Being a small business, it can feel impossible to compete with big-name competitors. It seems that they have all the funding and all the resources, and you feel like David trying to take down Goliath—except you forgot your slingshot this time. This is especially true when it comes to developing new products. The big-name businesses have the funding needed for in-depth market research and product development. They can afford to test new products that fail, whereas doing that in a small business can quickly bankrupt you.
So what’s the little guy to do? How can you out-innovate the competition as a small business in a big business world? Here are 4 things that you can use to rise above the rest.
Build Genuine Relationships
Here’s one advantage of being the little guy: Consumers are more likely to build genuine, meaningful relationships with you than they are with big, faceless corporations. Use this to help your business grow. Be genuine on social media, and let consumers see who you really are. The more they connect with you, the more they will interact with you, share their thoughts about your company, and do business with you.
But how does this connect to innovation? Because your consumers are a well of great ideas just waiting to be tapped. But they’re not going to share their ideas with somebody they have no connection with. They won’t call up the customer service line of a big-box retailer and share their big ideas, because they don’t think those guys will listen. But if they’re connected to you, trust you, and believe that you will actually hear what they have to say, they will share their ideas with you—and that can lead to major innovations for your company.
Close-Knit Team Dynamic
The bigger a company is, the less likely it is that the entire team is going to feel connected to one another. This is another advantage that small businesses can leverage against their bigger competitors. With a close-knit team dynamic, employees are more likely to be personally invested in a business, and so they’ll offer innovative ideas to help the company, regardless of whether or not that’s part of their job description.
A team-based approach to innovation accelerates the speed of execution for new ideas, because resources can be allocated from every department. With this sort of dynamic at your back, you can be a true innovation machine.
Allow Pet Projects
Large corporations frequently have a “keep your head down and do your job” dynamic. Everything is based on numbers and productivity. But because small businesses generally have that closer team dynamic mentioned above, they often have the luxury of allowing employees to take on pet projects during business hours.
Of course, this is something any company can do, regardless of size, but as a small business, you can better leverage your close-knit team dynamic for these sorts of projects. Develop small teams that work together to develop new ideas and modify existing products to improve them or make them more profitable. With your more engaged employees taking on projects they are passionate about, you’ll see incredible innovations in your business.
Keep It Organized
If you want to out-innovate the big guys, you need to stay on top of the ideas you receive from your customers and employees. Don’t think that just because you’re a small business, you can manage this info by hand. It’s important that you invest in idea management software to track input and manage innovative ideas from all sectors of your business. This will allow you to pinpoint trends and stay on top of idea development, so that you can keep ahead of the competition.
Guest post courtesy of Smith Willas