Open: Question 1

One of the goals of this American Express Conference is to explore some ideas about small businesses. They have provided a series of questions that Dane, Anita, and I will answer, and of course as always you are welcome to leave comments. Today's question is

What strategies can a nimble business employ to compete against a larger one?

Well you are in luck, because a friend of mine and frequent commenter on this blog is Laurence Haughton, who co-authored a book a few years ago called It's Not the Big that Eat the Small, It's the Fast that Eat the Slow. I hope he will stop by and leave some ideas from the book.

What do I think? Nimble businesses can use their small size to execute much faster than a large company. The CEO of a large retailer can't meet with every customer that comes to the store, but the small business owner can. How does this help you? You can have your finger on the pulse of what is changing at the local level. Is there a new trend emerging? You can find it and react to it much quicker than a large corporation can. Large companies obey Newton's law of inertia. Once in motion, they tend to keep going in that direction. Nimble businesses can stop on a dime and change direction, following market trends and making customers more satisfied.

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Small businesses can also be more creative than large corporations. Many times small business owners and employees have to wear multiple hats and do lots of different things. Therefore, they get to see the business from many different angles, and that can lead to ideas and suggestions that wouldn't have come without synthesizing the various perspectives.

Anita, Dane and I have decided to take suggestions about this topic. How can nimble businesses compete? We will compile a list of the strategies and tactics posted on all three blogs, and summarize them for your convenience. I would also like to take the question one step further and ask how can you transform your business into a nimble one? Or in other words, how can you be fast?

Be sure to check out what Dane is saying, and read Anita's experience meeting Richard Branson. Also check out the Open site to learn more.

UPDATE: Anita and Dane respond to the first question.

"The opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect those of American Express. If you post on the blogs, be aware that any personal information you post will be viewable by anybody reading the blogs."

"The facilitator and bloggers for this event have been compensated for their
time by OPEN from American Express."