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How To Establish and Maintain Your Company’s Competitive Edge
The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to redefine activities that were once standard in our day-to-day lives, changing the way we shop, socialize, and do business. But what has remained constant is the value placed on supporting the heavily impacted “Main Street”.
As the backbone of America, there were 31.7 million small businesses in the United States in 2020, which accounted for 99.9% of businesses in the nation.1 With Americans starting new businesses at a greater rate than they have in over 10 years,2 hopeful self-starters and tenured entrepreneurs may be questioning where to begin and what can help their business stand apart in a crowded and competitive landscape. For some, it starts with the approval of a small business loan. Trusted financial institutions like The Bancorp take a critical eye to the proposed business model in order to determine a business’ ability to succeed. Others may start with investor funding or bootstrapping their own venture.
While your business’ “what” is the catalyst, it’s the “how” that enables business owners to establish and maintain a competitive edge. Read on for ways to help ensure your business becomes indelible.
Make Connections with Customers in Impactful Ways
Since the start of the pandemic, businesses have had to think and operate differently. Regardless of the industry, the constant thread is delivering an excellent customer experience; today, that is no longer optional, but rather essential.3 A recent study found “when customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.”4 As such, impeccable customer service and thoughtful, strategic marketing programs are critical in creating meaningful connections with customers, and establishing and maintaining brand affinity.
Establish a Positive Culture to Drive Employee Success
Company culture isn’t just a buzzword — it’s a significant platform to inspire and support employees. Customers and the subsequent revenue they provide are ultimately the outcome of employee service. Therefore, ensuring employees are engaged and supported is essential to the success of a business. Per the Harvard Business Review, a positively reinforced culture “achieve(s) significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement."5
This past year challenged companies to rethink their culture as employees face the ongoing challenge of living, working and educating their children from home. In an effort to connect and strengthen their overall relationship with employees, leaders are cultivating a high-touch atmosphere by checking in more often on a personal level and being vulnerable in sharing their own struggles throughout the pandemic.6,7
Outpace Your Competition Beyond Expertise
Whether a business owner has decades of collective industry experience, or is new to the business world, it’s the additional complementary value offerings — a business’ resolve, transparency, flexibility and capability, among others — that helps outpace a competitor during a customer’s decision-making journey. Beyond products and services, it’s what truly makes a brand unique that ultimately makes consumers feel more connected to the brand.8
Continue To Evolve Your Business
The expression “complacency kills” has never been more true when it comes to running a business. Having endless curiosity and a forward-thinking, solution-based mentality helps continue to spur meaningful evolutions of a business. Regardless of whether the changes are big or small, it’s the positive momentum of staying ahead of the curve, both from a consumer need and competitive standpoint, that ensures a competitive edge and a prosperous business.
There has been no better example of the need to evolve than during the ongoing pandemic. Recently, 44% of business leaders indicated that they’ve made appropriate updates to business continuity plans during COVID-19 on their return to growth.9 By doing so, business owners can plan for what’s next to help withstand potential future headwinds — whether that’s economic downturns, increased competition, or other unforeseen challenges.
Determine and Focus on Your Competitive Edge
An example of establishing and maintaining a competitive edge can be demonstrated within The Bancorp Commercial Lending business. Our Small Business Lending and Commercial Fleet Leasing services always provide best-in-class service and solutions to clients. Prior to January 2019, these two service lines worked in separate silos. While efficient individually, we saw the potential for something greater and combined them under the Commercial Lending business to meet the overlapping needs of our customers.
The integration of these two business lines involved a solution-based mentality as the impetus for the evolution, required the training and education necessary to propel the new combined services forward, and exercised the right marketing tactics to establish and secure business longevity. In doing so, The Bancorp now provides a turnkey process that other commercial lenders cannot. Starting with a single point of contact from our team, this union provides three key business differentiators: a superior standard of service, one-of-a-kind resources, and industry-leading expertise. To read the full case study, click here.
No matter where you are on your small business journey — whether it’s discovery or expansion — The Bancorp can help support your business with small business lending or commercial fleet leasing services.
1. The U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. 2020 Small Business Economic Profile.
2. Business Insider. “The increase in the number of people starting their own businesses in the US has surged to a 13-year high”.
3. The Bancorp. “It’s More Critical than Ever to Focus on the Customer Experience“.
4. Sprout Social. “#BrandsGetReal: What consumers want from brands in a divided society”.
5. Harvard Business Review. “Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive”.
6. McKinsey. “Communications get personal: How leaders can engage employees during a return to work”.
7. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “6 Tips for Adapting Your Leadership Style in the Post-COVID World”.
8. Sprout Social. “#BrandsGetReal: What consumers want from brands in a divided society”.
9. PWC. “What's top of mind for business leaders?”.
Opinions, findings, or perspectives contained in this blog are those of the authors.
Small Business Success