How Small Businesses Can Survive Big

It’s a BIG world out there, and while technology is making it smaller every day (and that’s a good thing) most people still think in terms of “the bigger the better”

Dream BIG
Make LONG TERM plans
Create EPIC content
Accumulate a HUGE email list
Have MORE followers, likes, RTs
Get BIG budgets

And the list can go on and on. But it sends the wrong message, which is, everything less than BIG (whatever the definition) is not good enough.

This misconception keeps small business in a constant state of a chase and comparison: chasing the results of big businesses, trying to follow their steps and methods, attempting to guess and implement the secret ingredients for the growth.

Small Business In A Vacuum

Comparing your small business to a big business simply can put you on the road to frustration.
It’s their system and their road to success, not yours. There’s nothing wrong in striving for improvements and development but those two are not synonyms for big. And let’s think about this: not all people want to transform their small business into a large company.

Quality counts and the only way to get it out there, so other can see it and benefit from it, is to build it from the ground up.

But where to start when you are in a vacuum? How do you get out of the vicious circle of ‘not enough information, resources, clients, staff, and time’? How do you not fall for the promises of buzz words to truly find the value for your business beyond them?

Start With What You Have

The importance and values are subjective and relative.
Information you compiled in an excel file, tracking your sales, product promotions or having a ledger with feedbacks from your customers might look insignificant from the large size company standpoint but they are valuable to you and your business – that is “big data” for you.

Don’t get intimidated by the words and trendy conversations. Gartner stated that “Through 2015, 85% of Fortune 500 organizations will be unable to exploit Big Data for competitive advantage“.

It’s fair to say that small businesses have the real advantage – using personalized, more agile and faster business model to get the right information and get the most out of it.
But what about placing the right message once you get all the information? Everyone talk about storytelling, and there are different opinions of what it is. Some say: everything; some say it’s just one part of the content.

As a (small) business owner, you should not be overwhelmed with the amount of opinions and their differences. Your job is not to please the experts, gurus and other exotic titles by following them and their theories, but to grow your business.

Focus on YOUR business’ genuine message. Forget about others and think of the best way to show your value to prospects and clients. Be self-aware and be customer-centric when you choose the best distribution channel, words to convey your message, visuals that express the passion you want to share with your buyers.

The form of the message is not the most important and it doesn’t have to be perfect – the essence is. The business magic starts with the essence and what it represents to business, product or a message you want to place. Find the best context for it, form and channels will reveal themselves.
When we talk about big data and storytelling, all previously said can sound over simplified for the real life challenges of any small business. The biggest obstacles are not in collecting, analyzing and using data, or in creating a valuable content (in any form). The most significant setbacks wait in dark corners of time and budget shortage.

Manage Your Energy Not Your Time

Time is not limited, we are!
Don’t try to “save” time, it’s impossible! What we call productivity is just a byproduct of meaningfully used (physical and mental) energy that we have. The paradox of productivity is that we don’t know if we are truly productive until we reach a certain milestone where we can measure it. Therefore, the real question is not “how to manage time”, but “how to get the most out of our limited energy sources”?

When we combine energy with a budget (no matter how small) then we have a clear picture – we can outsource some work and meet the deadlines, we can use low-cost tools helping us with certain analysis – in return we get more energy for parts of projects that require expertise that only we as business owners can provide.

A small budget shouldn’t discourage you. Often even the smallest change in work routine can be extremely helpful

I am a small business owner myself and these are some of the questions and fears that I speak about with other business owners on a recurring basis.

This short post of thoughts and questions I am often asked is an introduction for our next #BizHeroes chat taking place on June 23rd. I am looking forward to meeting you and discuss this further!
Plase join us!

Update: You can find the transcript for June 23rd’s chat here

Take a peek at the questions!

Q1 What is, except size, the main difference between small and big business? 

Q2. Where should we start when business is tight on time, budget, and staff? 

Q3. What is the importance of the real-time information for small business?

Q4. Can big data really benefit a small business, and if so, how? 

Q5. Can a small business truly benefit from Storytelling? Or is that more for big brands. 

Q6. How can content curation help with small business challenges?

Q7. What is the worst small business tip you’ve ever received? 

Q8. Share few good low-cost or free tools you use to develop your small business. 

Iva Ignjatovic
Iva Ignjatovic is a small business owner, writer and business strategist helping small businesses transform and adapt to the digital world. Follow her on Twitter @IvaIgnjatovic.

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