SME branding

Top 7 Ways: How The SMEs Can Get Really Lucky!

Here is a true story.

I was with one of the major biscuit brand owners in the country. I asked the gentleman, "there are so many biscuit-makers in the country, how could you become so big among them? What's your success secret?" He looked at me and others in the room, and then, after a long pause he said, "sab devi maa ki kripa hai!" (It's all the blessings of the mother goddess')

I am sure he was trying to be humble. But yet, I meet SMEs regularly and can say with some certainty that there is a strong belief  in the 'Luck Factor' among them. They often say, "We all do hardwork, yet only a few really succeed. Luck should be on your side!"

In these honest and frank conversations we always get some examples like-- "We have a better product than our neighbours but yet they outsell us three times. How could it be possible?" And the patriarch businessman may reveal to you, "That guy came to me and I taught him how to make this product. I helped him get a foothold. Even today he is a novice. Anguthachhap! Luck is on his side. He got some big orders and then things started moving for him."

I can empathise with these emotions. Anyone creating a good quality product, at lower prices, and more know-how in the business must be able to make more sales and profits. But, then luck should also be on your side! 

I have thought deep about this puzzle. What is this luck factor in business?

Let's start with the general understanding of luck. We often say, being lucky is to be in the right place, at the right time with the right people.

Now here are  some of these scenarios in which business owners get lucky--

Luck Factor 1: Favourable Government Policies

In many cases the windfall come as a new government policy which favours a business. We have many current examples ready for us. Early demonetisation days favoured digital payment businesses like PayTM. They got quick downloads and people started using them. Otherwise earlier it was a struggle for them to convince people to download the app. Now their business is getting promoted by the Governement of India as it is promoting digital transactions.

Same is the situation with swachch bharat abhiyan. many people in the cleanliness industry will get a good leap. While people in general are getting more aware of health and hygine issues, the government support has given it a real boost.

Think of LED lighting business, it suddenly got a leap because of govt support. Now between two lighting manufacturers, one who dealt only with traditional lighting will loose out, while one into LED sector would be lucky.

The key here is to understand which businesses are in-line with the future trends. Sooner or later the government will favour those industries. For example Green and environment friendly businesses will get a support from the policy makers.

Smart City is the current opportunity. What can you do to make your city better? Does your business has the potential to go across India with some aspect of your product or skill capabilities, do you have something to offer for the Smart City planners and implementors?

Apart from these, govt announces many schemes for women entrepreneurs, smart SMEs take advantage of these schemes by getting their spouse in the picture.

Action Point: Is your business, in with the upcoming world trends? Closely monitor government policies and see what could be your point of leverage.

Luck Factor 2: Advent of New Technology

Sometimes a new technology suddenely changes the business scenario. It changes market dynamics in a big way and old establishments go out of business, while new entrants ride on the technology wave to the top.

Silicon valley startups are the most prominent examples. Even in Indian subcontinent many SMEs and startups took advantage of new technology to get ahead. Flipkart and was not possible without internet and good connectivity. An SME company  Opportune Technologies used cloud storage technology to make their mark in HR automation area and in a short span got to the top of the biometric attendance system industry. They are now using Internet of Things technology to create even more success stories.

Action Point: Look for the emerging technology trends. Technology is gaining traction in all industries. Those who will ride on the new technology, or will adopt it well, will have a competitive advantage in the future. Those SMEs who understand it will get 'lucky'. If your current products and business are getting older, look for new avenues. Invest some money in new ventures. Add elemnts of the 'new world' to your existing business. Think like a startup.

Luck Factor 3: Major Competitor Goes Out of Business Or Leave Your Industry

In today's world, it is difficult to consistently earn high profits. And companies keep watching the ROI on every penny they spend. So, even while your competition is well established in the marketplace, in the portfolio of their parent company it might not be profitable enough to run it.

Some years back, Unilever had called off many  brands. Many of the remaining brands were merged into single entities. It was a good chance for local players all over the country.

In such cases, the entrepreneurs who can take a quick lead will get the major share. Sometimes,  while the big brands may remain in the business, the parent company doesn't invest more toward its growth. They just want to take as much profit as they can before getting out after a few years.

Action Points: A good market intelligence is important. Smart SMEs keep a watch on these trends by  conducting job interviews with the competitor's employees. They come to know many inside stories through these sessions. Industry journalsits and vendors are also a good source of information. Do  follow the CEOs of these bigger brands, carefully read in between the lines as you go through their interviews.

Luck Factor 4: Non-paid Celebrity Endorsement

In the film Sultan, Salman khan was sponsored by Kukreja brand pressure cooker. Now, in real life there actually is one Mr Kukreja who deals in aluminium. He suddenely started getting calls for Kukreja Pressure cookers! Suddenly his brand was well known. His website started getting hits. He did not pay anything for in-film placement and yet he got the Salman's 'endorsement'.

