to a local food bank.

Giving away prizes, your time and services is something we have discussed in a number of other articles.

For those of you in business whose competition has been around a while and is bigger and more powerful, what do you do? Well, we would ignore them and go about our business. Never, ever bad mouth your competition. When students ask us about other coaches we never bad mouth them. Whatever you think personally of your competition is your business and it should never be shared. Run your business in an honest, and ethical manner and let your customer decide who they want to do business with. Remember, you are smaller so you can offer them more personalized attention, cater to their needs. Many times as businesses grow bigger and more powerful they forget what got them where they are.attention to their customers needs. You don’t have that problem, you have all the time in the world to give your customers your undivided attention. Your business depends on it.

Always research your competition. Know what products they sell, how they market them, distribute and sell them. Be sure to keep this material and update it periodically. You should have examples of their promotional materials, pricing, their services, products, etc. Update on a quarterly basis. Reading periodicals in your area and joining groups in your area of business give you the opportunity to ask questions about how people got started, the problems they had. You need to make it your business to learn as much as you can from others in your area. Depending on your business you might also have an industry publication that contains information on your competition. If so, subscribe to it.

We can do a lot that our competition can’t or won’t do. So let’s take advantage of  being small, being courteous, offering better service, trying harder and offering our personal attention. Very compelling reasons for customers to do business with us rather than our competition.

Copyright 2004 DeFiore Enterprises

This Entrepreneurship article was written by Sue DeFiore on 3/7/2005

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