Running a large company must be annoying, but running a smaller one often makes you miss the trees or the forest depending on the day. You're going up against people that have actual physical humans to take the load off of them. As you probably don't have that level of flexibility or cashflow, you need priorities to keep yourself afloat fiscally and psychologically. Life can be exhausting if you attempt to endlessly copy the larger, better-monied corporations. So, if you're looking to grow and scale, you may want to turn the ship and use the liquid world of small business to your advantage.
It's Time To Be Analytical
Just because you're a smaller company than most, that doesn't mean that you have to overlook analytical data. Every week I sit down and look at the trends of my PR firm, and occasionally I'll see little ideas (certain companies I've done better for, or ones that pay late based on certain factors) and I'm able to, little by little, streamline. This also applies to the wonderful world of site and social analytics, as even the smallest business can begin to see exactly what's going on in a conversation surrounding them. Free services like Google Analytics and Followerwonk have made it a lot easier to track said data and see both positive and negative trends in your site traffic, and help you make decisions made on something other than emotion.
Even If Your Market's Small, Make A Marketing Plan
That asinine phrase "those who fail to plan, plan to fail" is actually fairly accurate, but smaller businesses believe that they either have to market too much (ridiculous advertising spends or seedy social media managers) or not at all. The trick is to find a balance with a logical marketing plan, one that realizes that, no, you're not going to out-do a $200 million (or billion) company, but you yourself can attack the market you're in. Understand who your customer is – how old are they? Where do they shop? What do they care about? What do they need? Creating a marketing plan that appeals to them, be it targeted content or local marketing, is going to be a difference-maker only if you're intelligent about it. If you do it well, they'll trust you. Maybe even love you.
Engaging in Social Media The Right Way
A business' social media seems obvious, yet there're still people out there that have the approach that they simply don't need it. While you don't have to be on every single network, social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to generate traffic to specific offers, get customers interested in what you're doing and actively scout (IE: you're not just posting, you're reading) out potential customers or even competitors. Large businesses have a much tougher time having a human social media presence, one that appeals to a real audience, and your advantage is that you can – as the owner – directly talk to the people you're trying to get money from. Just remember to do it honestly and with a great deal of care.
Don't Forget Traditional Networking
It's one thing to say "stay online!" which I approve of, as I'm not a huge fan of people, there is a great deal of value to getting out and going to conferences, local meetups and meeting with people in your industry. Though there's the value of closing deals and making potential business connections, there's oftentimes a benefit to simply having someone who can understand the day-to-day stresses of what you're doing. The people who are out there in your industry can also offer mentorship and guidance that you may not expect. It's unlikely your direct competitors will, but the right networking opportunity can lead to anything from a friend to direct investment. And trust me, you need both.
Develop a Good Blog
The corporate blog from businesses great and small can be tiresome and a grind to both read and write. The key is to do the right things to make good content versus assuming that everything you say is absolute gold. It really isn't. While you definitely need to write a blog connected to your company (after all, that's the whole point of this piece), you also want to create content that fosters a community around your business. A community means that, even though they're paying for the service, you've got them attached on an emotional level. They believe in not just what you're selling, but what you're doing. That's both enriching for you as the owner, and potentially profitable.