In my experience, the best small businesses use their natural agility to out-serve and out-manoeuvre larger more stable and more structured competitors. This requires an obsession with understanding what customers truly want and value. This of course is constantly changing as the world around customers changes. Large well-staffed incumbents often assume that what worked in the past and "the way we do things around here" will continue to work in the future. Challenging this is what enables small disruptors to create an exciting new normal. New businesses that maintain this obsession and constantly look for customer problems to solve, will in my experience find opportunities that others miss or are too slow to grab. Having the confidence to then invest in their growth ensures this is sustainable. However, as they grow and need to add new people and build their own processes and disciplines, the challenge is to ensure they don't become the bureaucratic, "stuck in their ways" incumbents themselves and free the path for further new entrants. This requires them to be careful in hiring people with similar values and work ethics to the founding team and thinking hard about getting the right balance between structure and control to support a scaling business less able to co-ordinate informally, and flexibility/freedom to do the right thing to ensure ongoing agility.
What makes your product or service useful to the person you are selling to? There is a real focus currently on unique selling points, however, if the product is unique, clever, and innovative but not useful to the person you are pitching to, they may be impressed, but they are unlikely to buy it. Unique is great but useful is vital, so make sure you do your research on why it will specifically help them.
An entrepreneur's ability to remain curious allows them to continuously seek new opportunities, learn/unlearn and keep innovating.
2. Collaboration over competition
Two brains are better than one and once you start brainstorming and sharing ideas with like-minded people, the sky is the limit in terms of creative ideas and achieving goals.
Humility strengthens self-image while simultaneously helping tone down the unhealthy ego.
C.S Lewis said it right -
'True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.'
1) How my "Big plans" years later would seem small because we often underestimate our ability to achieve. Dream Big! When I started FABRIC I was aiming to create a job for myself that I could do for the rest of my working career that wasn't in statutory social work. I didn't know what an entrepreneur was I was simply trying to find a way to have a job where I was making the difference I wanted to young people in need. 6 years after we opened and I am applying for funding to create a franchise model so that young people across the UK and potentially globally can benefit from our model.
2) The power of numbers- yep the self-confessed word lover now places huge value on the power of numbers. When I started FABRIC I had a business partner who was an accountant and I left all things numbers to them. I leaned away from what I didn't like and essentially gave all my power away. Knowing the figures in your business can be as powerful as the difference between succeeding or going insolvent. I am now the sole shareholder and director of my business, knowing the numbers enables me to answer questions confidently when applying for funding, feel strong in my day-to-day management of the business and helps me make even bigger plans! P.s get a great accountant, one you connect with and one who empowers you to understand the finances of your business. If they don't have time to help you understand- go elsewhere!
3) That business is a rollercoaster and not just over a year, sometimes it's daily and even hourly. Understanding and expecting this has enabled me to flow with the challenges. The business rollercoaster is challenging at times but don't fall into the trap of feeling you need to hustle, 16hr work days don't do anything positive for you or your business. When the rollercoaster is tough, make more time for self-care not less. Over time the peaks and troughs get less high and low and you learn to ride the wave. "The sweet ain't so sweet without the sour"- take time to look in the rearview mirror and at what you've surpassed!