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When Growing Is a Pain: Structural Growing Pains and How to Stay Ahead

Ask any small-business owner what he sees as the major challenges to growing his business, and chances are he'll say: winning more sales. Ask any medium- or large-business owner what her major challenges have been, however, and she'll probably say: structural growing pains -- putting into place the necessary processes and structure to accommodate a higher volume of business. In fact, one of the most common reasons businesses plateau at a certain level is their inability -- or unwillingness -- to develop the structure needed for growth.

But aligning structural changes with sales growth is not simple. It is often more of an art than a science. The systems, processes, staff, and organization changes needed to grow are ongoing and dictated by myriad factors such as the nature of the business, its capital requirements and, ultimately, customer demands. Nonetheless, certain structural growth concerns -- excluding financing and office/production space issues -- are shared among all growing...

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David vs. Goliath: Taking on Larger Competition and Winning

Running a small business isn’t easy. In our global society there is unlimited opportunities, but also unlimited threats.  So when a competitor moves in — especially a big one — it can feel like battle lines have been drawn.

Sharpen Your Edge

Before you do anything, accept the fact that you can’t compete on the same level as a large national chain. But that doesn’t mean you can’t win the battle. Study what the competition does and how they do it. Then use that information to define — and sharpen — your company’s competitive edge.

A large competitor will almost certainly have lower prices and a deeper inventory. But you can connect with customers in ways the competition can’t. You can add value to every customer interaction by being attentive and providing expertise and personalized service.

Perhaps your biggest edge is your size. Being small means you can respond to market trends and customer requests more quickly. You...

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