Could - and Should - Your Small Business Appear Bigger Than It Is?

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Could - and Should - Your Small Business Appear Bigger Than It Is?

In business, as in nature, things that are bigger tend to indicate strength, success, and ability. You may sometimes think that being a small business is a liability that keeps customers from choosing your company in favor of one that appears larger. That may be true in some but not all cases, so let’s first consider the advantages smaller businesses have over their bigger competitors.

Benefits of a smaller business

Rather than making the value judgement that a bigger business is a better business, think of a small business as simply being different than a larger one. Large businesses have to think about volume and churning out the most quantity for the least cost and labor. Small businesses have the luxury of focusing on different metrics, which can prove as - or more - appealing to some customers. Small businesses can:

  • More easily focus on personalized, unique products and services. Just see if a mega-corporation can offer its clientele the level of personal attention and one-of-a-kind items as a small consulting firm or boutique.
  • Specialize in a niche market. Big companies do business on a grand scale and, to do so, must have wide appeal. Your small business can drill down to offer extremely specific offerings to a specific clientele.
  • Operate with greater agility. There’s no chain of command to cut through in your organization. When you want to pivot or make a change, you can do so, on a dime, free of time-consuming bureaucracy and red tape.
  • More accurately target potential customers. You have a more intimate relationship with your customers than a big firm. You know exactly what they want, how to appeal to them, and where to find them.
  • Innovate and can afford to take risks. Who’s developing new ways to be eco-friendlier, develop new products and serve people in new ways? It’s the small businesses who, without unlimited budgets, rely on creative solutions to solve problems and offer what their customers want and need.

In reality, a small business isn’t competing with the “big guys” - you’re not really playing the same game. To compare yourself to them will only make you feel “less than.” So, rather than feeling like your business is drowning as a small frog in a big pond, think of it as a potential big frog in a small pond. The new perspective will prove empowering!

Advantages to appearing larger

Even though you embrace your superpower as a small business, the truth is, many customers will hesitate to do business with you. Their thinking may harken back to our original premise that bigger companies are inherently considered more successful, trustworthy, and capable. You know the truth - that, for the right customer, your company is a perfect fit. It’s up to you, then

to combat this engrained mindset by challenging the very things they say small businesses lack, like professionalism, experience, and ability. It’s time to show them that you’re everything they’re looking for.

Help your business appear bigger

Here are some ways to provide that sense of a “bigger” company that customers crave:

  • Clearly elucidate your business’ mission and goals. This will ensure that customers know exactly what it is that you do - and they won’t expect you do/provide something else. When customers are unclear about your niche, they may think less of you when you can’t serve them from a wider menu of options.
  • Exude professionalism from every pore. Nothing convinces someone that you’re “small potatoes” faster than unprofessional habits, demeanor or processes. Hone your sales pitch, look and act the part and have your procedures down pat. Spend what it takes to have a professional website and business cards. Customers will make assumptions about you based on these marketing materials - so make sure they communicate professionalism, attention to detail and competence.
  • What you say - and don’t say matters. Simply by choosing the pronoun, “our” rather than “my” in your business literature can make your business seem bigger. The word “our” implies that there are multiple people in your business. Avoid printing your title on business cards because as owner, you wear many hats. You may sometimes be acting as president, other times as a customer care representative and it will confound people when the title doesn’t match your task.
  • Accept calls like the big guys. Customers will immediately think you’re a bigger company when their calls to your 800, 888, or 877 area code number are answered by a virtual phone system which routes their call automatically. Even choosing three- or four-digit extensions will help you appear more fully staffed.
  • Get out there. Be seen at events that go hand and hand with your business. You’ll want people to associate your face with your industry. Even online, establish yourself as an industry expert and all-around knowledgeable persona by keeping a blog or maintaining an active social media presence.

Of course, there’s no shame in being a small (and mighty) company but “small business discrimination” is, unfortunately, a real thing. So, it’s up to you to mitigate its effect on your company. It’s not a matter of misrepresenting yourself - it’s a matter of giving your business a fair chance to be noticed and appreciated for all that it has to offer.

How do you help your business appear bigger than it is?

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