Stay the distance through feast and famine

Stay the distance through feast and famine

So you’re a small business with big dreams. You sit there and day dream about becoming the next big thing and why not?! Every big business started out small, very small, stayed ahead of the game to stay the distance and made it.
So what do you and yours need to consider when trying to future proof your business, navigate through the good times and the bad to come out on top?
Let’s have a look at a few household names, what they’ve done so that you don’t have to re-create the wheel.

Dell Computers

In 1984 with only $1,000 Michael Dell starts his corporation and drops out of University. Taking on the goliath IBM at the time, Dell was able to simply manoeuvre more quickly than its titanic competitor.

Many of us are going into industries where there are big players, but just like the titanic they’ll take a long time to change direction and respond to the market. Take advantage of this and use the fact you can make decisions in far shorter spaces of time and respond to customer and market conditions more quickly. Dell’s ‘direct to consumer’ model meant that whilst their competitors used a supplier chain model Dell we able to undercut most high end manufactures in the market and give their customers really good deals.

Think about how you can tweak your business and / or revenue model to do things just slightly different to your competitors

The business began in 1940, with a restaurant opened by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernardino, California. Their introduction of the “Speedee Service System” in 1948 established the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant. The original mascot of McDonald’s was a man with a chef’s hat on top of a hamburger shaped head whose name was “Speedee.” Speedee was eventually replaced with Ronald McDonald by 1967 when the company first filed a U.S. trademark on a clown shaped man having a puffed out costume legs.

Two things here; firstly they recognised the need to deal with their customers quickly, turnaround was essential. There are two times of changes that can be brought into a market. Disruptive changes like the iPod MP3 player which wiped out an entire technology such as the Discman or mini disc player. Then there are incremental changes which are products or services which come into the market which provide benefits such as speed, cost and ease of use. Secondly they created an icon, from Speedee to Ronald McDonald who became the face of their company. Who likes the faceless corporate? No-one, especially in a very business to consumer driven market place. So give yours a face, give it some character, something the public can buy into
The UK’s biggest supermarket chain started out as a stall in the East End of London in 1919. Tesco was founded by Jack Cohen when he began to sell extra groceries. His first day’s profit was £1 from sales of £4. In 1924 the first Tesco product – Tesco Tea – was sold by Mr Cohen. The name Tesco comes from the initials of TE Stockwell, who was a partner in the firm of tea suppliers, and CO from Mr Cohen’s surname. Today Tesco’s empire stretches the imagination. 

They have become the master of capturing an audience and selling them the world, in simple terms diversifying. So today when you go into the blue and white grocers you’ll see all flavours of insurance being offered, mobile phone, the iPhone, banking, credit cards, it’s own brand electronic products called Technika, petrol,  DVD and CD rentals, music downloads, internet services and clothing…phew!
Now it’s true that many small companies probably diversify too early, but the lesson to be learned here is do a couple of things really really well; capture the attention of your audience and then offer them the world that you’re in.

Lessons to be learned:
1.  They all started off small, really small, stuck to their plan and the rest was history
2.  Take on Goliath – Remember your strengths in being a smaller organisation
3.   Be different. Your USP might be something as small as the way you charge your customers. Look at what your competitors are doing and outsmart them on aspects of the market they may have over looked.
4.  Capture their attention, and then diversify.  Become really good at a few things, build a name for yourself and trust in the market then grow your products and services.

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