Businesses come in various shapes and structures, from large multinational corporations to small businesses. Where a global company has a team and an army of providers for every single operation that needs doing, whether it’s administrative or IT-related, small businesses have to rely on a do-it-yourself approach. It’s precisely this DIY culture that differentiates how business owners feel. More often than not, business owners who need to roll up their sleeves to get things done experience a sense of shame in comparison to larger companies who just need to call the appropriate team manager to sort out issues. Ultimately, the consensus is that if you have to do it yourself then it can’t be a real business, and more importantly you can’t compete with bigger companies in terms of professionalism. But the reasoning behind this assumption is flawed. More often than not, DIY doesn’t mean you can’t be just as professional and effective as other companies. In fact, it might even weigh in your favor, as at least you can micromanage all essential operational strategies in your company. The important question you want to ask, as a small business owner, is the following: Can you make the most of your DIY approach to compete against big brands at a professional level? You’ll be pleased to know that the answer to the question is: Yes, you can, and here’s how it works.
The difference between self-made and made yourself
First of all, it’s important to understand that you shouldn’t feel small when you compare yourself against the CEOs of larger companies. You will find that a lot of people like to describe their success as self-made, so it is natural to hope that your DIY approach might, one day, turn you into a self-made man or woman at the head of a business. Let’s get real: Nobody is self-made. As everyone is the combination of the contributions of friends, family and education, it would be foolish to pretend that you need more of that so-called self-made assurance to turn your small business into a success. If you’re learning new lessons from your surrounding regularly and improving your skills and strategy, you’ve got exactly what it takes to grow your business. Similarly, believing that your DIY business skills are all you need to establish your leadership on personal glorification – which is the main issue with the self-made men – is a mistake that will harm your business in the long term. The truth is simple: As a small business owner, you will need to take some matters into your own hands because you lack resources. While there is no shame in growing your skills to run your business, it doesn’t give you the right to build an illusion of grandeur. Inspirational leaders, from Bill Gates to Richard Branson, have established their position through DIY learning and thanks to the contributions of their circles of friends, relatives, advisors, mentors, etc. Being aware of where the influence in your business decision, strategy and mission comes from it key to maintain a balanced structure as you grow. The bottom line is simple: Give credit where credit is due so that you can evolve gracefully and effectively from a DIY position.
You’ve got something that big companies lack: you can get personal
When you interact with large companies, it’s not uncommon to find that the customer relationship feels a little cold and stereotyped, however effective it might be. Customers receive an email with their order confirmation, and the delivery turns up on time too. But somehow everything feels as if you were talking to a robot. The most obvious evidence of this is when you try to troubleshoot a tech gadget over the phone. How many customer service agents still takes every customer through the same lines of dialogue and checks, regardless of what the customer is saying.
“Hello, my broadband connection is down.”
“Have you tried to switch the router off and on again?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Can we check if your laptop has got its WifI settings activated too?”
No, dear customer service, no we can’t, because as each customer is an individual, they would love to receive the respect they’re due, and that includes listening to what they have to say and providing the appropriate solution, instead of sticking to a script. Going off-script is precisely what got the Ritz-Carlton hotel a lot of positive attention when the staff created a vacation story for a stuffed toy forgotten by a customer’s son. Why did it work so well? Because it promotes the brand while bringing people together. Personal touches can go a long way! As a small business, you’ve got more opportunities to add the essential personal touch in your customer service activities. With a smaller client base, you can send personal thank-you notes with each purchase – or introduce the habit to your warehouse team – for example. It’s simple but it remind your customer that you treat them as individuals, and that makes a great deal of difference.
Small but secure business is better than big and under threat
In October 2017, Google has set a deadline for website owners to move to a secure HTTPS format. For the last year, Google has been marking sites that collect personal data, or credit card data while still using the non-secure HTTP site. As a result, warning emails were sent over summer 2017 to prepare to offer web users an SSL certificate. If you’ve received one of Google’s warning notification and haven’t yet acted on it, here’s a good guide to follow to migrate your WordPress site to HTTPS. You’d be surprised to know that a lot of large companies still haven’t made the move to full secure pages. Why so? Because, with large companies, each decision can take a lot of time, depending on how many people need to be involved. It’s likely that such a simple switch would involve the board of shareholder, the partners, the investors and the managers of all teams who rely on online data before being passed to the relevant IT department. As a result, big businesses can be under threat while you’ve already protected your customer data. As a small business owner, you need to pay close attention to the protection of your data and your customer privacy, because you’re unfortunately an easy target for hackers. Indeed, cyber criminals hone their skills with small businesses before they decide to move to bigger targets. The reason for it? Hackers expect you to take security matters lightly as a consequence of your small size. Prove them wrong!
Emotional hacks that big companies can’t pull off
As a rule of the thumb, you’re more likely to come across poor relationships in the workplace in large companies where it can be tricky to monitor the effectiveness of each management style. As a result, work performance can be turned into a competitive game where each employee tries to outsmart colleagues instead of working together. This competitiveness is often the result of poor management that set staff against each other. Additionally, big structures don’t always take the time to take feedback on board, making their employees feel ignored and devalued. In a small business, you can build a better relationship with your employees and make the most of your emotional intelligence. Indeed, the “me factor” is much more significant in a small company, where everyone feels like they personally matter to the overall business. As people feel more important within their company, they can also engage better with the business mission and statement. Seeing the meaning of every action and how it can lead to success increases personal engagement with the business. In a large structure, the meaning of each task can be lost through the manager’s communication, or simply the addition of non-relevant activities.
Go viral like no big brand can
As a small business, you’re the creator of a small brand that you get to represent. More often than not, a business owner embodies the brand they’ve established, regardless of the size of the company. Just like Steve Jobs was the face of Apple, you can be the face of your business. But you’ve got an advantage that Steve Jobs didn’t have: You can bring your personality as a part of your communication strategy. Jobs, unfortunately, was the man who gave Apple its direction and mission. But he wasn’t the personality of the computer and IT devices manufacturer. Consequently, if he were still alive today, he wouldn’t be able to create a viral phenomenon based on his personality only. But you can, by learning tips from the most successful vloggers. Vloggers have made their personality their main earning tool, sharing who they are with their followers as a way to build an audience and generate revenues. Similarly, you can follow the advice of Casey Neistat and use your life as a narrative for your business. Making the most of the DIY approach, you can get closer to your audience and create an original twist to your marketing strategy.
Ultimately, small business rock. The DIY approach is not just a sign of low resources. It also means that you’re more motivated to make it work than large companies. More importantly, doing it yourself means that you can create a better connection with your customers, your employees and your market audience while making sure that every necessary protection is established.