Everyone loves an underdog story. David vs. Goliath. Nelson Mandela vs. the South African apartheid regime. Warren Buffett, who began his illustrious career working a newspaper route.
When it comes to businesses, these success stories reaffirm that the little guy does have a chance. You just have to play your proverbial cards correctly and you can take on big competition and win.
Devise business strategies that include these tactics:
Your differentiation strategy needs to come into play here. It’s not enough just to look different on the surface. Sooner or later customers will dig deeper, and when they find your products or services are the same old same old, you’re dead in the water.
To be truly different, leverage the unique aspects of your offering to provide clients with something the big guys can’t. And if it takes being smaller to be able to do so, then make the most of it. One example of this is personal service: there’s little chance that the CEO of a multinational company will take the time to call a client, but the owner of a 10-person business may well be able to do so. And by doing so, he’ll retain customer loyalty throughout all stages of the buying cycle.
Find a Niche
Don’t try to be everything to everyone, even if “everyone” is your potential customer. Unless you have megabucks to throw at your campaigns, your presence in the market is going to be incidental. If you focus on a particular niche market, however, you can make it your own. It doesn’t have to be small, either; it just has to be right. Facebook didn’t start out to conquer the world; it’s business strategies were aimed at creating a social platform for students. The rest followed by itself.
Start Moving and Shaking
Movers and shakers get noticed. They do. Your company may not be the size of the competition, but neither do you carry the amount of dead weight big business typically does. By remaining lean and agile, you can shake up your industry by quoting lower, offering more, changing the way things are done and generally causing enough upheaval to get noticed. Use premium pricing to compete against cut-rate competitors, for example. Some customers won’t like it. You can be sure that there’ll be others who will.
Look for Backup
Sometimes it’s just not possible to take on a commitment alone. As a small company, you might not have the collateral needed to give confidence to a large client. Instead of losing the deal, look for business strategies that enable you to partner with larger players to provide the security your target market needs. You might make less money that way, but in the long term the boost to your credibility will be worth far more than the value you give away.
Come Out of the Closet
Big business is suspect. It’s rude, impersonal and uncaring. Or so many people think, anyway. Small companies, on the other hand, enjoy resounding support from their communities—clients, suppliers, partners and the general public alike. But only if they know about you. So come out of the closet; make your battles public. Just think of maverick group Anonymous (which seems like a bunch of anarchists at best) and think of the public following it enjoys. Whether you agree with the group’s activities or not, there’s no doubt it has enough public support to stand strong against the establishment.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that small is in. Small, privately-owned companies have lower costs, are capable of sustaining personal relationships and offer realistic business models that customers can understand. This translates into trust, which is a priceless commodity and makes for an unbeatable competitive advantage. So don’t worry about being unable to compete with big business; you no longer need to do so.