Size Matters in Small Business

Size matters in small business! Many small businesses become frustrated by their size, but there are plenty of benefits that bigger businesses miss out on. Here’s our pros and cons of being a small business.

Pros

We’ll start with the pro’s as there are many. Big businesses can only dream of being as flexible, decisive and connected as their smaller counterparts!

Small Businesses Adapt

Just do it! As a small business you can make your own decisions quickly. You can respond easily to local events and unexpected opportunities. Unlike larger businesses who have to consult with other departments or head office, you can just do what you want. By the time head office have had all their meetings, made plans, and signed off on ideas, the spontaneity, and probably the opportunity, has long gone.

Adapt quickly! When suppliers let you down, or opportunities arise you can adapt quickly. A small independent restaurant can change their menu on a daily basis to suit local demand. They can make substitutions if there are supplier issues, or add a special if they get a great deal on a new ingredient. We recently visited a Brewers Fayre and found that half the menu couldn’t be made because just two items were missing from their deliveries. They had no authority to make substitutions or adapt, so we left.

Do what you love

You’re the expert! As a small business you are in a better position to niche yourself. Being able to focus your expertise is something big companies can’t easily do. Larger companies work because they offer a consistent service, but specialist staff are not so easy to get. You’ll get opportunities that big companies miss out on. Large business often lack specialist expertise, and turn to freelancers and small local businesses when they need to.

Be creative! As a small business you get to be as creative as you like with all aspects of running your business. Creativity is stifled the more people that get involved, so larger businesses struggle with this.

People like local

People like local, small companies. We don’t like mass produced stuff made by big companies. When we buy local we know who we are buying from and there is often a story behind it. People like to recommend local companies too!

Some larger businesses spend lots of money and effort trying to be community minded, but small local businesses don’t need to try, they ooze local values. Co-Op and Tesco, for example, both hire staff specifically to seek out and support community stuff.

You’re one of them, so you understand the needs of your local community which makes you best placed to meet their needs, and quickly! Knowing the challenges your community faces means you can solve problems for them in a unique way.

Less bureaucracy

Please yourself! As a small business you’ll have no meetings about meetings, you’ll not need multiple people to sign off on stuff before projects can begin. If you want a new website, you buy a new website. You’re not bogged down in bureaucracy and procedure.

Less admin! The bigger you are the more admin you have too. As a smaller business, stock takes are less frequent and detailed, accounting is much simpler and you might not have to deal with VAT. There is less health and safety, less compliance with food labelling, and many other benefits!

Better Service

More responsive! As a small, local business you can deal with problems much more quickly and efficiently. If there is a problem, you can fix it anyway you like. You’ve no need for restrictive customer service policies, you have the freedom to rectify any situation anyway you like.

You’re close to your customers! Working so closely with your customers means you’ll get a unique insight into their problems and needs. Bigger businesses have to make extra effort to stay in touch with their customers, you speak to them everyday.

You’re close to your staff! You also see your staff everyday and often work alongside them. This makes it much easier for you to stay in the loop and support them individually in their roles, and lives. You’ll know them all personally, and this gives you many more opportunities to be a better employer.

Cons

Of course, it’s not all plain sailing! Here are a few of the downsides of being a small business:

You wear all the hats!

Good at everything. As a small business owner you have to be good at everything. There is no marketing department, or sales team to support your business. Often it’s just you and a few others so you might find yourself multi-tasking quite regularly. That’s not to say you can’t hire freelancers to help you out. There is a growing market of experts ready to help you out on an ad hoc basis!

Lack confidence! Taking on so many roles means having no one to bounce ideas off. This can lead to a lack of confidence when it comes to decision making. It can also cause delays and suppress growth. While it is easy to make fast decisions as a small entity, without the confidence to do it, the benefit can be lost.

It’s cheaper

Better Terms! Larger businesses often benefit from better payment terms and deals simply because they are able to offer more business. It is sometimes possible to collaborate with other local businesses to get better deals though!

They do volume! It cheaper to create lots of the same product, than a few at a time. Larger businesses place much larger orders so the price per unit can drop quite fast. Delivery costs can be high too. Whether you are receiving a large or small delivery, it doesn’t always make much difference to the price.

Easier to grow

Infrastructure is in place! It’s hard to grow from being a sole trader to an employer. There are a lot of changes that need to be made to allow for a company to take those first steps. But, a larger company already has all that in place, so its easier for them to tweak the structure to allow for sudden growth.

They are more investible! Larger businesses often have better access to investment or credit terms. They have a proven track record and access to experts who know how to write proposals that win investment.

Bigger businesses might have it easier in many ways, but staying small has plenty of advantages!


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