小型企業的優勢──THE ADVANTAGES OF A SMALL BUSINESS

你是否注意到,開始做些什麼是多麽容易,但要完成它卻往往很困難?這就是企業失敗的原因之一。某人有個傑出的點子,帶著無限的熱情,開始在我的職業生涯中,我曾在大型公司和小型企業工作過。我個人更喜歡在小型企業工作,因為它們可以提供以下幾個優勢。首先是在地的決策權。當我在銀行業工作時,對客戶而言,沒有什麽比被告知自己的貸款申請,已被另一個城市的委員會所拒絕,更讓他們沮喪的了。許多客戶更喜歡與小型企業或小型銀行做生意,因為他們可以直接接觸到,能作決定的總經理。

正如所羅門王在傳道書8章4節中所觀察到的:王的話本有權力,誰敢問他說”你做甚麼呢?”」當你是一個擁有客戶決策權的小型企業主時,你實質上是在「國王」的位置。向潛在客戶強調這個優勢是很有智慧的。

小型企業的第二個令人意外的優勢,可能是資源有限。這種「有限」可以讓你找到,更經濟有效的方案,以降低你的價格。我哥哥被他的老板要求為一個大型數據庫項目招標。他收到了900萬美元、700萬美元和95萬美元的投標。前兩個投標來自大公司,最後一個投標來自一家小型企業。他們怎麼可以提供這麽大差異的價格呢?

小型企業主向我哥哥解釋說:「其實我的競爭對手也可以用我給你的價格來做,但是他們有著龐大的營運成本,而且他們知道你能付得起幾百萬美元。」最後我哥哥選擇了那家最低的投標公司,而且他們也在預算範圍內,按時完成了工作!正如箴言28章11節所教導的:「富足人自以為有智慧,但聰明的貧窮人能將他查透。」

小型企業擁有的第三個優勢,是對客戶期待的快速回應。在新冠疫情大流行開始之前,我的機構Unconventional Business Network(非常規企業聯盟)主要是舉辦現場活動。我們在舉辦虛擬活動方面沒有什麽經驗。然而,當一個現場活動因新冠相關的規定,而不得不取消時,我們禱告如何繼續滿足客戶的需求。

在幾天之內,我們就開發並推廣了一個虛擬活動,結果觸及到了,那些原本不可能現場參加,並來自世界各地的人。這個解決方案,讓我想起了詩篇40篇13節,詩篇作者在其中懇求上帝:「耶和華啊,求你開恩搭救我!耶和華啊,求你速速幫助我!」當你的客戶有緊急需求時,小型企業的一個賣點是能夠快速回應,而不被大公司的官僚主義和繁文縟節所束縛。

小型企業可以使用的第四個優勢是個性化的服務。隨著企業規模的擴大,他們通常會建立系統和流程,使產品標準化,以獲取更大的利潤。這也導致決策和貸款,是由那些從未見過客戶的人做出的。相較之下,小型企業可以根據客戶的獨特要求來制定他們的服務。
這也導致了第五個優勢。提供本地產品和服務。耶穌專注於關心個人的需求,而用比喻去幫助那些影響力有限的人。他在最後說:「王要回答說:『我實在告訴你們,這些事你們既做在我這弟兄中一個最小的身上,就是做在我身上了。』(馬太福音25章40節)如果潛在客戶知道你關心他們,知道你是他們群體的一部分,而不是一個,僅僅試圖擴大業務的局外人,那麼你就有優勢獲得客戶的忠誠了。

@2022版權所有,經許可改編自 “UBN誠信時刻”,關於職場工作中信仰議題的評論。UBN是一個服務小型企業界的國際性職場信仰事工。UBN的官網: www.unconventionalbusiness.org

備註:如果你有聖經,想閱讀更多的內容,可以考慮以下的經文:

