3 Laws for success: Why the small business can win
There was a time just a few years ago when there were long lists of no-noes and must-haves for small businesses and startups. Common in the must-have list was having a genuine postal address on show in sales literature, business cards and on the company website. A geographic phone number also featured highly, as did an email address with a proper domain (firstname.lastname@example.org just didn’t send the right impression).
The elements of a business on public show were always designed to portray a professional outfit, one that was all but indiscernible from a larger, more established business. The landline and domain name gave certain messages: reliability and security.
In 2021, some of those historic prerequisites have waned in importance, while others remain must-haves. After all, how many business cards got exchanged in the last twelve months? Meanwhile, you may well have invested in a paid video meeting account. Next year, the priorities could be different.
The last twelve months has shaken all these previous “givens.” Big businesses may still have large, city-center offices, but they’re at least partially empty and will remain so. The playing field for businesses and organisations is now almost entirely online — and that’s great for the smaller players, the freelancers and the startups.
A digital-only marketplace is a much more egalitarian trading place than a physical one. Customers for all manner of goods and services seek the human touch, not the glossy impersonal sheen of the multinationals. Your company is just a click or tap away from a household name provider, so what can you do to make hay while the silicon sun shines?
Big Digital is Bad, Small Human is Good
During lockdown, even big businesses and organisations seemed to struggle to piece together the basics of phone diversions, reliable video conferencing and keeping their website up to date with the latest changes to services.
This seeming lack of ability to adapt and continue to provide goods and services presents small businesses, micro-businesses and single freelance operators opportunities to out-compete multi-million-pound companies.
Now is a time that presents significant advantages to small outfits: Just by following our just and good laws, 100% of the time, a small business can upend a market. In fact, when that happens, we call it disruption!
As a media company that works with some of the world’s biggest technology companies, and hundreds of small organisations across the world, we are in a unique position to be able to present three laws to live by:
The First Law: Use voice communications to make a professional first impression
This is the simplest and most effective way that technology is on your side. Get a digital business phone line (e.g. VoIP solution) with a local fixed geographic phone number. Choose one that allows you to set up your business hours, an out-of-hours professional greeting, offers hold music and call menus to match the calling experience of the multi-nationals.
Why the law is a good and just law: When you call a business, do you want to call a mobile number and do you like waiting with no professional greeting, no hold message and nobody answering? No. So, answer the phone when your customers call, provide a professional greeting and be alerted to any out-of-hours messages so you can respond ASAP.
The Second Law: Make sure you can work remotely without any disruption
Many small businesses use their mobiles to work remotely and have no access to their fixed business phone lines. With a digital phone system, you can make and receive calls from anywhere on any device seamlessly. And you can manage your phone settings on the fly, such as editing business hours and greetings within a few clicks or taps.
Why the law is a good and just law: In 2021, building in seamless business continuity features just makes sense. Having peace of mind doesn’t need to be overcomplex or costly but you’ll always be glad you have those features when needed!
The Third Law: Leverage data to gain an edge
Use technology that provides actionable insights from your operational data to understand and optimise your efforts. Do so while building a competitive advantage over rivals left in the dark — that’s what the big brands are doing. With the right tools, it’s easy for micro-businesses.
Why the law is a good and just law: Analysing and implementing insights from information gathered by your digital solutions doesn’t need to be complicated. Start small and (for example) use call density reporting to identify peak times, missed and dropped calls and make changes that will help you achieve success.
Bonus Law: Be proud to be as small as you are.
Large enterprises talk a great deal about “personalised service” and “positive customer experiences,” two aspects of business that are difficult to achieve at scale. A small business with trustworthy credentials and an honest digital presence is already ahead of the game in this respect.
Why the law is a good and just law: Your customers and clients like to buy from and talk to you — a named individual with a personality, a life, opinions, and, we trust, the required goods or expertise. That’s a combination the multinationals can’t offer.
Getting the basics right in business in 2021 is quite different from doing so in 2010. Some of the must-haves on a small company’s list remain — like basic communications — but with many prospective clients actively turned off by the corporate sheen (read: an impersonal, third-rate service), the time for the micro-business is now.
To get the basics right, start with comms and internet presence. Look for a provider that can present your small company to the world reliably and with integrity: technology choices cover the first three Laws. The Bonus Law is down to behaviour, attitude and personal drive — and no one can really legislate for those.
To circle back to the technology, in conclusion, pro-level comms platforms don’t have to come with pro-level price tags. For small businesses, micro-businesses and single freelance operators in the UK, we suggest bOnline as your first research point for voice and phone. Like your business, it’s staffed by real-life human beings who answer calls and offer affordable services.
Keep checking back here, too: a later article in this series will consider the ramifications of landlines’ seeming demise in the UK, and we’ll focus more on providers like bOnline that are filling the gap for a new generation of would-be disruptors. Until then, follow the Laws, for they are good and just.