According to Harvard Business professor, Boris Groysberg, “startups are the Googles of tomorrow” and these days it’s all about “disruption”. But what exactly does that mean for your small business?

Well, SME’s now make up 99% of Australian businesses in terms of numbers of businesses in Australia. And whilst much of the column centimetres in the newspapers go to the 1% of big corporations, in a world where ‘speed is the new size’, we small business owners have some really great things going for us that will help us win in the battle of business in coming years.

Size

Firstly, we’re smallish. That means we can be nimble. It’s much easier and quicker for us, and our teams, to respond to shifts in the market. And shift our markets have and are. You’ve probably seen some seismic shifts in your industry, even if it’s a very established one.

Hunger

Secondly, we’ve got hungry written into our very beings. We want our customers to have a great experience with us, stay with us as long as possible and we’re usually willing to do whatever it takes to make it so. There’s significantly less complacency in and around our businesses.

Versatility and Innovation

Thirdly, our size gives us versatility and that versatility can lead to real innovation. You need that in green, a little more to the right, or done in the next 15 minutes – sure, we can do that. And we move heaven and earth to make it so. Gone are the days of Ford’s “you can have that in any colour as long as it’s black” – my way or the highway.

Small business owners know they’re here to serve their customers – not just as a nicely crafted statement on the wall, but every day in a million and one small ways. We also know that if we listen closely enough to our customers (and team members), great new innovations emerge and those innovations can put us well and truly ahead of the business game.

Corporates may talk a good innovation game, but true innovation requires manoeuvrability around red tape and that’s something they just don’t have – whereas small businesses have significantly less (if any) red tape to manoeuvre around.

Always Up For a Challenge

Small business owners, like you and I, we’re always up for a challenge. And corporates know that we’re coming for them. For a while they’ve not really cared, thinking their behemoth size would protect them. But now that we’re seeing ‘traditional industry killers’ like Uber and AirBnB reshape the centuries- old transport and hotel industries, ye olde-world corporates realise they’re not so safe any longer.

Now you might be thinking, I’m not really a ‘startup’ per se – I’m just a small business owner. But what is a start-up, if not a small business – especially at first. You have to remember, even the now almighty Google, which started life being called ‘BackRub’, started not as a ‘start-up’, but as two students working on a university project, mucking around trying to get things to work, before moving into a friend’s garage two years later.

Richard Branson at Rock The Kasbah presented by Virgin Unite.

And Richard Branson’s now famous Virgin Group, started life selling discount records via mail-order in the basement at his parent’s house.

Culturally Different

What makes the difference between you and a corporate? Richard Branson, says it’s “giving it a go” – whatever problem (business or otherwise) it is that you’re trying to solve for a customer. “The important thing is that you instinctively feel, you can do it a damn sight better than anyone else, you just get out and do it,” Branson says.

Small business has an innately different culture – we fix things for people, make things better for them, every day – it’s what we do. And that difference leads to better everyday interactions. Culture is set by you. From there it filters down to everyone in your organisation and to your customers. Last blog we wrote about our ‘fishy culture’ and the difference it makes to me, our staff and all of our customers.

If you don’t like your culture, you can change it pretty quickly. As a small business owner, you do that by living it on a daily basis. It won’t take long to be picked up as ‘the way we/they do things around here/there’. It’s a much tougher gig to get any real level of change for corporates, however, with their hundreds or thousands of staff members, many of whom will be change resistant and that’s what keeps them stuck in the quagmire of ‘this is how we’ve always done it’.

Like us, Richard Branson is full of enthusiasm for what’s to come for small business. “The last 10 years have been unreal with the amount of creativity that is taking place and how the world is changing so rapidly as a result of entrepreneurs, and changing, I think, generally for the better”.

If you feel that your business could benefit from being welcomed into vibrant service culture where you can mix with other enthusiastic SME entrepreneurs and challenge the corporate status quo, we’d be delighted to talk to you. You can call us on 1300 318 680 or drop us a note.