How to apply big business thinking to your small business
There’s a saying in business, ‘Dress for the role you want, not the role you have’. And the same can be said of the overall vision and outlook you have for your business as a whole.
If you think small, you’ll stay small. One way to overcome this can be to apply the thinking, drive and mindset of a big business organisation to your smaller, but aspirational, organisation.
You may be small at the moment, but if you apply the strategy, processes and scalability of big business to your enterprise, you’re setting solid foundations for your short-term expansion, longer-term growth and overall profitability.
How then, do you apply a big business mentality to your small business?
What we mean by big business thinking?
Big business and larger corporate organisations have a clear advantage over small business, both when it comes to economies of scale and the market reach and footprint they can achieve. While focusing on growing the top line, whether through new products or new markets, they are, or at least should, always be thinking about how they optimize or save money in how they operate.
As part of this reach and thinking, big business has been ahead of the game in terms of outsourcing (moving internal functions to an external provider) and offshoring (moving internal functions to locations with lower costs).
So big business has the scale, structure and strategy to think big and to deliver on its key goals – and that’s not just about spending less and making better margins.
The cost misconception
It is a common misconception that outsourcing and offshoring are about saving costs, pure and simple.
Reducing costs is certainly one of the key factors in any outsourcing or offshoring decision, but it’s certainly not the only factor. It’s also to do with centralization (moving certain elements of the business to one central hub), which then drives specialization – which in turn can enable better quality, control and efficiencies.
Why does this matter? If you’re carrying out similar tasks or functions in multiple places, this can be both risky and costly. Hence, one of the core reasons for looking at outsourcing or offshoring can also be about investing in more efficient processes, less risky procedures and more streamlined production and delivery.
In short, it’s about doing things better: and what sensible business owner wouldn’t want to do that?
A drive for increasing efficiency
Restructuring, reorganising and rethinking the delivery of your business model are naturally far more common in the world of big business.
Most larger organisations are constantly looking for innovative ways to improve their overall efficiency to provide management with both increased control and a more effective set of drivers with which to manage a business of scale.t
Improved control and efficiency that specialization can deliver are vital in many ways:
- You may be looking to make an acquisition or enter a new market and need to know you’re running a tight ship before taking on board new business to ensure it doesn’t also introduce new risk.
- If you’re taking on investment or looking to become a listed public company, the expectations, regulations and controls that are needed are far tighter, so working on the business’ internal functions becomes business critical.
- Managing cash flow is a fundamental reason that businesses of all sizes either succeed or fail. Running a tight ship enables you to have the insight and control to make the right decisions at the right time, and be agile in how you operate and deploy resources.
This level of focus encompasses all the ideals and forward thinking of a big business mindset. But increasingly, such large-scale thinking isn’t reserved just for larger organisations.
Outsourcing that’s available to all
We live and trade in a globalized world and, despite some of the current headlines, I for one believe the growth of integrated international markets, especially around services, will only grow, rather than contract.
The global service marketplaces is going to continue to feel smaller and more accessible, whether it’s working with skilled IT developers in the Ukraine or Vietnam, or client centric customer support staff in Costa Rica or the Philippines. Accessibility of the internet, and ever reducing costs of cloud software tools have opened up service specialisms worldwide, and that’s changing the rule book every day for so many organisations.
How does this affect you as a small business owner? In short, it offers you a path to leverage skills and specialization at a cost that’s now within reach and which has the potential to have a huge impact on the success of your business.
Specialization is more open and available to everyone with a good internet connection, an open mind and an outlook that’s not limited by a resistance to change. Big businesses have built offshoring operations for themselves in a bid to create more efficient and effective business models. This kind of opportunity is now within reach for so many more.
Outsourcing is now an ever-improving and rapidly growing business sector, run by large operators with big scale and value for money pricing. What that means is that outsourcing more and more can meet the needs of businesses of any size.
It’s no longer about contracting one freelancer to run your marketing, it’s about specialization and outsourcing your marketing function to a provider that has the people, the skillset and the reach to take on the management and delivery of that whole area of your business.
What are the key challenges to overcome?
If you’re an aspirational small business that’s got big plans for the future, outsourcing specific elements of your business can add incredible value.
So what are the barriers that could potentially stop you achieving this goal?
For many small businesses, time, rather than dollars is your biggest enemy. There’s a fundamental need to invest time to ultimately save time. You’ve got to do your homework, review your internal functions and research the markets to find the outsourcing solutions that fit the bill.
Importantly, you’ve also got to look for the true benefits (the value of the service) for the business, rather than simply going for the cheapest resource and best cost saving – as already mentioned it’s not just about saving money, and you need to carefully consider the hidden costs as well as opportunities.
Failing to invest the time, and to consider your options, will leave you stuck in the trap of continuing to ‘do what you do’, rather than streamlining the business and focusing on continuing to grow.
Think big, and grow more quickly
If you’re going to make outsourcing work for your small business, sit down and consider the possible benefits of engaging a team of specialists rather than hiring and managing an internal team to achieve the same goal. This may include:
- Reducing retention risk, by getting a whole team and not just an individual.
- Getting deeper domain expertise by engaging a team of genuine experts in their field.
- Obtaining a greater understanding and implementation of technology into your business, by working with people who have deep knowledge in the right solutions.
- Getting to focus on managing performance, but not everything else that goes with hiring an employee – freeing up your time for more strategic tasks.
- That you may also find you can do the job cheaper – but have this at bottom of your consideration list.
At Stepping Stone, we’ve worked in companies or all shapes and size, across different corners of the globe. In now being focused on global small businesses, we understand not only your challenges, but also your opportunities in the global marketplace.
Please feel free to get in touch, if you want to start thinking more about working with domain experts in our field to help you stay focused on growth.