As an entrepreneur, it can be very intimidating when you realize that you’re competing against massive companies with years of successful history. Here are some tips that might help you stay a step ahead of your larger competition.
Take over a niche
One of the biggest advantages you have is that you get to pick exactly what your company does. Big companies have enormous bills to pay and greedy investors to please, which forces them to spread themselves across the entire market. If you keep your operation lean, you can make huge profits with a relatively small market share. Stay focused on serving your core group of customers and you’ll see your productivity skyrocket. The smaller your target audience is, the easier it will be to give them exactly what they’re looking for.
Focus on simplicity
Since you get to decide what niche to go after, why not pick one that is simple? In every industry, there are unhappy customers that hate how complicated and impersonal products and services from big companies can be. These people just want helpful customer service and easy-to-understand products. If you commit to serving them, you can keep your business simple and efficient. Just make sure that if you take this advice, you can resist the temptation to over-think things. Simplicity is key.
Spend your time solving real problems
It’s easy to waste time planning for things that may never happen. How will you scale? Do you need office space? How will you support international customers? Obviously you need to be prepared for the future, but the most important problems are the ones that exist right now and those deserve the majority of your attention. If you focus on issues that you know exist rather than ones that you think might exist one day, you’ll end up saving a lot of time that may otherwise be wasted. Tomorrow doesn’t matter if you don’t execute today.
Don’t get too attached to your business model
If there’s one thing that’s always true in the business world, it’s that things will change. Whether it’s because of technology, new laws, public opinion, or any number of other things, you can rest assured that the market you’re in isn’t going to be the same five years from now. Big companies are notoriously bad at adapting, and that’s when you jump in and beat them to the punch. Stay focused on your vision, but don’t be afraid to incorporate new ideas and technology along the way.
Play by your own rules
If you had to compete against Lebron James in one sport, you obviously wouldn’t want it to be basketball. You’ll never beat him at his game, and you’re unlikely to beat a big company at their game. Since you’re the underdog, you get to pick the fight and you can make sure it’s on your terms. You might be tempted to copy big business practices (they’re successful for a reason, right?), but the more you act like the big guys, the harder it will be to stand out.
None of these tips are particularly ground-breaking, but they all have one important concept in common: big businesses can’t do any of these things. Big companies have to plan years in advance. They’re slow to adapt. They can’t focus on a niche. They thrive on complexity. Most important of all, big companies have to act like big companies which makes them very predictable, and very beatable.