I was recently contacted by journalist Beverley Head, writing for the Qantas magazine, to provide my thoughts as the Executive Director for Small Business Australia. The article was focused on looking at how small businesses, faced with technological disruption or overseas competition or sectoral transformation are able to pivot and transform themselves.
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Small business, big competition
Globalisation, digitalisation and the increasing speed of market and technological change are big challenges facing SMEs, says Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang. That and “inconsistent and non-aligned government policy”. Here’s Lang’s advice…
What can small businesses do to ensure they aren’t forced out by sudden market shifts?
Being closer to customers and their needs is one of the keys to beating larger competitors. A lot of global companies fail to understand local markets and segments, as they operate in various countries. Many of their strategies fail.
Amazon could be a disruptor in Australia. What can local small businesses do?
It’s early days. Amazon in Australia means two differences compared with using Amazon in the United States: possibly lower costs of buying and delivery, as well as faster delivery. For small businesses that predominantly serve local customers, if the product is in stock and the price is fair, some customers will prefer to visit the local shopping strip or mall and pick it up. Some will want advice on product selection. Talking to a local-community small business that employs local kids and sponsors the footy club will be preferred over an anonymous online retailer. Focus on segments where the value your business offers is key. This starts with empathy and insight about customers. Then it requires disciplined choices and focus.
What steps can businesses take to stay in the game?
Most important is for owners to keep learning while minimising fixed costs and commitments, as well as deciding on the [right] segment and offerings to focus on. Leveraging mentoring and educational platforms like yourbusinessnetwork.com is a cost-effective way to win against the Amazons. BEVERLEY HEAD