How Can a Small Business Compete With “Fast & Cheap”

Check out this recent article from Forbes on how a small business can compete with the prices and services capabilities of larger companies:

Growing up in the heart of what was once the furniture capital of world, I saw the devastating negative effects that outsourcing had on my native North Carolinia. With numerous companies moving their manufacturing operations overseas, over 50 percent of our furniture jobs evaporated during my childhood, leaving many of my family friends struggling to make ends meet.

I knew from that young age that I wanted to create opportunity in my community so that good, hardworking people could wake up in the morning and proudly go to a job that enabled them to provide for their families. Perhaps I was naive, but after several years of business experience and an MBA at Wharton, I returned home to do just that. I reconnected with my childhood best friend, James Broyhill, who had recently started Heritage Handcrafted, a company that designs and manufactures handcrafted furniture and gifts from aged whiskey, wine and scotch barrels. A woodcraftsman since youth and the great-grandson of the founder of Broyhill Furniture, I knew James “saw dust in his veins” and, like me, was eager to give back to the Tarheel State, so I was excited to partner with him.

But in an economy dominated by cheap foreign imports, Heritage Handcrafted — with its handcrafted products and fourweek lead times — stood in stark contrast to its competitors. The question was, could a handcrafted company ever be successful? If so, how?

This dilemma is not unique to us, but the recent success of companies like Uncommon Goods, CustomMade and Etsy is encouraging. Etsy’s case especially: Despite being only 9 years old, this merchandiser has had over $1 billion in sales, a 90% spike since 2011. Moreover, the Etsy community now has over 30 million members from more than 200 countries. And investors are taking notice; the online bazaar of handmade goods has raised over $91 million in funding since its inception in 2005.

And who are the biggest sellers on Etsy? Handmade jewelry and furniture makers.

To compete against better capitalized players with cheaper offerings, the key to success is creating processes that streamline operations while retaining handcrafted allure, creating truly one-of-a-kind products, and developing a brand that highlights higher-end sophistication.

 

For the original article, click here.

 

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