Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of Care.com HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.
I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!
Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.
This Week’s Must-Read:
Who it’s for:
Every founder seeking to scale their business.
Why it’s important:
Every business faces competition, and it is ever present. Unless you’ve discovered a natural monopoly or developed a product that’s so out there that nobody else is making it, you’re going to have to outsmart your rivals.
Established players seem to have all the advantages, at least it seems: Their brand is more recognizable, economies of scale enable them to undercut your prices, and they can outspend you on marketing all day long.
But… Small businesses also have advantages over big players: They can move quickly, they can more easily build personal connections with consumers, and they’re considered more trustworthy. In my business space, we often found ourselves head-to-head with companies like ADP and Paychex, and our agile, focused, high-touch service proved to be a significant advantage. As a matter of fact, family-owned businesses are trusted by 80% of Americans, whereas only 52% of people trust public companies. To harness your entrepreneurial advantage, follow these three tips for taking on the big kids:
- Focus on Customer Relationships. Great customer service is the bedrock of a small business. Consumers today aren’t just interested in finding the best products. They want a first-class experience, and they’re willing to pay more to get it. Building brand loyalty through excellent customer service is more important than making a single sale, and long-term customer relationships are worth far more than that initial purchase. A 2017 survey found that 77% of people shared their positive experiences with a brand, with 44% of them mentioning the great customer service received. Poor customer service costs American businesses around $83 billion every year. Don’t fall into that trap.
- Be the Best at One Thing. Amazon sells everything, but it didn’t start out that way. It began as an online bookstore, focusing on its core business for years before expanding. Small businesses can hone their core function to create an advantage over corporate giants by specializing and becoming the best in their fields. Take the products or services that your business does best and work to provide an even better offering. Cut loose the rest.
- Take a Bang-For-The-Buck Approach to Tech Investments. Don’t simply throw money at technologies. Make sure your investments are geared toward providing a range of solutions, rather than only one or two. Each IT investment should do more than fix an isolated problem or solve a single business need. These investments should deliver greater output across product, sales, marketing, and the whole company. Lasting solutions are always better than short-term fixes. New technology offers a world of opportunities to small businesses, but it needs to be approached wisely.
Top Take-Away: Small businesses shouldn’t think like big companies. You need to harness the advantages that your agility offers you if you want to compete. Build lasting customer relationships, be the best in your field, and spend on tech wisely. Doing so will help keep you in business for a generation, instead of a year.
More Tips for Competing with the Big Kids: