Business Online Journal
Stand Up Tall: 4 Ways SMBs Can Compete Against Giant Corporations
By: Ramon Ray
Published: February 23, 2016, 8:00 pm

Small businesses often feel like they can’t compete against the big players in their industry, but I’d argue against that.

Sure, you may not have the deep pockets of a large corporation, but there are still plenty of reasons why a customer should choose you over the matter their (or your) size.

Here’s how you can stand out against the behemoths.

Related Article: Always Be Creating: How Successful Entrepreneurs Get Inspired

1. Be Nimble When They Can’t

Being able to quickly pivot when your industry or technology requires it is essential to remain competitive. And here’s a secret: it’s much easier for you to stay agile than it is large companies that require layers of red tape just to dot an “i.”

Because you’re small, you can tweak your products or strategy to meet customer demand almost instantaneously.

Whether that means you create a new landing page to target a different demographic or modify the services you offer, most changes can be made with a quick turnaround time, putting you at the head of the class.

An Example in Action:

When digital cameras prevailed, Kodak refused to roll with the times, determined to believe it could continue to sell film for cameras. Now imagine the little camera supply shop on the corner.

By reducing inventory of film and film cameras and instead focusing on the new digital cameras, this small business could nimbly respond to shifts in the industry, whereas Kodak took years to find a new foothold.

Related Article: The State of Small Businesses in 2015

2. Be Personal

When you think of Apple, Nike, or Pepsi, you think of a corporation, not the people that make up the company. But when you think about your dry cleaner, your favorite restaurant, or your accountant, you probably picture a person.

Likely the business owner. That’s the real value of a small business: you can have a relationship with someone who cares about you as a customer, and will do whatever it takes to make your experience a happy one.

An Example in Action:

Take a common situation like customer service. With a corporation, a customer calls a number, punches in a few more prompts, then sits on hold to wait for one of hundreds of service reps to assist her.

But you’ve got a remarkable opportunity to really connect with that same customer when she calls you. After all, you might be the only one answering the phone.

And because you care about your customers, you will go the exta mile to offer support.

3. Embrace New Technology and Tools

If you paid attention when social media launched, you noticed that small businesses were earlier in embracing it than many corporations (many still don’t use it well).

While a tweet might have to get approved by the legal department at a large company, you have the freedom to try out and leverage any tool or technology you like.

The benefit of doing so is that you’ll be an early adopter and establish your brand as a thought leader early in the game.

An Example in Action:

There are rumors that Twitter is going to remove the 140-character limit on tweets.

If that happens, brands of all sizes will scramble to figure out how to leverage it. While your giant competitor holds dozens of strategy meetings to figure it out, you can be testing out your own efforts in real time.

Related Article: Small Business Apps Guaranteed to Make Your Life Easier

4. Charge Less, Thanks to Lower Overhead

While a race to the bottom of the barrel price wise is never a good strategy, you likely can beat out larger companies simply because you don’t have the overhead they have, especially if you’re in a services industry.

Not having to pay hundreds of employees salary and benefits, an enormous electricity bill, or rent for that Madison Avenue office building, means you can run lean and pass the savings on to your customers.

An Example in Action:  

Consider marketing firms. Yes, there is a certain amount of caché in hiring a top-tier marketing firm, but are the results any better than the home-based firm down the street?

Likely not. And the business owner of the smaller firm can ensure that every client is getting what they need, whereas larger firms have so many employees, it’s hard to know what’s going on.

Don’t write off the possibility that you can compete against large corporations.

Customers don’t necessarily care how large the company they buy from is, as long as they’re getting their needs met and feel valued.