The secret to winning market share is to do something for your clients that your competitors can’t. This doesn’t necessarily mean offering a unique product or service, but rather solving a specific customer need. “SMEs need to evaluate the differences between themselves and their (often larger) competitors,” says Clive Pintusewitz, director small enterprise and enterprise development at Standard Bank. “The three factors that determine most buying decisions are price, access and service. As an SME, unless you are based in the services sector, it can be difficult to compete on price, which often acts as quite a strong barrier to market. This means that in order to succeed you need to not only be better than your competitors, but you need to figure out what you can do that they can’t.”
Two of the biggest advantages SMEs have are flexibility and localisation. While big corporates take time to make decisions and adapt to changes in the market, SMEs are adaptable. You can react quickly, solving a need that your larger competitors might not have even recognised yet. Keep your ear to the ground, speak to your clients and potential clients and find out what problems they are facing and what they believe might help them solve those problems.
Localisation refers to the fact that SMEs are often based in a specific area. “Companies that operate across various cities, provinces and even cultural and economic groups often do not understand ‘the man on the street’,” says Pintusewitz. “SMEs should use their intimate knowledge of the areas that they operate within to understand their markets. Leverage this understanding and use it to solve any problems you recognise.
“You can’t be everything to everybody. Find your specialist niche, understand your market and fill a gap. There are always opportunities in all markets. The question is whether you can recognise them, deliver on them and ultimately monetise them.”
Standard Bank is hosting a round table discussion at this year’s BOFE (Business Opportunities and Franchise Expo), which will be held at the Coca-Cola Dome from 15 – 18 September. The discussion will focus on access to markets, skills and funding as the top three barriers to success for entrepreneurs. Guests at the round table include Pavlo Phitidis, founder of business incubator Aurik, CEO of Entrepreneur Media SA and ThinkSales Corporation, Andrew Honey and self-made millionaire and entrepreneur Lebo Gunguluza. Visit www.bofe.co.za for more information.