Size and longevity bring plentiful resources.  A solid commercial reputation, a large and skilled workforce and deep pockets are just some of the strongholds that big business has over its smaller peers.

When you’re a start-up or an SME, competing with large and established organisations can be daunting.

The advantages of being an SME.

However, there are plenty of advantages to being an SME. Here are just some of the ways that start-up and scaleup businesses can trump their larger competitors.

Small = agile.

Your size IS attractive to top talent. The pandemic levelled the playing field when it came to flexibility and agility.  In many SMEs, the business leader is the key decision-maker and often works on the front line.  This structure removes ‘red tape’ thinking and the layers of bureaucracy which allow agile movement.

The pandemic required businesses to pivot quickly, often into a business model they hadn’t planned for.  Not only did this ability allow many small firms to remain profitable in the short term, but it also took businesses down fascinating routes they may not have considered. And if this applies to you, you are probably richer as a result.

Small = flexible.

SMEs are able to accommodate the needs of their workforce in a way that large firms aren’t. Top talent has come to prize a healthy work-life balance over salary and monetary benefits. The flexibility, creativity, and autonomy that small firms can offer outweigh the restrictive processes of the corporates.

Small = invested.

Without layers of cover to shield you and your team from accountability, your size requires you to be more invested in the products and services you are selling. This person-first approach means that you, and those you employ, are more committed to delivering a first-class service that warrants word-of-mouth recommendations and 5-star reviews.

And the “investment” doesn’t stop there.

The ‘wearing of many hats’, and the can-do mindset that’s necessitated by SME structures create a culture where everyone is able to do everything. This creates a culture of inclusion and employee buy-in. Everyone feels empowered and committed to the work. This common goal motivates and drives your SME team. Not only are you in a great position to compete with large businesses, but to win.

Small = knowledgeable.

In an SME your senior team is likely to come into contact with their junior colleagues every day.  This means that this knowledge and skills are quickly transferred.  Before long, your team will be subject matter experts and able to respond to any issues without supervision.

How can SMEs compete with big business?

Here are some ideas for SMEs to compete with big business.

Highlight your size.

Use all the benefits of being an SME to your advantage. By highlighting these on your corporate website and across your social media you’ll be in a great position to attract top talent to your organisation.

The pandemic changed the requirements of employees. Flexibility, autonomy, inclusivity and learning and development are now the benefits that sway most job seekers. Your size means that you are in a great position to offer these.

For more tips on how SMEs can boost team morale and keep them engaged, read our recent blog.

Customers too are favouring the “local”, and are enjoying the personal touch that SMEs can offer. Knowledge and personalised service are satisfying the desire for a bespoke service and a great customer experience.

an african american candidate is being interviewed by two young professional women

Embrace tech and digital.

Tech is a great leveller and evens out the playing field. It allows small companies to extend their reach and perform services that compete with the offerings of large organisations.  By using social networks to raise brand awareness, SMEs can present themselves to a global audience.

Data also powers smaller businesses and offers an opportunity for growth. Business digitisation has enabled SMEs to collect, monitor and analyse their data to a degree that now data is one of a business’s most valuable assets.

By combining data science with targeted marketing and speed to market, smaller businesses can give global organisations a run for their money.

Have a strong digital presence.

Often the first instance of customer interaction occurs online. In this digital-first marketplace, a robust set of digital channels are crucial. Some investment in your website and a supporting app will go a long way in ensuring you are a contender.

You’ll need a slick, UX focused website and digital products that allow your user to move seamlessly across all your channels.

Create a ‘Big Brand’ presence.

This requires you to establish and communicate your mission, vision, and values.  Once these are in place, SMEs must shout about them to let consumers and job seekers know what you’re all about.

By highlighting them on your corporate website, living these on your social media and using your social value behaviours to demonstrate what you stand for.

Advertising and growing your employer brand will attract customers and help secure top talent.  Yours becomes an attractive place to work and ensures that your loyal employees have the desire to remain with you for the long term.

Hire the best.

Adding the best talent to your team will give it a boost. Skilled, experienced, and energetic professionals will come with the drive, and ideas to innovate and take the company forward.

Attracting the best talent isn’t all about the budget.  Creating a brand that lives its ethical and social values, delivers on flexible working and autonomy, and prioritises work-life balance, will draw all help SMEs compete on the big stage.

Is your SME looking for tech and digital professionals?

Our network is crammed with people that will use tech, digital and data solutions to push your SME forward.  Whether you are looking to amp up your website with incredible UX, a social media marketeer who can propel your digital presence or a data analyst to deliver invaluable insights we can help.

For more information on how we can help you

Reach out today.

About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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