The article, Where Independent Professionals Succeed and Large Firms Fail by Andrew Sobel (author of Making Rain, Clients for Life, All for One, etc.), promotes eight vital areas where small firms can outperform large firms.
He points out that only a few small firms last more than a year or two, and those that survive and thrive share certain common strengths and best practices.
After I read Sobel’s article, I turned his key points into an easy Q&A checklist and added thoughts of my own. Keep it handy. It's a useful reminder that being small offers powerful advantages to you and your clients.
8 Ways Small Beats Large
1. Taking steps to build your company’s brand recognition?
- Focus on a core specialty
- Publish articles and/or books
- Schedule presentations & speeches
- Network steadily and productively
2. Developing and disseminating intellectual capital?
- Work to become/be seen as a thought leader
- Share things that are new, fresh and/or useful
- Create and maintain a targeted B2B blog
- Publish useful content (case studies, executive summaries, white papers, how-to instruction)
3. Talking frequently and personally with clients?
- Keep contacts simple, direct and engaged
- Avoid the PowerPoint presentation pitfall
- Avoid overwhelming clients with processes and "stuff"
4. Focusing on success not perfection?
- Deliver the right solution
- Deliver at the right level
- Focus on what works and keep it simple
- Avoid large-firm syndrome (too much, too complicated, too rigid)
5. Eliminating non-value added activities?
- Emphasize actions that contribute directly to the goal
- Deliver value
- Avoid over-working a solution
- Avoid diluting the impact
6. Pursuing personal and professional development?
- Keep skills current
- Pursue new knowledge
- Learn from experts
7. Organized around clients?
- Leverage this strength
- Analyze new opportunities
- Put the client at the center of all work
8. Minding the client’s investment?
- Spend their money as carefully as your own
- Judge value before spending
- Remember to ask: Do you really want to do that?
Small means we know our clients and their businesses, and respond personally to their inquiries. Small means we're more flexible, adaptable and agile than larger competitors. Small means taking care of our clients' business is taking care of our own.
These and many other high-performance items are so integral to how "smalls" do business, we forget clients value them as well.
Try using this checklist to monitor priorities, identify areas to develop, and track efforts to grow and succeed long term. Use it also as a reminder that small is a strength not a weakness.
The bottom line? The decision to stay small can be a smart, meaningful way to accomplish something big.
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