How to Beat The Big Guys in New BusinessWhether your business is small, medium, or large, everything is relative.

You’ll more than likely find yourself competing for a piece of business against someone who is bigger than you are, and has more resources at their disposal.

Some of the best ideas come from outside of your industry, and this article in Inc. Magazine directed at PR agencies, provided six tips to compete against the big boys. The ideas apply equally well to automotive manufacturing or any other industry, for that matter.

Business development is business development. It doesn’t matter in which industry you are jockeying for position. The bottom line is to play smart, play on your strengths, and truly (and meaningfully) differentiate yourself.

Seven Tips to Compete Against the Big Guys

These little things are what will differentiate you from your larger competitors. You don’t have to be big to win big business.

What do you think? Have you won a piece of business against a much larger competitor? Tell us about it.

Thanks to smallbizio for the image.



Keep Your Friends Close and Your Competitors CloserTeaming up with the competition? It sounds counter-intuitive, since by definition any customer your competitor gains supposedly means a corresponding loss of revenue for you. Certainly this is an accepted truth in the “old school” business model.

But times are changing, says Erin Schwartz, a guest blogger on thoughtLEADERS LLC. In the modern business world, there are ways of working with the competition that can “actually enhance your business.”

What are the possible benefits of cooperating instead of competing?

Five Benefits of Cooperating With Competitors

Find a Differentiating Niche

When you and your competitor offer customers the same products or services, you’re both trapped in a “dog-eat-dog” business culture. The only way to win is by lowering prices, which Schwartz calls an “uninspired business model.”

A better alternative is specialization. Finding a way to differentiate your product can ultimately lead to enhanced business results “because you’ll have an easier time focusing and striving for improvement.”

The niche you develop may appeal to a smaller market, but in all likelihood you’ll have a lock on that market.

Create a Referral Synergy

A willingness to refer customers to another business (if and when they’re in a better position to meet those customers’ needs) builds goodwill and respect among your customer base. “That respect will likely lead them back to you when they have needs that align with your specialty,” Schwartz notes. A like-minded competitor will return the favor and, upon occasion, refer people to you.

Innovation through Collaboration

When you can establish a cooperative relationship with a competitor, many surprising things can happen. Sharing information can generate more effective and cost-efficient ways to do business and save money—always a win-win.

Make Your Customers Happy

Your customers will benefit from improvements in products and services that come about as a result of positive intra-industry relationships. As Schwartz notes, “these improvements benefit the companies, which invariably find loyal customers through this process.”

He cites cases of business owners who pair up with similar companies to offer training and educational sessions on issues related to their businesses.

For example, two financial planners co-sponsor a seminar on retirement planning. One business owner focuses on which accounts to open to minimize tax burdens, while the other discusses long-term care insurance. In this case, it’s unlikely one financial planner took customers away from the other.

“Instead, they both gained exposure that they might not have received if they hadn’t worked together,” which can eventually lead to increased business for each one.

Let Go of “Me-Against-Them”

The global economy has forever changed the way we do business. The more competitors you have in your space, the more you can work as an industry to increase demand. With enlightened competitors, it’s possible to collaborate in ways that benefit your customers and enable your business to grow.

Wherever possible, look for ways to move beyond a “Me-Against-Them” business model and see how working with a competitor can benefit you both.

How can you work with a competitor to grow your business?   

Thanks to Smallbusiness.co.uk for the image.

Five Reasons Why Businesses Fail Within the First Six MonthsMany, many businesses fail in the first six months. What are the reasons why businesses fail so often in those first, key months?

Generally speaking, new businesses go through a number of stages that determine where the enterprise is headed.

How they perform during these stages well set the trajectory, and often be the test for whether the new business is strong enough to progress further.

The six-month mark is especially critical, and can clearly indicate what lies ahead—success or failure.

So says James Jorner, a contributor to Business 2 Community, who notes, “Most businesses don’t make it past the first half of their one-year anniversary.”

Here are five reasons why businesses fail so quickly.  (more…)

How to Build a Sustainable BusinessHere’s a question every business owner considers at some point in their career: “How do I build a sustainable business?”

The answer isn’t simple or quick or easy, but Joe Worth, vice president of operations and partner at B2B CFO says, “the answer is the same for any small business, whether it’s looking to cash out in 50 months or 50 years.”

In a recent article for Entrepreneur, Worth lays out what he calls “a basic checklist” to build a sustainable business.

A Sustainable Business is Financially Strong

Having financial controls in place reduces the possibilities of theft or fraud and enables you to make effective decisions about the future. “Until you know where every penny’s going,” Worth says, “your business isn’t on sound footing.”

Reduce or Eliminate Distractions

Your job as CEO or business owner is to focus on the future—“building relationships, developing new products and services and overseeing other big-picture ideas.”

But you can’t attend to these vital functions if you’re distracted by cash flow issues or hiring and firing employees.

“Hire trustworthy and smart people to handle the details,” Worth says. “They’re worth it.”

Diversify

Whatever products or services you’re providing, keep thinking about ways to diversify your offerings. “Spreading sales over more customers, product lines, or markets … enhances opportunities for growth.”

Document Business Processes

Worth says, “I often tell owners if they want to be a bigger company eventually, act like one now.”

This means you have to maintain accurate and comprehensive documentation of your business processes.

Strive for Continuous Improvement

An inefficient business is almost guaranteed to fail sooner, rather than later. Improve efficiencies wherever possible, Worth says. “Every dollar of improvement here will result in more dollars of value, whether it’s four years from now or 40.”

Guard Your Intellectual Property

Think it’s too costly to hire an IP attorney? If so, your business could be at risk of losing valuable rights for trademarks, names, designs, technologies, etc.

Maintain Equipment and Upgrade Where Necessary

The technology used in your business must be maintained because, without it, what do you have?

As Worth notes, you should always have access to funds “that can be used to take advantage of technological improvements, expand operations and keep everything in running order.”

Be a Fair and Inclusive Employer

Obviously, a high-performing team is a must-have for the longevity of your business. Put HR policies in place that increase employee retention, rather than diminish it.

Don’t Compete on Price

Becoming known for undercutting the competition is a non-starter, Worth says. Not only does it destroy your profit margins, “you want customers to choose you for your superior products and services, not because you’re cheapest.”

Businesses that focus on the quick buck rarely last long.

Instead, a company whose owner charts growth and progress in years, not months, “is a much easier ship to steer.”

What are you doing to build a sustainable business?  

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Competition-Is-NecessaryAny time you have had to deal with the utility company, the phone company, or the cable company, you likely have come away frustrated.

Why is it so hard to work with those types of companies?

They don't have any competition. In most cities, there is one company for each service and they have the monopoly.

Their customer service is terrible. Their employees are not empowered to make decisions. And getting any help is like pulling your own wisdom teeth.

They do not have to improve these things because there is no competition.

As business leaders, we should want more competition. It makes us healthy and innovative. It drives us to more efficiencies. And, in many cases, it provides an opportunity to create new products.

Following are five additional reasons competition is good. (more…)

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