Small business success secret: Team up with big brands

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When it comes to small business, there is the proverbial good news and bad news. The good news is that you are small. The bad news is . . . that you are small.

Let’s drill down into that a bit:

On the upside, as opposed to big businesses, a small business is nimble; we can make decisions quickly, pivot pretty easily, interact with customers very personally and, all in all, enjoy the many benefits that come with being a small business. On many levels, it’s great.

But, that said, there are definite downsides as well to being a small business. The main one is that small businesses often look small. We have neither the financial wherewithal nor the expertise and resources that big businesses have. We can’t spend like they do, that’s for sure. Many consumers like working with big business for that very reason – they want the “security” that comes with a name brand.

So, what is a small business to do?

The answer is – blend the best of both worlds. How? By teaming up with a great big business brand. By doing that, you get to stay small and nimble, but you also get to look big and professional. By offering name brands in your shop or on your website, by doing business with branded business customers, you not only get the beautiful co-branding patina of having such partners, but also, you get to use and/or sell their great products. It’s a win-win.

Let me give you an example: I recently spoke with Zack McDonald, the founder of TUI Total Solutions out of central Florida, near Daytona Beach. TUI offers print solutions to businesses throughout the region.

McDonald started TUI in 1988, after he left the Marines. It started out as most businesses do – small, very small, and with lots of competition. Think about the many different print shops and copier companies in your area. There are probably a lot. That is where McDonald started, too. But TUI has grown to become one of the top print solutions companies in central Florida and, in fact, is the No. 1 Xerox office solutions dealer in all of Florida. TUI now also has a budding partnership with none other than NASCAR.

So, just how did McDonald and his partner grow their small business into such a bigger business?

Partnerships. Partnerships with name brands like Xerox. Here’s how they put it:

We credit success in this highly competitive industry to three key points: Listening to our customers, giving back to our community, and aligning ourselves with the leading manufactures in the document technology industry. Our partnerships with the industry leaders, like Xerox, combined with over 30 years of experience, strategically positions us and gives us the ability to provide our clients the best office products and technology available.

When I asked McDonald about these partnerships, he was effusive. “It just made a lot of sense for us,” he said. “We are based in Daytona Beach, near the Daytona International Speedway. Once we started helping NASCAR with their copier needs locally, and showed them what Xerox’s new products could do for them, it made sense to everyone to look to take that partnership national.”

The same thinking has been true with regard to the partnership with Xerox. TUI has been a Xerox dealer since 2013, and Xerox’s latest line of ConnectKey printers and multifunction devices not only impressed him, “it impressed NASCAR too.” That they are great for his small business customers, too, isn’t lost on this entrepreneur. “Xerox products are top-shelf, intuitive, and scalable for small business,” he said, adding, “and it doesn’t hurt that the Xerox name is a big deal.”

Now, that’s a branding strategy any small business can duplicate.