How to differentiate your small business from large competitors

Running a small business, you’re going to come up against some stiff competition. Larger companies in particular will have a wider reach and are often able to offer lower prices thanks to their size, making their competitive edge even sharper.

However, it’s easier than you think to differentiate yourself from big businesses. As a smaller business, you appeal to would-be customers for a number of reasons – you are nimble and adapt quickly to change, and most importantly you are in a position where you can build a rapport and strong, lasting connections with your clients.

Here are five small ways to capitalise on your size and add value to the service you provide to your customers to stand out against the big fish in the pond.

1. Tailor your customer interactions

Big companies are not always known for their customer service. As a small business, you’re in a position to offer more face-to-face time with your clients. Work on remembering small facts that your clients might have mentioned about their personal life, and follow up on these the next time you see them. Digital tools can also help you add a personal touch to your service. Attention to detail will make your customer feel valued, and form the basis of a strong professional relationship.

2. Set your business values

These will show through in every business interaction you have. Decide what’s important to you in the daily running of a business – whether that’s keeping to your word, or being open and honest. These values guide your decision making and dealings with customers, and by committing to them, you prove your intent to carry out a solid performance for the task at hand.

3. Develop your local connections

Customers often prefer enlisting a service closer to home, and it can be comforting to source help from someone who is local. It’s also important to support local business, and people are quick to recommend their favourites amongst their social circles. If you’ve done the hard yards your name will be top of mind. Consider building up a local small-business network to differentiate yourself from larger companies. Find complementary services and trade business cards. Your customers will appreciate the trusted recommendations and it will benefit the extended small business community.

4. Dabble in some community service

A great way to differentiate your small business is to make an impact on the local community you operate in. Look at how you can give back – volunteer, sit on a community board or simply help out with odd jobs in your community. The message to your customers is that you’re a good neighbour – something that can’t always be said about large companies.

5. Go back to what fuelled you in the first place

At the end of the day, the best way to attract business, make a lasting impression on customers and stand out from large competitors is to be yourself. Driving a business forward, and coordinating everything behind the scenes at the same time is no small feat, and the passion that motivated you to strike out on your own is what potential customers will see.

You can leverage your competitive edge over the bigger firms, and achieve what they can’t by learning how to use the size of your small business to your advantage. Play to your strengths and focus on the customer and you will reap the rewards.

Chris Strode, Founder, www.invoice.2go.com

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