enterprisenetworkingmag

Sun Tzu's Art of War, an Integrated Commerce Solution and Small Businesses

By Stan Roach, Chief Customer Officer, Agiliron Inc

Stan Roach, Chief Customer Officer, Agiliron Inc

FREMONT, CA: A small business’s journey towards business profitability is an uphill battle. Whether it’s finding seed capital, working out a compensation strategy to keep employees happy and not busting the bank or something else, there are a dozen challenges that they have to face down. They also must learn to roll with the punches, but if there is one challenge they cannot afford to lose, ignore or be satisfied with ordinary performance is top line revenue growth. If small businesses do not grow, they won’t survive.

The problem with increasing sales is manifold. Businesses not only have to explore new avenues for growth, but also have to unseat big businesses who’re already tapping into these avenues; and all this must be done with an eye on their overheads. They don’t have a truckload of money to spend on advertising; they also suffer from a lack of manpower that ensures they have complete control over their sales channels including the front and back end activities that support the sales processes.

If this doesn’t put a damper on the hopes of small businesses, they also have to contend with the unavailability of the right technology infrastructure and lack of business visibility across sales channels. This is enough for many entrepreneurs to have second thoughts about running their business. They look at the big businesses in their niche and wonder how, if ever, they can beat them at their own game.

Enter the modern day Sun Tzu also known as a ‘comprehensive commerce’ solution. Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher, and the ancient Chinese military treatise ‘Art of War’ is attributed to him.

How does Sun Tzu play a role in a small business’s quest for strategic business growth? It is clearly evident that a traditional approach is not going to work if you want to win the David vs. Goliath battle. You need tactics that will take the big players in your market by surprise and before they get their bearings right, you need to be far ahead of your competitors.

Sun Tzu tells you how it’s done and you can put this learning into practice quite easily and efficiently by implementing the use of a multi-channel commerce solution.

Forge Alliances

As a small business, you need all the help you can get, so find alliances to help you become a market leader. While such alliances take many forms, forming an alliance with the right technology can ensure you become more competitive.

But isn’t technology expensive? Can a small business afford the implementation of advanced technology to push business growth? Yes and yes; technology is expensive, but it has evolved. There are plenty of inexpensive yet cutting edge options available for use that can help businesses at multiple levels. All they need to do is find and use them.

The cloud has thrown open the doors for small businesses to access the most advanced business solutions at affordable rates.

In this particular case, for the purposes of fueling top line growth, you canchoose aSaaS (software as a service) commerce solution based on the pay as you go subscription model. You get your hands on a comprehensive solution that doesn’t make you dig deep into your pockets.

How do you go about picking the right products for your needs?

Good question.

The best product will help you improve top line revenue and at the same time keep your operational costs in check. In fact, it should reduce these costs. The idea is to save money to utilize in other revenue generation tasks. You got to add to your sales channels, increase brand visibility on these channels and all this requires money. Pruning down your costs gives you the leeway to explore new avenues of growth. This is what a technology alliance brings to the table – the space to grow.

Always Look For a Position of Strength

Don’t be scared. You need an aggressive growth strategy in place and that’s what ensures your small business has the chance to become big. Companies like Dell and Apple started out in the dorm and garages of their founders, but look where they are now. This wouldn’t have happened without these companies aggressively positioning themselves for growth. You must do the same.

Sun Tzu believed a good position was higher ground, which was perfect to attack the enemy; this is again where a commerce solution comes in to help you out.  Get one that hosts web stores that act as your sales channels (great pick if you don’t have an existing web store), helps you manage existing web stores, your presence on marketplaces like eBay, and any other sales channel that you want to explore and add.

Is that it? No, Sun Tzu says you need to get into a good position but also guard your supply lines. Adding to your sales channels will not deliver good returns if you cannot align your sales strategy with other business processes like order management, payment processing and customer support. You’ve got a customer placing an order but if you cannot fulfill this order within the necessary time frame, your sales strategy will unravel before you say ‘sales’. This is just one example of ‘guarding the supply lines’.

Knowing Yourself, Knowing the Competition

Sun Tzu stresses on the need for knowing your strengths and weaknesses of the enemy, to win a battle. As a business,you must be aware of your strengths and leverage them to hit your competition where it hurts. Just because your competitors have deep pockets, are far bigger in size, scale and scope as compared to your business, doesn’t mean they are doing everything right.

The right commerce solutions deliver key business intelligence which ensuresyou are able to take the right business decisions on time. Whether its sales reports, inventory metrics, sales indicators or any other key performance indicators, the right information delivered at the right time helps you take strategic decisions with a fair degree of confidence. You will also realize that at many levels, your business is doing far better than your competitors. Zero in on what they are not doing right, this is your opening, go all guns blazing to exploit it to the fullest, with the strengths of your business.

Sun Tzu was a master tactician who believed even small armies can defeat far bigger armies purely by adopting the right tactics. You could do the same and you can simplify things by taking the help of a technological solution to help you out. So why not to use Sun Tzu’s Technique and the right commerce solution to empower your small business?

About the Author:

Stan Roach is the Chief Customer Officer at Agiliron Inc, a SaaS solution provider for omni-channel commerce. He has over 30 years of experience with a track record of launching several B2C and B2B software products.