Size Doesn’t Matter: The Benefits of Being the Underdog

In today’s marketplace, many doubt whether or not starting a small business is a wise venture.

As of 2014, however, almost three quarters of the 28 million small businesses in the United States were independently owned. Small businesses may encounter challenges that big businesses don’t, such as lacking a known brand or the guarantee of consistent revenue.

But the perks of being a small business owner can be enough to transform a unique idea into a lucrative enterprise, despite the perceived competition of big corporations.

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Being Small Gives You Freedom 

For most independent business owners, the benefits can be summed up in two words: freedom and independence. This doesn’t just mean freedom to do whatever you please—this means the freedom to develop a legacy through your own business practices.

Design and Control the Decision-Making Process

Unlike employees of larger corporations, self-employed business owners are unencumbered with a rigid business structure or mandated adherence to corporate protocol. Therefore, they have more autonomy in making decisions about all aspects of their business. If it’s your dream to be your own boss, consider that the absence of a corporate hierarchy will give you the space for your creative process and control over branding.

For managers and supervisors in corporations with many levels of executives and thousands of employees, it can be difficult to feel as though you are in charge of anything. Corporate rules and practices dictate your management style, leaving you to develop a skill-set according to an existing company. As a small business owner, you can develop a management style all your own.

Advance Without Limitation

While employees working for a corporation may wait years to experience the payoff of their hard work through a promotion or pension, small business owners can benefit directly from their hard work and experience success on their own timeline. What may start as a part-time entrepreneurial effort done in addition to your full-time day job may later generate income even when you’re not working. For many small business owners, this can be a viable way to retire in years to come.

Small business owners may not have the built-in infrastructure for mentoring or training, but they have more than enough flexibility to achieve fulfillment when the company itself advances. When the company succeeds, the owner of the business succeeds—and that is often worth more than a promotion.

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Size Dictates Flexibility

Small businesses enjoy the flexibility of being independent in a way that employees of corporations cannot. In addition to giving yourself the flexibility to work when you want, you have the flexibility to oversee the departments as broadly or as narrowly as you see fit.

Create Your Own Schedule

Working for a big business means clocking in and out daily, taking only allotted breaks and abiding by a set schedule determined by a supervisor. Small business owners decide how much and when they work. This flexibility sets the stage for greater work-life balances, which is increasingly becoming a priority for the average employee. A flexible schedule means you can work remotely or shifted hours based on seasonal demand.

In addition, Millennials (the generation born between 1976 and 2001) made up 34 percent of the workforce in 2014; by 2020, they will comprise nearly half. This new workforce, in contrast to older generations, prefers flexible scheduling above many other job perks. Working from home or odd hours often means more to a millennial than a bonus. Small business owners, with a smaller staff, can often offer flexible scheduling to accommodate these hard-to-please millennials.

Oversee the Minute Details

Small businesses also have flexibility when it comes to developing new products and services to meet local needs and implementing them in short order.

For example, a small business can manufacture and distribute all their products from a local distribution center, which means they can more closely monitor and guarantee the quality and variety of their inventory as well as the pricing. Large corporations don’t have this flexibility, as these business decisions are made by upper management, which takes time to materialize.

For the Love of It!

Small businesses can often specialize in niche markets, whereas big businesses are sometimes not able to offer the types of products and services that some consumers want. Small businesses are successful when the owners do their research and develop a product or service that resonates with the local community—a loyal customer base is usually not far behind. These business owners have the luxury of doing something they are passionate about, at the same time satisfying consumers’ needs.

Corporations generally lack the advantage small businesses have when it comes to knowing the local community, losing the opportunity to personally ensure a quality customer experience. Successful small businesses operate with integrity, and prioritize their relationships with staff, customers and vendors. There is no price tag on good customer service, but customer feedback quickly illustrates that this is a key selling point for them. Good customer feedback is one of the reasons they choose to give you their business rather than your competitors.

Overall, customers express greater satisfaction with the level of care and customer service small businesses provide them, fostering an ongoing relationship that benefits all parties. Though corporations may have a leg up regarding a proven business model or available resources, the benefits of a being the underdog can make self-employment a rewarding experience and a value to the local community.

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