The goal of every small business (or at least the vast majority) is to grow to become a large company with a steady stream of revenue and room and willingness to grow. In order for this to be possible, they first have to take on established players in their industry, carve a niche for themselves and then make all the right moves to slowly expand, get stronger and take on even more.
In the past, small businesses had very little help in their corner, throwing punches in the hope that one or two might land and give them some more room to breathe and grow. Over the last two decades and especially over the last couple of years, this has changed dramatically. SMBs nowadays have various technological advances levelling the playing field to an extent and making them more competitive.
New Software Pricing Models
There are two reasons why most people do not consider pricing models such as Software-as-a-Service a part of this story. For one, it really does seem unimportant at first. A pricing model making a huge difference for anyone? Also, most people struggle to see a change in the way small companies pay for their software as a particularly technological development.
Well, it is both extremely important and it is a technological development.
The reason why it is primarily achievement of new technologies is the fact that software does not have to be purchased physically and installed directly on individual computers that an SMB uses. Instead, thanks to the development of cloud technology and hitherto unimaginable internet speeds, SMBs can now “rent out” software, as they would a service.
The reason why this is so important is that this allows smaller companies to gain access to software solutions that used to be out of their price range. A piece of software that could never fit their budget in the past is now available at a fraction of those prices. With improved customer service (once again enabled by remote communication technologies), SMBs can also better get a handle on new software, enabling them to achieve results without hiring specialized professionals.
All of a sudden, a company with 25 employees has access to the same kind of software that a corporation with 10,000 employees uses. It is a spectacular equalizer.
All the Data
In many parts of the world, there is this image of a savvy SMB owner who always trusts his or her gut feeling and who knows when it is the right time to make which move. Besides the fact that in reality such moves more often misfire than hit the target, we have to understand that this Mythical SMB Owner came to life because they had no other way to react. All they had was their experience and their “feel for the game”.
While data analytics has been a part of big business for a while and while the use of business intelligence in telecom industry and similar industries dominated by large companies has been a staple; for smaller companies, access to data and the tools to analyze it have traditionally been limited, to say the least.
This has also changed due to a combination of various technological advances such as increased internet speeds, galloping computation powers of your average computer, the insane everyday production of data, and the aforementioned novel pricing models.
Today, you can easily find data analytics tools that are tailored to smaller companies with limited budgets. With so many data points being available even to the smallest companies and with easy-to-use analytics tools, SMBs have finally entered the data game, finally being able to base their major decisions on data patterns and trends.
Perhaps the biggest paradigm-changer for smaller companies has been the way in which the internet has shrunk the world for them. While it is true it has also made their lives more complicated by bringing the big players to even the remotest, smallest towns; internet has also made the world closer to small businesses.
For example, just 15 years ago, an SMB could never dream of having anything but the most local reach when it came to their marketing. They were relegated to the tiniest media outlets and reaching out to people in their neighborhood, perhaps their city. Today, a two-person design studio from a 2,000 people town in Portugal can put up a video on YouTube that can easily reach a potential client in New Zealand (provided they know a thing or two about marketing).
Besides the fact that customers are now closer than ever, so is the talent. Whereas SMBs in the past had very limited choice in talent, today, that aforementioned Portuguese design studio can hire an app developer from South Korea in order to develop their latest app. New technologies allow small companies to compete for top talent no matter where it is and to grow thanks to that great talent.
Simply put, having the right people makes an SMB more competitive.
We could go for days on the different ways in which new technologies help SMBs compete with big players. We could segment the aforementioned paradigm shifts into individual advancements and effects, but it would take far too much time and space.
The important thing is that major changes are happening and SMBs are better off for it.