箴言2章6節
2:6因為,耶和華賜人智慧;知識和聰明都由他口而出。
箴言19章20節
19:20 你要聽勸教,受訓誨,使你終久有智慧。
箴言27章23節
27:23 你要詳細知道你羊群的景況,留心料理你的牛群;
馬太福音7章12節
7:12 所以,無論何事,你們願意人怎樣待你們,你們也要怎樣待人,因為這就是律法和先知的道理。」
路加福音6章31節
6:31 你們願意人怎樣待你們,你們也要怎樣待人。
帖撒羅尼加前書2章7-12節
2:7 只在你們中間存心溫柔,如同母親乳養自己的孩子。
2:8我們既是這樣愛你們,不但願意將神的福音給你們,連自己的性命也願意給你們,因你們是我們所疼愛的。
2:9弟兄們,你們記念我們的辛苦勞碌,晝夜做工,傳神的福音給你們,免得叫你們一人受累。
2:10我們向你們信主的人,是何等聖潔、公義、無可指摘,有你們作見證,也有神作見證。
2:11你們也曉得我們怎樣勸勉你們,安慰你們,囑咐你們各人,好像父親待自己的兒女一樣,
2:12要叫你們行事對得起那召你們進他國、得他榮耀的神。

反省與問題討論

  1. 如果你曾經在大公司和小型企業都工作過,你更喜歡哪一個,為什麽?
  2. 我們經常會認為大型企業,具有更大的財務資源,可以有更多的員工,從事不同面向的工作,以及能夠因大量採購而產生有利議價空間等優勢。然而,我們並不經常聽到小型企業也可以提供優勢。你認為原因是什麽呢?
  3. 在本文所列舉的小型企業優勢中,哪一個對你來說最重要呢?
  4. 你是否認為,即使你在一家較大的公司工作,也可以盡些努力達到小型企業可以提供的一些優勢呢?請解釋你的答案。


THE ADVANTAGES OF A SMALL BUSINESS

By Rick Boxx

Over the course of my career, I have worked with large corporations and small businesses. I have personally preferred working in small businesses because of several advantages they can offer. The first is local decision-making authority. When I worked in banking, nothing frustrated customers more than being told their loan request had been denied by a committee in another city. Many customers prefer doing business with a small business or bank where they can reach the CEO who can make decisions. 

As King Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes 8:4, “Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “‘What are you doing?’” When you are a small business owner with the authority to make customer decisions, you essentially are serving as “the king.” It would be wise to promote that advantage to prospective customers. 

A surprising second advantage for small businesses can be limited resources. This “limitation” can for you to find cost-effective solutions that can allow you to charge lower prices. My brother once was asked by his boss to obtain bids for a large database project. He received bids for $9 million, $7 million, and $950,000. The first two bids were from large companies; the last one was from a small business. How could they account for such a great difference?

The small business owner explained to my brother, “My competitors could do it for the price I have given you, but they have huge overhead and know you can afford to pay millions.” My brother chose to go with the lowest bidder – and they finished the job on time and under budget! As Proverbs 28:11 teaches, “The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.” 

A third advantage available to small businesses is rapid response to customer desires. Until the COVID pandemic began, Unconventional Business Network had primarily hosted live events. We had little experience in hosting virtual events. However, when one of our live events had to be cancelled due to pandemic-related regulations, we prayed about how to continue meeting our constituents’ needs.  

Within days we had developed and promoted a virtual event that resulted in reaching people from all over the world, many that never could have attended in person. This solution reminded me of Psalm 40:13, in which the psalm writer pleaded to God, “Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.” When your customers have urgent needs, a selling feature for small business is being able to respond promptly without being encumbered by the bureaucratic red tape of a large corporation.

The fourth advantage small businesses can utilize is personalized service. As businesses grow larger, they typically build systems and processes for standardizing products and making them more profitable. This also results in decisions and loans being made by people who never meet the customers. By comparison, smaller businesses can tailor their services to the unique requirements of their customers.

This leads to a fifth advantage: Offering local products and services. Jesus emphasized caring for individual needs with a parable about helping people with limited influence. He concluded by saying, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). If potential customers know you care and that you are part of their community, not an outsider merely trying to expand business, you have an edge in gaining customer loyalty.

Copyright 2022, Unconventional Business Network. Adapted with permission from “UBN Integrity Moments”, a commentary on faith at work issues. Visit www.unconventionalbusiness.org UBN is a faith at work ministry serving the international small business community.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. If you have worked in both large corporations and small businesses, which have you preferred – and why?
  2. We often think of large business enterprises as having the advantages of greater financial resources, more people engaged in different aspects of the work, and the leverage of being able to purchase products in larger quantities. However, we do not often hear about the advantages a small business can offer. Why do you think that is?
  3. Which of the small business advantages cited seems most significant to you?
  4. Do you think that even if you work in a larger corporation, efforts could be made to incorporate some of the advantages that a small business can offer? Explain your answer.

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:     Proverbs 2:6, 19:20, 27:23; Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12


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