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10/08/13

Different and Stoked: Small businesses flourish thanks to being amazingly unique

Large scale chains and corporations, regardless of what industry they compete in, make it a point to not only make money but eliminate the competition any chance they get.
Whether big money players rely on heavy marketing, celebrity endorsements or specific product placement, they're in the business to succeed, regardless of who or what they have to step on in the process.
Most probably don't actively pursue shutting down mom and pop stores or even enjoy it; they're just collateral damage that is part of a larger revenue and retail or industry picture.
Some would argue that small businesses stand as somewhat of an economic backbone within the United States, and that their success is a true barometer of the prosperity of the country.
That's why their ability to not only do well but flourish is essential in today's business world. Smaller corporations provide a distinct, diverse alternative to corporately driven sales pitches and cleverly placed television commercials during the Super Bowl.

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So how can the small business compete with larger companies?
Simple: Be different.
Points of differentiation put the small business at a distinct advantage, especially against their larger competition. Big companies barely have time to keep up with the hustle and bustle of the work day, how their stock is trading or what their gross profit margin is at any given second.
Small businesses should be heavy on customer service and support. Big companies usually include that promise within their perfectly crafted pitch to customers but few deliver as promised.
How many times have you walked into a large scale store looking for help, only to find associates scattered throughout 60,000 square feet of building? Personalized service goes a long way to keeping customers happy and leads to return business and referrals, two incredibly important staples for smaller entities.
Having a particular niche in the market could serve a smaller company well, even though initially could be looked upon as a downside. Wal-Mart is the nation's leading retailer that specializes in nothing specific but rather everything in general. The smaller scale companies should find something that they're really passionate about and focus on that as their main objective.
Supporters of small businesses would also argue that giving items away for free is another means to attract customers. That's true to some degree, but the type of giveaway or contest should be looked upon carefully; small businesses often don't have a lot of margin or cash flow at their expense.
Instead, use your marketing dollars on indulging your clientele with customer centric, ancillary services as opposed to offering iPods or free vacations. If you own a small, local health club, you should treat your members to special days to bring a guest for free or a healthy luncheon.
While the bigger boys in the fitness industry are busy pumping both iron and themselves up, you'll be building up your customer base.
And, at the end of the day, that's really the objective of any business: keep current customers and bring in new ones.
Small businesses certainly have the wherewithal to implement enough strategy to stay relevant, if not totally topple their larger than life foes.

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