3 Important Lessons That Can Be Learned From Small and Independent Businesses
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Have you ever wondered what gives independent companies that extra edge? More often than not, it’s intrinsically linked to the way they do business; a way of operating that is unique to their niche and makes full use of their capabilities, while accommodating their limitations. There are a number of important lessons that can be learned from these companies, and here we take a look at three of them.
Resilient and more locally minded: what it means to be a small independent business
Quite apart from the classic underdog image of a David and Goliath struggle, there are in fact a number of important operational strengths which are found much more readily in smaller enterprises than big ones. The following are the three stand-out takeaways from this.
Remain committed to your customers not your shareholders
One of the great things about being an independent business is that you have complete control over all aspects of how you are run. This includes where you put your finances, how your creative direction is steered and for whom you direct your product. It is this ability to determine the course of the company that most often is cited as the number one difference between an independent and public business. Take Swiss watchmaker Oris, for example, whose models sell for over a thousand dollars apiece. While for a newcomer to the Swiss watch market that might sound like a lot, it really isn’t. Oris prides itself on designing timepieces for the everyman and not for an elite group of individuals. Despite the turbulent times of the quartz crisis, they have managed to remain not only independent but committed to designing and creating mechanical watches with unique and useful complications.
Innovate and don’t rest on your laurels
Small businesses are often seen as the most innovative and adventurous kinds of companies out there, experimenting with new ideas, methodologies and processes that can improve their product and customer experience. There are various reasons why this constant push for progress is most commonly seen in smaller enterprises and not in large corporations. For one thing, the bigger the company gets the more ‘bloated’ it often becomes: with more management stratum and tiers of approval to get through, the agile thinking and welcomeness to change are all too often lost. In its place, a culture of comfortability and acceptance emerges. In a recent poll of the most innovative companies of 2018, independent brand Patagonia ranked in 6th place on account of its ability to use its business power for driving social change. This not only has helped it to boost its profile, but has built greater brand trust among consumers with its striking mission statement.
Retain a sense of personality and an intimacy with your customers
One of the best lessons taught to us by smaller businesses is the importance of nurturing a close and personal relationship with your customer base. Evolving out of the independent shop owner mentality is an expectation of a local shopkeeper knowing you by name and greeting you warmly every time you enter. Small companies are better placed to maintain this kind of personal intimacy given the down-scaled size of operations, yet this does not mean it is impossible for bigger companies to achieve this too. Effective social media marketing, for instance, is a great way for businesses of all sizes and structure to communicate directly with their customers in a relaxed and more informal capacity.
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