Now, don't think it can only happen in the fictional film world. Even in the real world, some celebrity might like one of your product and can talk about it in the press. Some experts in your field can talk about your product as an example and again more people will look for you.

The key here is, many celebrities are keen to do social work. If your product is related to such activities you can get a chance in various forums to be seen by them, in certain circumstances they might use your product in front of people.  

It's not an endorsement, yet it works for you. I always suggest my friends and clients to look into their network, everyone has some approach to a well known personality. It need not be a direct endorsement for your product or brand, many a times  even a category mention can help you. For example, if an actress says in an interview that she uses sandalwood powder for her beauty needs, many women will start looking for sandalwood powders. A smart businessman will sure use this statement to further his business.

Action Point: Find out the connection between your products and the celebrities. Do a thorough research and you will find some celebrities who are interested in your product and related activities.

Luck Factor 5: Celebrated Clients

Sometimes your clients may not be celebrities but are well-known in their own industries or fields. These clients are influential and their word gets a weight in their industry. Their good words help to expand your business in that industry.

Sometimes you get a breakthrough in a company which is well known and other companies start working with you, they think if you are good enough for leaders, you are good for them too. Or, a manager on the client side likes your product or solution and talks about it in industry forums and you start getting enquiries.

Action Point: Look for established clients and their business even at a very low margin. Look to it from the point of view of creating a case study which can be cited by industry people. Your sales people can also use this case study to convert prospective business in your favor.

Luck Factor 6: Entry of an influential relative in the picture.

There are many examples where the businesses took a huge leap after one of the relative or friend got into an influential position. For example, your brother-in-law gets elected as an MLA, or a close friend becomes a minister. That's like luck smiling on you. It can open many gates for you. You might get insider information to win businesses, govt tenders and other opportunities. In fact such a closeness may motivate other business people to do business with you on a preferential basis.

While Mr Vadra might be the most well-known example here, we all have many such examples in our own networks.

Action Point: This is mostly pure luck. But some people may take a conscious decision to get a family member into politics and back him with funds to improve his chances of success. You can also look for marriage connections in such influential families. Another proactive strategy is to befriend bureaucrats in influential positions by becoming members of various clubs and forums, where they are often found. Even a common religious guru is a good connecting point. Keep your eyes open and you will find many more such connections.

Luck Factor 7: A Visionary Mentor

This is a real winner. Many businesses are transformed because of the entry of a true genius in the picture. This mentor could be a industry expert who knows things inside out, or a man with a good pulse of the consumers. A good mentor will help you find the hidden gems in your business, he or she will unlock the  business potential for your organisation.  They will find the 'True point of difference' between you and your competitors. And then help you package your products and services in a manner which will underline this difference, and tilt the scales in your favour vis-s-vis the competition.

For example, a true branding mentor will find out the winning points for your business, will devise strategies to help you generate qualified leads, and then will help you convert them into real sales. You may not realise, even a boost of 5 to 10% increase in qualified leads will make you 'lucky'. Because it turns into a 'cumulative advantage'.

Once you start getting better clients, at a better price, your client acquisition cost go down. Which means you can put more money in your branding and you reach a far larger client base. Which converts into more leads and sales.

This 'Small Difference' between you and your competitors is really the 'Luck Factor'. It can happen because of a influential relative, or a celebrity endorsement, or a genius mentor.

But the  real secret lies in making this 'small difference' sustainable over time. If we can create a system to gain advantage through this "small difference', we will grow our business at a much faster rate.

That's why I say, while the government policies, influential relatives etc can help you get lucky, the real luck is in 'discovering the true potential in your business' and being able to create systems which can exploit the advantage in your favour.

Action Point: Proactively look out for potential mentors. Such mentors could be your uncle, a retired govt official, or a professional consultant who has a proven track record.

Like celebrities many of these experts feel happy to work with SMEs. They want to share their knowledge and are driven by personal goals. If they see passion in you, they can help you by going out of the way. Ask for help. Put them as advisories on your board. Hire them as mentors, even for only 1 day a month. Your interaction with them will open your eyes to many new opportunities. You will avoid many costly pitfalls.

This could be the best way to attract the goddess of luck in your business!
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About the author:

Puneet Bhatnagar is a branding and advertising mentor, he was Creative Head at Star News, has created many well known advertising campaigns like Star News: Apko Rakhey Agey, Tata Namak: Desh Ka Namak, and many more.

He mentors SME businesses to get to the next level with great success. 
You can join his SME Branding Boot Camp to get your business to the next level.

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