Can a small business learn ideas from a big business and adopt some of its top strategies after some modification? Absolutely!
It’s understandable why this is not obvious. On the surface of it, the two kinds of businesses appear to have little in common. A small business is fairly limited in resources and influence while a big business has millions or billions, hires hundreds to thousands of people, can fund the most challenging R&D projects, and has tremendous market influence.
However, when you take a closer look, it’s not too far-fetched to state that a small business is like a smaller version of a big business. In some areas, quality counts more than quantity.
What A Small Business Can Learn From A Big Business
1. Field Management.
Both small and large companies send out employees to install, service, or repair systems or equipment. The main difference is the size and scale of the projects. In either case, software for field ops will be needed to schedule and dispatch techs, manage inventory, collect information in real-time, and accurately bill the client. By observing how a big company manages its field projects, a small business can learn how to manage its assets in the field better.
Although the news talks about how millions were lost on a big company’s data breach, this doesn’t mean that small companies with only thousands in assets escape the attention of hacking groups. Hackers may view small business assets as petty cash compared to how much money is available by looting a big business, but they also see hacking a small business as a way of making some easy money — because many small businesses have few if any security measures. Hackers don’t just attack the computer systems of big companies; they also select small companies to pick the low lying fruit.
By observing how big companies protect their computer infrastructure from hackers, small businesses can also learn how to get better at security. They, too, can add a firewall, train staff to be alert to phishing scams, apply adaptive authentication to notice suspicious logging in behavior, and use a VPN to protect remote work.
3. Marketing and advertising.
Big businesses research what people want and rely on the best marketing advice on how to continue to build their brand. In fact, they continue to build their brand even when their company name is a household word. Coca-Cola’s branding continues with tremendous enthusiasm despite the fact that the company is now 125 years old. Generations have come and gone believing that Coca-Cola was one of the best soft drinks in the world. Even billionaire investor Warren Buffett once confessed that he drinks about 5 cans of Coke a day. Much of big business marketing is a reliance on traditional forms of advertising—print, radio, and television.
While a small business doesn’t have anywhere close to what a big business has to spend, and in fact, a big business’s marketing budget might be greater than the combined assets of a small business, a small business can still learn from the creative marketing and advertising techniques deployed by a big business. For instance, it can add some traditional marketing instead of only relying on less expensive online marketing campaigns to generate leads and customers.
How A Small Business Can Learn From A Big Business
We’ve looked at examples of what a small business can learn from a big business, but it’s also important to talk about how it can learn these things.
Here are two ideas:
1. A small business can learn from the mistakes of a big business.
Even the world’s biggest retailer, Walmart, for example, despite its enormous experience with managing millions of employees isn’t immune to making huge mistakes that damage its brand name. Fortune describes Wal-Mart’s bad corporate decision that created a nationwide furor of bad publicity: “Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, cited rising costs when it told employees that all future part-timers who work less than 24 hours a week on average will no longer qualify for any of the company’s health insurance plans.”
2. Research what big companies do right.
Small companies can learn a lot by observing the creative ideas big companies use in their commercials, brochures, online marketing, advertising, and branding. Many creative ideas are inexpensive can also be easily adopted by a small company.
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