Small businesses have long been recognized for their resourcefulness and creativity, despite their limited resources. They have often developed clever techniques to survive, including the use of automation tools. As such, there is much that large corporations can learn from small businesses, especially in terms of innovation.
In this guide, we will explore ten lessons that large corporations can learn from small businesses to enhance their innovation culture and gain a competitive edge.
Section 1: Consider Your Company as a Small Business Franchise
Franchising is a growth strategy that many small businesses have used to expand their operations. Large corporations can benefit from this strategy too. By thinking of their company as a franchise, they can uncover opportunities for innovation by standardizing marketing, operations, and sourcing. This approach can simplify processes, leading to greater efficiency and profitability.
Section 2: Maintain a Strong Culture When Scaling
Employees are essential to any company’s success. Retaining a strong culture as a company grows is vital. Small businesses focus on culture-driven productivity as they expand in a “pod-like” structure. Large corporations can do the same by personalizing people management and making sure that employees remain invested in the company’s vision and mission.
Section 3: Complete Small Business Transactions Quickly
Small businesses have a flat structure that allows them to react quickly to transactions. Time is valuable in any organization, and tasks should be executed in an efficient manner. Large corporations can learn from small businesses by shortening the number of departments that a single transaction passes through. This approach can simplify processes and enhance customer satisfaction.
Section 4: Quickly Respond to Customer Feedback
Small businesses excel in simplifying processes, and this extends to addressing customer feedback. Empowering employees who are close to decision-making can be beneficial for larger organizations too. By reacting quickly to customer input, large corporations can improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue.
Section 5: Shorten the Timeframe from Concept to Execution
Small businesses are excellent at transitioning from strategy to execution stages. Cumbersome processes and coordination can slow down market research, leading to delayed product launches. By learning from small businesses, large organizations can become more agile, shortening the time it takes to get a product from concept to execution.
Section 6: Form Self-Organizing, Smaller Teams
Small businesses put together smaller, self-organizing teams to solve particular challenges based on a single metric. They operate like a small business, with a lean approach to inventing, building MVPs, failing quickly, and pivoting when required. Large corporations can benefit from forming similar teams and allowing them time to develop and produce ideas without bureaucracy, micromanagement, or red tape.
Section 7: Be Able to Quickly React and Pivot
Large corporations often have larger teams, which can allow them to respond and pivot more quickly when necessary. They need to maintain an innovative culture, though, and change their opinions when necessary. For example, in the entertainment industry, TV networks remained attached to the idea of TV as a “thing” people would continue to watch with ads. They failed to realize that the TV is merely a monitor that inputs materials. Changing one’s opinion is healthy and can lead to innovation and growth.
Section 8: Allow for Quick and Easy Collaboration
Entrepreneurial individuals often work in small businesses because there is less red tape and bureaucracy to deal with. Large corporations need to allow their employees to collaborate quickly and easily, especially when developing a brilliant concept. Cutting out the red tape from procedures can lead to innovation, pushing the company closer to its goals.
Section 9: Put More Emphasis on Customer Engagement
Small businesses are known for providing excellent customer service, building meaningful personal connections with their clients. Large corporations must prioritize customer engagement too. By interacting more with clients, large corporations can make them the focal point of their decision-making processes, thus enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Section 10: Promote Small Business Pilot Projects
Trial and error are crucial in innovation. Small businesses are known for their flexibility, rapid implementation, and willingness to make errors. Large corporations need to create spaces where new ideas can emerge and take form. This space will allow them to try out new ideas, make adjustments, and sustain the brand experience without stymying innovation and advancement.
In conclusion, small businesses have a lot to teach large corporations about innovation. These ten lessons offer a starting point for large organizations that want to develop their innovation culture. By making these changes, even the largest corporations can operate like small businesses, resulting in a more agile, efficient and competitive organization.