Big businesses have been through the gauntlet of unstable early days and tumultuous seasons to achieve high growth, high employee counts, and high ROIs. They’ve already put in the time and resources to come up with processes and strategies that work for them. Small businesses are a different entity, often with more limitations, but a smart company can “steal” ideas to suit its own needs and fuel growth.
Our company has taken a lot of ideas from big tech companies such as Google and Facebook. For example, Google’s respect for employees’ personal well-being and autonomy inspired our policies on time off, office layout, and leniency. We try to make our office the best place to work in order to retain and grow our people — just like the big tech players do. Of course, we can’t provide our own campus with a free cafeteria. But by using the resources we do have to communicate a similar message that we appreciate our employees, we’ve been able to retain and build a solid team of people.
Scaling Down Big Business Secrets
It’s not hard to find information on what the big companies are doing. Many of them are proud of what makes them different and blast it all over the internet in blogs, interviews, and articles. A number of founders have also written excellent books or have recommended reading lists that can help you understand their tactics at a deeper level.
What’s key is identifying strategies that can be scaled down to effectively work for a small business. What works for a multinational corporation won’t work for a company with 10 people in one office. When first adopting big business processes, it will be hard to predict what might work for your company. As you work toward improvements, don’t be afraid of a little trial and error. You can’t know for sure what works until you implement it. If something does not work, simply pull back and reassess. But if you do nothing, you will never see growth.
With that in mind, here are five big business strategies that small businesses can implement right now:
1. Have a clear and concise company culture.
When big companies onboard team members, the new hires know exactly what culture they’re getting into; it’s easier for new hires to absorb a culture when it is all around them and has many team members reinforcing it. But this fluency can be achieved no matter the company’s size. Make sure your company’s values are clearly listed and laid out for everyone to see on a daily basis. Live by them with your words and your actions, and make a point of communicating cultural expectations even during interviews. This allows every candidate to know and understand what they’re getting into.
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2. Hire for personality.
Google has the means to recruit the best developers, but it hires for personality. When building a team, focus on how well an individual fits within the culture. Even the best developer can hurt a company if he or she causes dissension or complains about the company’s direction. After all, you can teach a skill, but you can’t train for personality.
3. Automate as much as possible.
Big companies are crazy about efficiency because every minute or dollar lost in a process is multiplied many times over. But small businesses have fewer people trying to do vast amounts of work with more limited resources. There’s no time or money to waste on repetitive tasks. Automate marketing through email drips. Small businesses can also automate the sales process by creating bots on LinkedIn that generate interest from qualified prospects. Automation helps small businesses spend less money and change more quickly, creating efficiencies in much the same way larger companies already have.
4. Reinvest in people.
Large companies continuously reinvest and aren’t afraid to make less of a profit in the short term or even lose money if it means moving the company forward and growing. You should always be reinvesting in your company and your vision, and talent is the most valuable asset — especially at a small company. When I reinvest, I hire people who can enhance our company’s growth, whether they bring a new skill set that we can monetize, they have new marketing ideas, or they create efficiencies. People can sometimes have the highest return on investment.
Adopting strategies of businesses that successfully moved beyond the startup phase and mastered their techniques can help small businesses join the ranks of high-growth success stories. For “been there, done that” business hacks, turn to big companies for process, values, and strategies.
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