Small is the new big

Bev Hancock: Business Strategist & Team Building Specialist

Bev is a futurist who joins the dots between people, strategy and culture in the future world of work. She invites audiences to think differently and gives practical strategies for building trust, accountability and leadership into the daily fabric and leadership of the organisation.

 Ever since David and Goliath, the idea of the little guy with limited resources taking on the giant and winning, has been a popular story.  Where as the giant will always have the advantage of strength, resources and economies of scale, it is David’s agility, innovative use of everyday resources and courage to take on the impossible that give him a distinct advantage.  The digital age has presented small businesses with an unprecedented opportunity to gain competitive advantage where small and agile is an advantage.

According to Deloittes Tech Trends (2016) competitive dynamics are driving change.  Small businesses, who are not hampered by complex legacy systems, are able to innovate faster. As the demand for online and cross-border trade increases, brick and mortar businesses are losing their advantage to agile, digital, cloud-based start-ups.  More and more, consumers are using their mobile devices to communicate, market, sell and trade.  According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Kenya reports that more than half the population makes mobile payment.

So why are we not seeing small businesses rush to gain this competitive advantage?  The World Bank reports that despite these trends, only 9% of small businesses and 16% of medium sized businesses sell online.  Even in upper-middle-income countries, less than 30% of small businesses and less than 40% of medium-sized businesses sell online.

 Develop a digital mindset

There are many free tools from top technology companies who offer free digital readiness.  To slay Goliath, David had to prepare himself both mentally and physically.  You can develop this mindset by immersing yourself in the available technologies, many of them free.  Don’t just research their benefits and risks, experience them and get a clearer understanding how they can transform your business into a cross-border marketplace.

 Take advantage of scale in the cloud

When choosing his weapon, David started with what was immediately available and something he knows well.  Cloud business models often start with a basic “freemium” model which allows small business to use the technology either for free or at a limited cost.  This allows small business to gain valuable digital skills and access to limited markets.  By combining these with free social media marketing tools, businesses can achieve a substantial amount with minimal layout.  However, the aim of freemium is to upgrade customers to premium and many small businesses are resistant to paying for these services.  There does come a time however, when scaling to a premium model is good business.

 Work collaboratively to gain competitive weight

Whilst David had the courage to take on Goliath singlehandedly, there is power in numbers.  The SME mindset needs to shift from competition to collaboration to have the best long-term success against the giant.  Through connecting to collaborative economy, business do not have to be experts at everything.  Through strategic partnering, using the sharing economy, accessing smart platforms and engaging with the SME ecosystem, business can overcome some of the traditional barriers to entry.

Small businesses need access to digital financial, technological and logistical tools that can help them enter global markets. Through partnership, we can make these tools more accessible.

Sonny Fisher, CEO of FORUS who launched the public utility blockchain digital exchange in Port Elizabeth recently believes that, “Through collaboration, we can democratise access to mobile commerce capabilities, expand access to affordable financing and equip businesses with the tools needed to compete on the global stage.” To achieve this, we need more Davids.

Bev Hancock – Speaker, Strategist and Leadership Coach at Unique Speaker Bureau


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