- Undercut the Competition – One way to make a large organisation sit up and take notice is to offer them a way to save a lot of money. Starting a price war with your competition will certainly get the attention of your target audience but whether it will help you to achieve your aims in the long run is far from certain. The main problem with this approach is that by charging unrealistically low prices, you may convince prospective customers that you are even less likely to be able to meet their needs in the long term than if you had left your prices well alone. If you undercut everybody else, the odds that you will make enough profit to remain in business are quite low: a fact that will do nothing for your credibility or your company finances.
- Create an Illusion of Size – If you don’t want to win over new customers by pricing your products and services so low that you stand a good chance of going broke, you could tackle the credibility hurdle by creating the illusion of a larger, well established company. Virtual office and telephone answering services are both excellent ways to achieve this aim. A business address in a prestigious part of town lends instant credibility to your firm and if every call is answered by a professional receptionist – after only one or two rings – prospective clients will come away with the impression that your business is well established, well organised and well funded.
- Start Smaller – Probably the simplest way to avoid credibility issues when courting new customers is to aim lower and start with smaller firms who will not be worried about your ability to deliver on your promises. Whilst this may sound like an attractive proposition compared to some other options, because it does not involve your company having to pay for any additional services, in the long run it could be the most costly option of them all. Growing a new business takes time but the slowest path is rarely the best one. By shunning the opportunity now to deal with large companies that could become loyal, high-volume clients in the future, you could do a great deal of damage to your corporate balance sheet.
- Form a Coalition – Some small business owners go after larger customers by teaming up with one or more of their competitors. The advantage of such an alliance is that prospective clients will be more ready to believe that you can fulfil their needs in the long term. The disadvantage is one that plagues coalitions of all kinds: a constant need to compromise and go with the majority opinion. If you can see opportunities and potential problems more clearly than your business partners, you may have to spend a large percentage of your working days trying to convince them of facts that to you are blindingly obvious. Frustration and an inability to react quickly to changing market conditions are weaknesses from which many commercial alliances suffer.
- Organise a Reverse Takeover – Taking over a much larger competitor is one way to instantly increase your credibility and gain access to the global clients you crave. However, it is not an easy option to pursue and in many cases is simply not practical. Unless you have already been in business for a number of years and have the financial resources to purchase a substantial amount of stock in the company you wish to take over, this option is best left to others. Nevertheless, it may still be worth learning more about reverse takeovers even if it is not a practical option for your business to pursue at the present time, as you may one day have to defend against a similar manoeuvre by one of your smaller competitors.
Analysing Your Options
The above options are those that are most commonly considered by owners of small companies that want to make a big impression and land large accounts. As already mentioned, there are various advantages and disadvantages associated with each choice but which one should your firm take? In order to answer this question, you need to consider a couple of factors that are specific to your business.
- Funding – With unlimited funding, a reverse takeover is an obvious possibility. It may also allow you to undercut the competition, at least in the short term. On the other hand, if you are trying to create a big impression on a small budget, creating an illusion of size will be the most attractive option for your company. Firms that provide telephone answering services normally charge a fixed amount per call, a fact that makes it very easy to control your costs when using such services. Your costs should only ever rise as the level of enquiries increases.
- Personal Ambitions – If you are happy to work in concert with other business owners, a coalition may appeal. You may also be happy to follow a very slow growth path and leave the bigger fish in the pond to others if your business ambitions are limited. If, however, you are the type of entrepreneur who will settle for nothing less than complete control of your destiny and you would like to start attracting high-volume clients as soon as possible, a virtual office and overflow call handling package could well be your best option.
Whichever path you choose, remember that flexibility is often crucial to success in any line of business so do not commit your company to a plan of action from which it will be too costly to withdraw.