So much has already been said about what smaller, fresh companies need to do in order to gain a competitive edge in a well-developed market, but how often do you think about what those well-established businesses should do to achieve the same?

As strange as it may sound, no brand is safe from throne usurpation when it comes to fresh blood entering the market with a brilliant idea, and that’s precisely what startups stand for – innovation.

Your long-standing reputation has its advantages, but startups have their own appeal in this fast-paced world of ever-changing consumer needs. Let’s take a moment to focus on that: consumer needs. Because that is precisely the driving force that has enabled the surge of startups currently taking the world by storm, and that dictates the movement of industries. Your brand depends on making your consumers happy, in the face of rising competition with creative ideas.

Here are a few of your own to implement innovative solutions to your infrastructure and your business in general in order to meet the needs of your customers and protect your authority in your industry riddled by startups.

Implement flexibility in your employee arrangements

Change is at the heart of innovation, and change is the lifeblood of startups. They thrive in flexible conditions, and they aren’t encumbered by the necessity for adjustments; it’s in their DNA. Well-established companies, on the other hand, often suffer from some form of rigidity in their operations and structure, which limits their capability to foresee, let alone greet a change in the pace of the market, or the needs of their customers or employees.

This is perhaps the very first step you should take when you realize that change is inevitable if you want to stay at the forefront of your industry. You should, in fact, take the lead. Although even some of the oldest brands have already accepted a more flexible work pace, you can do more than just allow employees causal Fridays. Consider letting them determine the best work hours for optimal productivity, change the office floor plan to something more collaborative, offer remote work, and hire remote teams. Flexibility is a must for any brand to meander through this competitive time.

Utilize the cloud to your advantage

Big businesses like to retain control, and they love the idea of having everything on site. Alas, your growth capabilities, your security measures, your business process agility, and many other features are limited when you have a limited, let’s say, IT sector sitting in an office in your building. What large companies can do to have the scalability and the foresight of young startups is to utilize enterprise cloud computing solutions that are designed precisely for such situations – to facilitate growth and ensure top-of-the-line security measures.

Managing your data on scalable, agile cloud platforms dedicated to your business is much more efficient for your budget, your internal structure, and your employees alike. You’ll be able to reallocate your resources better, and you’ll be prepared for any upcoming changes in the market with an agile solution such as the cloud.

Go above and beyond to understand your customer

First and foremost, you exist to serve your customers. Too many companies that have existed for a while take their position for granted, and they fail to observe, let alone predict, the changing preferences of their audience. This misstep alone can cost your business not just popularity, but loyalty and profit down the line. To be able to retain your customer base and keep attracting new ones, you need to make sure you understand their needs in the face of change.

When was the last time you used customer analytics tools to delve deeper into their behavioral patterns and recognize trends that move your industry? How about the last time you impressed and caused a surge in engagement with an innovative campaign relevant to your audience? Ongoing research with the help of cutting-edge software tools is what you need in order to stay competitive no matter how many startups join the market. The knowledge you gather on your audience can help you stay relevant.

Embrace change

People love trends and they respond to efforts made in the spirit of common values. As a simple, but picturesque example, personalization has become somewhat of a must for today’s companies. Coca Cola has been the most beloved beverage for decades now, but they were among the first to use simple marketing tactics such as adding names to each can they sell to bond with their buyers. And that’s just one of many similar, incredibly simple examples they’ve successfully used to stay on top.

Your own business, no matter how successful its current offer may be, needs to change regularly. Change what you offer and how you offer it based on your customers’ needs. Maybe they’d appreciate free shipping, online payment options, gift certificates, freebies, competitions, customized products, you name it. Although the essence of your brand can and should remain the same, the change should become a part of your DNA, too.

The world is a fast-paced one, and thanks to technology, innovation, and creativity, even some of the most long-standing businesses stand a chance in the face of the rising startups. Use these tips to drive innovation in your own business, and use your established presence to inspire loyalty as well as growth.

About the author

Emma Miller is a marketer and a writer from Sydney, working with Australian startups on business and marketing development. Emma writes for many relevant, industry related online publications and does a job of an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University.