I saw this picture in a store window recently and it reminded me of a conversation I had last spring with a new prospect. They were planning to use a major research company to handle their project and wanted to know why they should consider me instead. Instead of just screaming, “BECAUSE I’M AWESOME!!!!” I gave them a few points to consider.
- I don’t take on too many clients. Big research companies have dozens of projects flowing through their systems at any time. I’ve learned that the maximum number of projects I can handle in a way that leaves everybody happy is 4-6. This way, my clients get personalized attention– and I get to know their business and their needs in a way a bigger company might not be able to.
- I handle every part of every project. With larger companies, there’s a salesperson and a project manager and a programmer and a data processing team. Sometimes it’s hard to know when the project passes from one person to another, and sometimes wires get crossed. When I’m running a project, I know exactly what’s happening every step of the way (usually because I’m doing most of the work myself!).
- I’m nimble. This word gets thrown around a lot in the business world, but I think it fits here. Here’s an example. For efficiency’s sake, I pay invoices once a month. All my collaborators and vendors get paid on the last Friday of the month. Recently, a fellow freelancer explained that she was having some serious cash flow problems and asked if I could pay her sooner. Answer: Of course. Since invoices don’t have to go through three departments and six layers of approval, I can pay them quickly. The same nimbleness applies to all of my processes, from revision policies to scheduling.
- I can still be big if needed. Thanks to my hive of collaborators, I can still take on projects that are too big for one person. Fifty interviews in a week? Two hundred charts in three days? No problem…I have people.
The prospect was convinced by all four points, and I won the work! Moral of this story: Support small businesses!