Responsiveness to Change Defines Successful Small Businesses

ChangeDavid Kiger founded Worldwide Express Operations, LLC, in the mid-1990s with an initial investment of $5,000, and has since developed his Dallas-based company into a major freight shipping partner of UPS. The Worldwide Express 1,000-member team now handles some 10 million packages a year.

David Kiger attributes much of his success to his adaptability to changing conditions. While working for real estate corporation Trammell Crow Company, he identified innovative ways to save money on shipping overhead and used those insights when he started WWE in 1995. In 2008, WWE experienced a major financial shock when its largest partner, DHL International GmbH, pulled out of North America without notice. Kiger was faced with regrouping his operations, but his solid business model so impressed UPS that a new partnership was born. He now regularly advises small business owners through his website.

Experts observe that today’s rate of change will only accelerate, and every part of a company’s operations will experience the effects. Technological innovations have brought numerous new businesses to prominence and just as quickly ended others.

Small businesses are often better poised to succeed in changing market conditions and trends than large corporations. Corporations may be slow to respond to the chance to enter niche markets, while a flexible small company can seize an opportunity. A smaller company can be immediately responsive to customer needs as expressed in conversations about products and services. It’s important to pay careful attention to customers’ comments and queries, whether expressed through social media or in emails or phone calls.

Look at every customer interaction as an opportunity to gain information that can boost business. Record conversations, and monitor blogs and chat rooms where people discuss your field. Set up a page of answers to frequently asked questions on your website. Identify the keywords customers use when talking about your area of expertise, and work with a search engine optimization team to make your site appear prominently in online search results based on them.