We found this piece in The Telegraph interesting and inspiring. It case studies three small business owners who are competing directly with neighbouring giants, and very much finding their niche.
We thought their stories might inspire others.
First up, in the piece, is Telford-based Matt Taylor who owns LiquorLab, a cocktail bar operating alongside ‘11 established restaurants’, including national chains which offer cocktails.
‘Mr Taylor decided to forego food and offer only the signature cocktails that make the company stand out’, says The Telegraph.
Chains offer consistency, guaranteed, he suggests; ‘our goal was to be the best place to go for cocktails and to offer a drinks service better than anywhere else in Southwater’.
So how do you go about this?
By offering a better product, is Matt Taylor’s argument. ‘Not just a little bit better, but considerably better – for us, it’s the result of the tiny details coming together, from the way that we garnish our drinks and the type of ice that we shake, to the glassware that we use.’
Think hard about every detail: what it is you’re trying to achieve.
Plus, says Matt Taylor, use marketing. So, says the piece, LiquorLab ‘showcases its employees, including the mixologists, through its social media posts, which achieve consistent high levels of engagement, because they’re more personal.’
Brighton-based Andy Carr of Spoon Customs, agrees with the power of the personal touch.
His bespoke-bike shop relies on this. ‘When people come into the shop, they’re talking to the people who design and build their bike.’ This is such an advantage – one chains can never hope quite to emulate.
Perhaps especially, too, in a specialist subject.
‘Spoons Customs is targeting a niche market’, says The Telegraph: ‘people who love cycling culture.’
‘We’ve been cycling for years’, says Andy Carr; ‘we ride in the Alps and design bikes ourselves, so we can offer a depth of understanding in terms of biking culture, tech and lifestyle’.
The third and final Telegraph case study in the piece is Guy Blaskey of Pooch & Mutt. He echoes many of the same sentiments: specialise, then grow, seems to be his abiding message.
Pooch & Mutt launched in 2008 and ‘for the first few years’ sold only two health supplements for dogs.
Today, it also offers dog foods and treats – but it expanded once it had fully understood the market.
‘In the past four years, the firm has achieved more than 800pc growth in its turnover, with listings in Pets at Home and Sainsbury’s’, says the piece.
‘The small company’s agility has worked in its favour’, says The Telegraph. ‘Following discussions about healthy dog chews with a Waitrose buyer last year, the product went from idea to being on the shelf at more than 300 stores in three months.’
Guy Blaskey reckons this could take a large company three years.
He also agrees social media has helped massively. And for the same reason: that personal touch.
‘They can be more open and honest by virtue of the fact that the founder is sitting there in the office.’ It enables something special, he thinks.
‘In larger companies, the person responsible for social media is usually so far removed from the development of the product that they can never have a truly authentic voice’, says Guy Blaskey.