Small players, entrepreneurs, startups – their time has come. In today’s consumer market, flexibility, creativity and innovation pay dividends. Micro businesses are quietly stepping up to the plate and delivering surprising results that leave their big brand competitors trailing behind.
Here are some ways that people are changing the business landscape by embracing new business models and ideas. Could you be one of them?
They breed product evangelists
In the world of commerce there is an undeniable link between how your product or service is perceived by customers and whether or not they go on to recommend you to others. This is the essence of the holy grail that is the ‘promoter economy’ – where your offering is so desirable that once the ball gets rolling, your customers do a lot of the marketing for you. And, innovative micro businesses are winning the ‘word of mouth’ game by giving customers unique, memorable and compelling experiences and products.
Successful micro businesses come along and change the game by changing how their customers think about a product.
Word of mouth is one of the oldest forms of marketing, and when it happens it’s also the most powerful. Up and coming businesses cannot afford to ignore this incredibly effective method of generating brand evangelists. The instantaneous nature of social media and the online world is accelerating the word of mouth process and spreading it far and wide.
One of the best things that small businesses can do to harness this trend is to make it as easy as possible for users to discuss products and get excited about them, through forums, comments, reviews, videos and social shares.
They are revolutionizing tech
Technology is a thriving, lucrative market that’s being propelled by big and small businesses alike. As ‘smart’ products become more in demand across a range of industries, from health and education to vehicles and gaming, those with the knowhow to fill tech product niches are steaming ahead.
Small businesses are often far more flexible than the giants they rub shoulders with. They are open to innovation and unafraid to try out new things – technology, strategies, ways of working. A lot of new small businesses are also fairly young, powered by a workforce of digital natives and forward thinkers.
For small tech companies this is a very exciting time. They can quietly and industriously work away at refining their next great product, before revealing it to the world. Some examples of micro businesses who are currently making huge strides – though you may not have heard of them (yet) – include Skydio, Jet, Luxe and Vinli.
They build relationships with their customers
If there’s one thing that startups and micro businesses are painfully aware of, it’s how valuable their customers are. As small companies, they can’t afford to take them for granted – unlike the giants who see thousands of customers every day.
- Effective customer relationship management (CRM) is the cornerstone of success for a micro business, and it helps promote customer loyalty and evangelism.
- Operating through social media and other platforms, the smaller scale of micro businesses makes it easier for them to personalize and hone their approach to customers and make them feel more valued. It is this ongoing relationship and open, human communication that makes for fiercely loyal customers who will come back to the company again and again.
They embrace corporate social responsibility
Today’s consumers are not as they once were. For many of them it is not only about products and services, but also about the brand and what it stands for. We live in a world where we need to think about the implications of our consumption, and whether it’s creating a positive impact or a negative one.
Many micro businesses really engage with the notion of strong corporate social responsibility. Indeed for some it’s one of their USPs – for example, brands like UK cosmetics success Lush make a big deal out of non-animal testing and veganism, and therefore have a strong appeal to customers who want ethical cosmetics.
This kind of mindset is very empowering for customers, as we all want to support businesses that reflect our own personal values. Having a powerful corporate social responsibility policy breeds empathy and trust, and it’s the willingness of many micro businesses to embrace this side of themselves that is leading several of them to success.
They target niches
Small businesses thrive on having a well-defined niche. They cannot hope to compete with the all-encompassing giants of commerce who seemingly sell everything. But with a niche business, small companies position themselves as specialists. This is important, as customers who really care about a product will often rather buy from a specialist that a generic, all-encompassing supplier. (And not only that, but they expect to pay a premium price for the perceived expertise. The opposite is true of a broad supplier).
Quirky, niche businesses like video game bars and cafe/laundromat combos are carving out success for themselves in a crowded marketplace by narrowing their focus. In doing so they earn the love and loyalty of their audience, and they thrive.
Anyone can do it
Starting a new business is possible for more and more people because of the way that technology is evening out the playing field – bringing more diversity and creativity into businesses.
- People who have never come across a line of code in their lives can now start an online store using dropshipping and a decent CMS. People who have a passion for something can start teaching online and design their own courses. Digital opportunities are endless, and new digital businesses are helping to support more and more people realize their dreams.
- Digital tools also help micro businesses and retailers on the ground. Using digital tools like Xero and iZettle for accounting and payments make the financial side of things much simpler and stop people from being held back.
Are you involved in a micro business? How are you changing the game? Tell us what you’ve learned below.
Passionate about writing for the startup and entrepreneurial audience, I have recently been part of setting up an exciting project at MicroStartups.org. We donate all our website profits to charities that help people reach their full potential. Find out more on Twitter.