These are especially challenging times for smaller manufacturing operations. On one hand, entrepreneurialism is rampant, especially among the younger generations. Thanks to technology, it’s quicker and easier than ever for someone to start a solo business, or go into partnership with a couple friends\associates. But on the other hand, competition is fierce, and startups are going to have a major technological gulf to overcome. More startups inevitably means more failed startups as well.
Can SMBs compete with larger companies who have already invested in Industry 4.0 services and their digital ecosystems? Absolutely! Finding inexpensive ecosystem-building solutions is a start, but the real winners among the SMBs are those who are perceptive and agile. This is truly a situation where those who can work smarter will succeed.
Tips For Growth Among Smaller Businesses
1. Let the market drive decisions.
Forget “common wisdom.” Forget what the other organizations are doing. Forget about being “all things to all people.” The only thing that matters is what your market wants to see. You should have a specific micro-focus on one particular niche, demographic, under-served community, or other group where you can honestly say “We have the best solution for YOUR specific needs.” Then spend as much time as you can learning as much as you can about that market.
2. Over Prepare.
When you’re starting out and growing a business, you need to be the one who has an armload of research, while everyone else has powerpoint presentations. You need to be the one who’s the first to arrive to meetings with potential partners, and the last to walk away from networking opportunities. The more effort you put in, the more time you spend in preparation and thinking about potential outcomes that you could leverage, the more likely you are to be in a situation where that prep time will pay off.
3. Partner with the best.
Even among smaller organizations, creating an ecosystem of business partners can easily be your key to success. However, that doesn’t mean partnering with anyone who comes along. Even as a SMB, your partnerships need to be smart and strategic. Partner with the best companies you possibly can. Do your research. Create ecosystem maps to help organize your thinking. You don’t just want partners who can help you today, you want partners you can grow alongside for years to come.
Also, put yourself out there as a potential partner for larger operations. You never know when you might be in the right place, at the right time, to become part of a much bigger ecosystem and reap the benefits.