If the last two decades have taught us anything, it is the reality that small firms can quickly become leaders in their industry. Some of the largest Fortune 500 companies today were merely startup companies in the early Millennium, taking full advantage of a technological revolution to outperform their competitors and achieve unprecedented growth.
Today, competition with large firms is still invariably one of the greatest challenges small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face. Contrasting with small firms, large enterprises have a plethora of resources and can achieve economies of scale, making it easier for them to underbid their competitors. Nevertheless, SMBs can remain competitive in this environment, as several advantages come from being small.
The Advantages of Being a Small Engineering Business
In many cases, small firms are more agile, notwithstanding the preconceived notion that larger firms can move faster due to their larger workforce. Conversely, large enterprises are often bound to corporate bureaucracy, delaying processes and ultimately placing constraints on how they do business. Also, since SMBs typically have a smaller client base, their better suited to cater to the individualized demands of their customers and are prepared to make exceptions when needed. This flexibility, however, requires deliberate action as small firms carry the obligation to prove that they are as capable, if not more capable than their larger brethren.
In essence, small firms need to regulate the perception that their potential lack of personnel is a weakness but instead present it to prospects as an advantage. Many contracting companies subscribe to the fallacy SMBs are incapable of achieving high-quality results within the same timeframe as larger firms. And, while small firms still need to keep their projects within the breadth of their organization’s capabilities, much of which they aim to achieve proceeds from hiring the best engineers for the job. In this case, educating customers about the expertise offered by their engineers is the best way to handle apprehensive prospects.
While organizations need to have a team with a track record of success, this is difficult to exhibit unless your team has experience working on large projects. SMBs need to showcase the projects they have completed and outline to prospective clients the achievements of their engineers as individuals.
The Advantages of Being a Large Company
There is not much to say about large firms aside from the obvious. Large firms have a critical yet intangible asset that most small firms lack – their reputation. Established organizations may have an easier time obtaining public projects, as public organizations often use their reputation and brand equity as the foundation for their search. Large companies also typically have access to more capital, and therefore can launch extensive marketing campaigns, hire large multidisciplinary teams, and invest heavily in research and development.
Additionally, large companies can offer better compensation packages, enabling them to hire some of the best and brightest engineers. Although not all engineers are interested in working for a large firm, it may be difficult for smaller companies to meet their staffing requirements, as the employment landscape is becoming much more competitive in these fields.
What can smaller firms do to counteract the advantages larger firms have. Smaller firms can level the playing field by implementing digital solutions in their business. While small firms may not have the funding or workforce to compete with larger firms, they can reduce their employee’s workload by automating activities to improve the productivity of their workers and achieve profit margins closer to what large organizations command.
While it's clear small businesses may not be well-equipped to handle all projects that get thrown their way, they can still improve their chance of winning a bid over their larger competitors (or other small businesses) by implementing a robust workflow and document management solution, like ImageSite. Managing files, document versions, and the workflows that encompass them are essential to engineering processes and if companies can automate their workflow management procedures, they should can improve their competitive advantage as well.
For more information on ImageSite or Engine-Box (the Cloud version of ImageSite) visit https://www.eQuorum.com/.