There are over 20 million small and medium sized companies in the US who go head to head daily with large big box brands in providing customers with the products and services they need. It’s a David versus Goliath scenario, where historically David has been forced to fish in smaller and niche ponds, primarily due to the unequal access to resources. However, things are changing rapidly.
By adopting innovative and low cost technology platforms, small businesses are finding ways to reach out to all consumers of relevance, without stressing resources. This goes a long way toward leveling the playing field between the two. Today’s David is agile, has reach and can offer customization of both products and services to provide a better fit in the consumers’ workplace. So what are some of the technology and cultural areas that the smaller companies can focus on for achieving higher efficiencies?
Migrate to the cloud
As a small company, you don’t need to invest heavily in expensive IT and software anymore. Just move your workplace to the cloud. From data storage and management, computing, access to innovative tools that improve efficiency while lowering costs, the cloud is where your business needs to be. You don’t need expensive point of sale software anymore. Cloud based tools that work on tablets and smart phones are cheaper, more efficient and allow better integration between the front and the back end of the business.
The power of social media
Customer acquisition is an expensive activity. With current rentals being what they are, opening new outlets to reach more consumers is often beyond most small companies. Today, 67% of Americans over the age of 12 use social media, up from 24% six years ago. Reaching out and acquiring customers on these platforms is cheaper and more efficient than opening new stores. It’s about a lower cost of customer acquisition and the reach to deliver the product or service. This ability gives David a huge cost advantage over Goliath. Today, advertising your company homepage on social media sites and seeking likes and referrals to spread the word on your company are all must do activities.
Keeping abreast with technology
Small businesses are slowly learning to leverage technology and hence be more competitive and cost effective. One way to make this a self-sustaining cycle is keep abreast with technological changes. Apps like Streak and Rapportive plug into universal software like Gmail and Outlook and make them more powerful tools, capable of functions like tracking customer leads and pipelines and providing detailed customer profiles.
Ensure employee health
Smaller companies need all hands on deck, all the time. An employee’s absenteeism can adversely affect the day-to-day functioning of the company. It’s in the company’s interest to keep its employees healthy and to promote a clean work environment. The issue of testing employees for substance use is a contentious one. There’s a fine balance between company needs and the employee’s right to privacy. Voluntary testing respects both the employee’s rights while addressing the need for a clean environment. The oral fluid lab test is a simple non-intrusive test that tests for substance ingestion in the past 48 hours.
Technology is increasingly providing a level playing field between the small and big box companies. It is allowing smaller companies to compete with companies many times their size, something that would have been unthinkable even five years ago.