Richard Branson gives advice for small businesses to gain a competitive edge. He says, “Entrepreneurship is a great leveler. The wonderful thing is that money is not the sole currency when it comes to starting a business; drive, determination, passion and hard work are all free and more valuable than a pot of cash.”
He confirms that there are many factors involved in getting a business off the ground. And just because you have the financing to start a business doesn’t guarantee that it will be a success. Today with social media, small business have an even larger struggle in competing against their larger rivals.
According to Branson, you can create a “culture of opportunity” where employees can flourish. He says, “The first goal of any new business is simply to survive – you need to prove that your business model works. One of the best ways to do this is by hiring excellent people who believe in your company and share your goals, and then by helping them to learn and improve their skills. Your employees’ desire to learn gives you and other entrepreneurs a competitive advantage over larger companies. Small firms are usually new, so they attract people who are eager to try fresh approaches and have great ideas about how to do things differently, rather than employees who are working toward attaining a specific post or title.”
There are almost five million small companies and 96 percent of them employ less than 10 people. Employees have to diversify their set of skills and take on a number of roles which increases their influence over a business’s direction. Even though Branson seems to think this is positive, businesses need to guard against some of this.
James Passingham, (of Foehn a company that helps smaller companies get noticed by larger organizations) said, “First impressions count. The reality facing all business owners today is that customers expect a level of professionalism and a lack of it will affect your company’s credibility. The size of the business is immaterial. People judge the capabilities of a business on factors which are, in many ways, irrelevant. If one individual answers the phone, does the work and sends out the invoices, potential customers will notice that.”
Companies can protect themselves from this perceived weakness. Using a PO Box and having a receptionist can help small businesses appear to be more than just a small business.
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