Top 3 Ways SMBs Can Compete – and How IT Consultants Can Help

zohocreator_logoThe plucky underdog who rose from nothing to beat the big money – it’s a dream plotline for every SMB leader. Smaller companies often seem overshadowed by their much larger, much more established competitors. When you’re the small player facing off with a huge rival, it can seem impossible to beat the odds. However, just as David’s slingshot took down Goliath, there are ways for SMBs to compete with larger companies. As we’ll see, IT consultants are important in each of these strategies.

1. Create a fantastic company culture.

Business application company Zoho successfully competes with the world’s biggest competitors, including Google and Microsoft. Zoho cofounder and CEO Sridhar Vembu emphasizes the importance of culture in his company’s success. The firm is highly focused on supporting its people through training and skills development, for instance. This and other company culture initiatives have allowed Zoho to achieve an extraordinarily low turnover rate – just 3 percent annually – which translates into significant hiring and onboarding savings. More importantly, though, is the fact that a strong company culture fosters exceptional teamwork and the ability to move quickly. When culture connects your staff, it’s easier to adapt to unexpected opportunities and obstacles alike.

How an IT consulting firm can help:

  • IT consultants can help SMBs achieve technological alignment with cultural values.
  • IT consulting firms can also help companies understand what technological changes employees require for improved engagement and performance.

2. Plan for the future, but act in the present.

Large companies rarely fail to have long-term plans in place. SMBs should follow suit, but they can give larger competitors a run for their money by also acting with agility when an opportunity presents itself. Bigger companies often become mired in bureaucracy and are unable to strike while the iron is hot. Therefore, your ability to quickly shift your approach is a key part of your competitive strategy. For instance, Vembu says Zoho’s private structure allows the company to “turn on a dime,” which in turn attracts potential partners.

How an IT consulting firm can help:

  • A strong, stable IT setup is the foundation that makes agility possible for SMBs. IT consultants can help SMBs prioritize the most important security and stability upgrades.
  • Rely on your IT consulting firm for a cost/benefit analysis of which technological opportunities are worth pursuing.

3. Partner with competitors and others.

Don’t see competitors as the enemy. While Zoho does compete with Google’s cloud productivity products, it also partners with the online behemoth in the Google Apps Marketplace, where Zoho’s CRM app was one of the top-installed apps in 2010. Don’t limit your partnership search to competitors; look for non-industry companies, large and small, that could benefit from your products and services. You can arrange a cut of the revenue your innovative approach earns for partners.

How an IT consulting firm can help:

  • Because IT consultants work in many different industries, they may have connections to potential partnerships.
  • IT consultants can also help your firm figure out which of your niche, unique services would be most useful for other companies.

With the right approach, an underdog can compete with – and even outperform – the big dogs. IT consultants are like technological coaches that can help SMBs meet their fullest potential.

[ Photo by: googlisti, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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