A golden opportunity for small, speedy businesses

Caroline Plumb OBE, former Business Ambassador for the UK Prime Minister, thinks there’s a golden opportunity for small businesses; hear how to take advantage.

In the business world, is big still better? I’ve been giving this question a bit of thought recently, as we gear up for a period of growth at Fluidly.

A recent grant win will likely put us into competition with larger and better-funded rivals; companies for whom we weren’t even on the radar before.

Given the levels of uncertainty in the world at present, it’s easy to assume that the answer to the size question is yes, bigger is better. After all, a giant oil tanker is a lot more stable and secure in stormy seas than a tiny vessel.

While the sheer commercial bulk of big companies may be reassuring though, the advantages of size aren’t what they used to be.

It’s good to be nimble

When it comes to coping with a fast-changing environment, being nimble enough to grab opportunities and dodge trouble is smarter than relying on your size to soak up the punishment.

Business strategy is no longer about picking a single destination and getting your head down for a five-year journey. A great strategy is now about scanning the horizon and course-correcting frequently in response to the information you receive; a more flexible approach.

Life aboard the supertanker may be more comfortable in the short-term, but a large vessel will take a long time to stop or change direction. Better to suffer a bit of motion sickness in exchange for the ability to turn on a dime.

Levelling with tech

And even the deep pockets of large firms aren’t as big an advantage any more.

Thanks to the cloud and open-source software, tech barriers are crumbling. Today’s small businesses have access to a range and quality of technology that would have been the strict preserve of multinationals a few years ago. HSBC, Barclays, NatWest and others are even seeking out small, tech-forward start-ups for valuable collaborations.

In accountancy, the Big Four do still dominate, but they no longer have the privileged access to talent and tech that they enjoyed in the past. The democratisation of AI and data means that smaller outfits can compete on quality of service, while being inherently closer to their clients and their shifting business needs.

It’s a golden opportunity to go beyond reporting the past and build more valuable strategic advisory relationships for tomorrow.

I’d go one step further and say that it’s no longer a question of “big is beautiful” and more a case of “fast is fabulous”. Speed, urgency and momentum are what matter most when it comes to future success.

In summary

If you’re struggling to position your small business in order to compete, it’s time to play to your strengths. Forget about what you don’t have, and focus on the benefits your size brings to the table.

Smaller businesses can move and react quicker, taking swift action on opportunities that crop up for their clients. Strong customer relationships have always been an advantage for smaller companies, but now tech and talent are at your disposal too.

The business world is evolving in your favour; it’s time to take advantage.

Further reading;

Caroline Plumb is a contributor for AAT's member's magazine, AT.

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