Home' Border Enterprise : Spring Summer 2010-2011 Contents enterprise
the big fish
Insider secrets for upstarts and minnows
STATISTICS are a stark reminder of just
how hard it is to keep a business afloat.
Forty-two per cent fail in the first
four years, according to the Australian
Bureau of Statistics. So, for a small
business, competing with the big fish may seem
like mission impossible.
But underdog status has its virtues. For one
thing, fair go-fixated Aussies love underdogs.
For another, in accordance with Hollywood
scripts, upstarts do over-deliver --- look no
farther than the feats of New Zealand's world
cup "All Whites" and Ghana's "Black Stars".
If you think that the two teams just got lucky,
take a look at a selection of nitty-gritty tips on
how to raise your game. Even if you run your
business from a box room on the back of a
broadband connection, with rigour and guile
you could still make a splash, and become a
So, read on, have a go. And never forget
how lucky you are to be free from all those
big company expenses: comfy office chairs,
bonuses, pensions, plus -- worst of all -- salaries
for staff who refuse to retire but effectively quit
How to punch above
your weight: six secrets
1. FOCUS ON FOCUS
According to the director of new ventures
incubator Pollenizer, Mick Liubinskas, to
compete with big business you must tackle one
area: the threat of dilution. In his view, the secret
of building a business with heft is focus. A giant
rival may beat you on scope, but, if you focus, it
cannot match your ability to get things done.
Keep products simple. A lean and focused
operation puts you in a position to thrive.
According to Liubinskas, a plus of a focused
approach is that you become easier to buy.
2. COME CLEAN
Irrespective of any hopes you harbour about
being bought out, resist the temptation to
exaggerate your size. Be honest, says strategist
Barry Maher, because Milly's Carpet Cleaning
can be just as effective as a conglomerate
claiming to be "agile, personal, friendly,
service-oriented": classic small business
traits. According to Maher, you can tackle
whatever job comes up if you have a network of
associates ready to act fast and flexibly address
Lower overheads help keep prices down.
3. GET A GO-TO GUY
Forget about trying to generate mass publicity
the way giants do.
Instead, Maher suggests, think local. Enlist the
face of your firm to act as the neighbourhood
go-to guy or gal for the press. Build local
prominence on search engines and in social
4. PRACTISE RAPID REACTION
However prominent you get, you must act
fast. According to business coach Robert
Gerrish, the ability to get on the case without
bureaucratic obstruction is a key edge. Use
it, Gerrish urges. Follow through. Do not let
emails fester, as corporations do. "We can be
responsive and we can be personal and jump
on things that we feel are priorities," he says.
5. EXPRESS AND EXPERIMENT
Image now is about much more than clothes,
Gerrish says, adding that your website must
express your identity. Go for depth and integrity.
In the 'about us' section, where many
businesses plonk stock shots of a spectrum
of smiling models, describe your people and
history. Be a "real" company instead of a big
one, and innovate. Try new tools.
Gerrish highlights the presentational impact
that an iPad can make.
6. LOG OFF
Reduce your reliance on the internet. Instead
of playing five or six rounds of email tennis, pick
up the phone, Gerrish says. Suggest meeting
for coffee, he adds, stressing the need to be
touchy-feely, which banks have grasped. After
focusing on online branding, banks are opening
more strip shop branches, it seems. The reason:
customers want old-school conversations -- a
Vol 3. Summer/Autumn
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