Five simple (yet effective) tips for small businesses competing with big brands

David hook Gioliath

Competing with big brands is a major concern for any small business. Although it may seem a major feat, it is achievable. As a small business, you have the potential to adapt to an ever-evolving market through innovative practices that larger brands are too stubborn to attempt. This provides you with the optimal opportunity to gain an advantage over competitors; a fundamental desire for any budding business owner.

Here is my simple guide for small businesses, looking to give big brands a run for their money (literally).

Get out of the building: Get in front of people in whatever way, shape or form that you can. Don’t try to sell them on your product or service, simply observe and converse with them about their problems and whether your solution addresses them at all. This will help you determine whether you should pivot or continue to iterate and improve in the same direction you had planned (pivot or persevere).

Problems as opportunities:  Readjust your mindset and aim to refine your problem radar. Learn to identify as many problems in your everyday life and treat them as opportunities to develop sound solutions. You will end up with a treasure trove of potentially valuable business concepts. ​​

Build, measure, learn: The build, measure, learn feedback loop refers to continuous iteration and is one of the leading concepts in The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. The idea is you build a minimum viable product, measure the market’s reaction and use your learnings to determine whether you should persevere down the same path or pivot in a different direction.

Do things that don’t scale: It may seem counterintuitive but it is actually one of the main advantages an early-stage start-up has. It’s one of Y-Combinators most renowned pieces of advice and for good reason. Being young and nimble, you’re able to interact more closely with your customer and do things that seem manual and tedious. Door knocking, for example, can provide invaluable insight.

Repeatable framework: The ultimate goal is to create a perfectly tuned, repeatable framework that can be multiplied many times over with the confidence of knowing it will produce favourable results. You can only get there by doing each of the above points well. A virtuous cycle is what makes most start-ups valuable. Take Uber for example more riders attract more drivers, more drivers, in turn, reduces downtime, therefore attracting more riders and so on. Uber has turned their business into a well-oiled machine and has developed a framework that they have duplicated across many global markets.

The biggest takeaway is acknowledging there is no one size fits all solution. What works for one business may not work for another. Remain innovative in your response to opportunities in the market and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. While you’re working out what doesn’t work, you’re also working out what does. You have advantages as a small business, use them.