Most startups run into what I call the startup NKTB (New Kid On The Block) syndrome. Its just another way of saying the company is new and you need to build a portfolio or track record before this gets out of the way. While this would be a disadvantage to smaller startups, you are still able to compete against larger companies.
This is especially true for B2B type of businesses. You would often get questions about “who is your biggest client?”, “How many staff do you have?”, or “How many years have you been operating?”. The prospective clients ask those questions even though they have a pretty good idea what the answer would be. Sometimes you don’t just have to compete against larger companies, but you are “competing” for your client acceptance as well. Don’t be put down by those questions, after all, they set aside time to meet you right? It’s just a game of power play and getting leverage.
Here are some great tips from my experience on how to compete against larger companies:
- Be flexible. You want your client’s business, being flexible and customizable when costs allow gives you an edge.
- You are able to go to market with any new strategies or concepts faster than large corporations and get that first mover advantage. Remember, in large corporate hierarchy, the idea approval process has to go bottom up. After the idea has been approved, they need to review the budget, etc, etc.
- Your company is able to adjust to market demands faster than large companies.
- You are the workforce of your company and are doing it with passion. In larger companies, the people doing the work are employees doing their job. Use this to your advantage. Do it better than them. Corporations are made up of regular people like you and I.
- To better compete against larger companies, make sure you have a good branding going on. Design a professional logo, have professional looking brochures and sales material, build a good website. Impression counts and shows you mean business.
- Depending on the industry, large companies have higher overheads. They have executives who fly business class (or first!), they stay in 5 star hotels, and have expensive benefits. Use this to your advantage, as a smaller company, you are able to more easily run some promotions as a client acquisition exercise.
- Form strategic partnerships with other small businesses that complement your business. For example if you offered marketing consulting, tie up with an IT & Web consulting firm and perhaps pitch together as a complete package. Make sure you audit the partner’s work and ability first.
- When competing against larger companies, know that their sales person and the person who will be doing the work may not necessarily be the same. Use this to your advantage because you will be more knowledgeable than the sales person.
- So far most of the tips has been for B2B. If you are in B2C selling to consumers, there is one caveat. The amount of capital does play a part in your marketing. To better compete against larger companies in the B2C sector, find a niche and work on that. Avoid appealing to the masses because that’s what the big boys are doing and they have a much bigger marketing and R&D budget than you.
The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to enter or go against larger players. There are always pros and cons for large and small companies. Find your strengths, and use it to your advantage.