Project Management & Planning Articles

4 Tempting Ideas to Disrupt Your Small Business

by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 16 February 2012

In his 80s bestseller "Thriving in Chaos," well-known management guru Tom Peters touted the benefits of miniaturization.

In an example, he wrote about the success of mini-steel mills or small mills that supported local markets. In turn, these mills were about to be eclipsed by micro-mills, or steel mills every 25 miles or so.

This is an example of business disruption.

Disruption, or the act of disturbing established business practices, is an essential part of any business cycle. It is necessary for businesses to remain competitive and meet customer demands.

An upswing in technology use and Software as a Service (SaaS) growth has enabled small businesses to compete with established players and implement scale.

Here are four simple, common-sense ways in which you can disrupt your small business.

1. Conduct a SWOT analysis of your small business

In case you did not know about it, SWOT is an analysis technique to survey small businesses for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (hence, the acronym SWOT).

In short, it identifies, establishes, and lists priorities for your small business, includes intangible assets such as your employee base as well as their skill sets. The analysis also sets out a future road map by identifying growth avenues and roadblocks. Typically, this list should be the starting point for any analysis about the evolution of your business. The outcome should be a list of priorities.

2. Rank your assets

Once you have listed priorities, rank them in order of importance.

This can be especially tricky in an ever-changing business environment. For example, how do you rank intangible assets such as your employee skill-set against tangible assets such as office space?

The secret, in this case, is to rank assets against value derived to your core product or service. For example, if you are in a high-end consulting services small business, skill sets for your employees ranks higher than office space. The converse is true for product-based businesses such as small-scale manufacturing centers since employee skill sets can be ramped up through inhouse (or outsourced) training programs.

3. Fixed to variable costs

Operating business is about achieving scale.

Numerous orders and customers from a single day can slow down to a trickle the next day. As a small business, you can achieve scale by minimizing fixed costs and converting them to flexible costs.

For example, you can eliminate fixed physical office space costs and convert them into variable costs by investing in Software as a Service (SaaS) online project management tools that enable your employees to work from home or from client locations.

4. Adopt SaaS for your business

Most small businesses are apprehensive about investing in technology (and on-premise software) because it represents a fixed cost and commitment to the installed software.

However, SaaS business apps is a democratizing force, one that enables you to compete on the same turf as big business. It enables you to test and implement previously undiscovered permutations for your small business.

The road to disruption is paved with uncertainty and doubt. However, you can minimize this uncertainty by taking a methodical, common-sensical approach and mixing it up with technology. It will also significantly reduce your IT costs and increase your productivity.