In many ways, the moniker small business is a misnomer. When you consider that the average entrepreneur takes on the tasks that a big business parcels out to hundreds if not thousands of employees, a small business doesn't feel so small. The consensus among most small business owners is that big-box competition is a real threat to the small business owner. However, the things that make a small-business owner unique is what makes winning the big-box battle possible.
Behemoth retailers with their ability to monopolize distribution channels, spend more on marketing than you make in a year, offer loss leaders at will and enjoy volume discounts do make it hard for the small business to thrive, especially when the business is a startup. Big-box competition can also be a problem for start-ups because it takes some time to be recognized and accepted in the marketplace. However, small businesses are everything that big businesses aren’t. Generally in a big-box store, you’re lucky to find help and when you do, the employee often doesn’t even know if the store has the item and there’s no guarantee of the quality of the product. Go into a small retailer, however, and you can enjoy speedy, personalized service and higher quality products.
Many small business owners feel that the key to keeping a small business thriving is relationships. Businesses that survive over the years are the ones where the owners and employees develop relationships with customers. Small business owners should also engage customers with services like Groupon and Living Social to compete with big-box retailers. Getting customers into your business and building a relationship with them can keep them from jumping on the big-box bandwagon.
Building relationships with your local government can also work for your small business. Businesses that get the most support from local governments are the ones that reach out and become a staple in the community. Making an investment in your local community is bound to positively affect your business. For example, join the Chamber of Commerce, be a fixture at community events, volunteer to serve on local boards – all of these will help you obtain more support from your local government.
Keeping these things in mind can help your business thrive as you work to attract and build relationships with customers and your community.