There seemed to be lots of surprise about Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership by a landslide. What happened, and what can we learn from it?
Out of the four candidates, Corbyn had very strong views, many of which differed from what’s currently “the norm” in politics (though some will say they were the norm 35-40 years ago, and failed). This made him a bit of a Marmite character, you either think he’s brilliant or an idiot.
The other three…well, to the masses, nobody really understood what any of them stood for, or what they’d do differently to the Tories/Ed Milliband. Quite possibly that’s because the current system is generally very good, so doing nothing beyond minor tweaks is the best route forwards, but that hardly makes you exciting to vote for.
I won’t go into the specific politics involved as it’s outside the scope of this post and I’m not clever enough. However there’s two relevant things as far as I’m concerned:
- Corbyn got 59.5% of the vote, three times as many as second place, with just 19%. This despite many considering (rightly or wrongly) his opponents were far more credible candidates.
- If you believe many pundits, under Corbyn Labour will never get into power, as whilst he might appeal greatly to a minority, he won’t be able to convince the majority (ie inc Tory voters). There’s concern Labour could become a minor party, fighting for stuff which only a small section of the population want.
Now, if you’re Amazon, or Tesco, the second point is significant. To appeal to the masses, you need to take great care not to alienate too many people.
However, 99.99% of us don’t run a business anything like Amazon or Tesco. We run tiny businesses, which even in a small niche will unlikely ever cater to more than 10% of the market we’re in…more likely a fraction of 1%. Therefore I think we can learn a great deal from Corbyn’s success (or indeed the rise of UKIP/The Greens/SNP in the 2015 general election).
Corbyn’s recent popularity proves it’s seeing something different that people want. Also having a clear message of what you stand for. Being asked to vote between seemingly identical candidates or parties (who could really distinguish between Labour/Tory proposed policies last election?), it’s no wonder voter numbers go down.
In politics, the first past the post system means minority parties need to do REALLY well to actually achieve anything. In the small business world, thankfully, there is nothing like the first past the post system. Great success can be achieved from only catering to a small section of any market.
So what does this mean for you?
- if you want people to be interested in what you do rather than the competition, make sure you’re actually different to your competitors, and be clear about what you offer/stand for. If you’re just another [accountant/web designer/whatever], no different to all the others, why would anyone be interested.
- as small business doesn’t have any kind of first past the post system, only appealing to a small part of the total audience is absolutely fine. Find a niche you’re passionate about/an expert in. Far better to really appeal to some of the market, than have the entire market ignore you as nothing special.
In the small business world, be like the minor parties. Find a niche sector of the market that’s not getting much focus from the big boys and hammer home how you can help.