How Your Small Business Can Compete With Industry Giants

Head to head competition

When it comes to business, it’s a dog eat dog world. So what happens when a huge great dane comes up against a teeny little chihuahua… does the little guy ever really stand a chance?

Across many industries, there are major players. Large corporations who dominate big chunks of the market – which is not surprising as we know that size can offer many benefits.

Economies of scale can enable bigger businesses to better cater for customers when it comes to choice, price and convenience.

But they don’t always come out on top.

As of 2015, small businesses in the UK accounted for 99.3% of the private sector, with SME’s employing over 15.6 million people and turning over a combined annual amount of £1.8 trillion, according to fsb.

Now that doesn’t sound like a sector who are struggling to stand up against the corporate giants – and as a small business in a competitive world, there are a few things that can swing in your favour, even when you’re trying to market your business on a tight budget.

Provide a personal touch

An instant advantage with a smaller set-up is a heightened sense of relationship with the customer.

Of course, an extensive training programme can help large business employees to offer great service, but a more intimate SME environment certainly allows for stronger connections.

A smaller business can have a clearer view of the whole process, so when it comes to customer service and relations, quality can be closely monitored.

60% of UK consumers prefer a balance of price and service and will not accept low service levels in exchange for a lower priced product.

So while the big dogs often focus on keeping prices low, your small business can be using its size to nurture the people-side of operations.

That little extra care and attention is so often associated with a smaller business, mainly due to the personal roots of the company still being a big part of the day-to-day management.

It’s easier to deliver at a consistent level when you are not spread so far and wide. So make special, personalised service a high priority and customer loyalty will follow.

Show your genuine passion

Small businesses often stem from a strong desire. With purpose and passion (outlined by CEO David Brown) considered the strongest drivers of success.

These factors alone can‘t guarantee growth, but keeping them at the heart of what you do will shine through in the products and services that you offer.

Even as a small business grows and scales, passion and purpose should remain clear. It is all too easy though to let growth skew these factors.  It’s particularly important in these early stages to utilise a philosophy to abide by, a brand direction and importantly:

It’s particularly important in these early stages to utilise a philosophy to abide by, a brand direction and importantly: reason to believe. When it comes to making people believe in what you do, there’s no better persuasion tool than your own genuine passion.

Enjoy increased agility

Whether there’s a desire to grow rapidly or not, starting off as a small business offers you many advantages. Agility being one. As a smaller set-up you are able to respond to what’s going on around you without a great deal of upheaval.

Changing market conditions have seen over 70% of companies drop off the Fortune 1000 list over the course of 10 years.

Any business worth their salt knows that they need to move with the times. But with fewer processes and less to lose, smaller businesses can more easily sail with the wind – when it changes.

Big budget campaigns and heavily developed products are benefits of bigger businesses, but increased agility is something that a smaller business can enjoy with much less disruption.

Embrace the startup culture

Start up business

Between the shop local / totally locally movement, and ‘grassroots’ being the buzzword of the moment, small businesses are enjoying a recent flurry of support.

More and more people are backing the startup culture and investing in newer ventures, which is helping to craft a more colourful and varied marketplace for customers.

Although customer loyalty is a strong aim for any business, the opportunity exists for small businesses to benefit from those customers who find themselves shopping around.

Arriving on the scene with a story, and communicating it well, is the best way to lay a foundation for your business.

It’s that communication that will capture people’s attention, which you can then nurture as it turns into support.

Taking a cue from startup culture doesn’t have to mean casual working and anti-corporate processes – it has even gotten a bad reputation for coming across as ‘all play and no work’.

But that reputation doesn’t define the culture as a whole, and there are plenty of benefits to be enjoyed when a small business embraces a modest, grounded beginning.

Be more social

Facebook marketing

As a small business, social media can be your best friend.

With a great social strategy, SMEs can use social media to get their name out there, without the backing of a huge team.

Content planning and effective posting can get your message across and grow your following, without the need for a huge marketing budget.

There are plenty of social media success stories to inspire your approach, with companies using it to offer above and beyond service, to create loveable brands and to engage with customers as effectively as possible.

There is no black and white rule to using your social channels, but the key is to find out how they can serve you.


While the big guys may have the muscle, there are plenty of ways to shine as a smaller business.

By taking the time to refine your strategy, hone your passion and really impress your market, you can lay a solid foundation for unprecedented growth.

Purpose and passion will always be a part of your offering, but they can be much less affected by noise in the early stages.

So tune into them and let them fuel your development. You have the chance, as a smaller set-up, to keep a tight hold on your reputation making sure it grows in the right direction.

For a small business in a competitive world, there are many opportunities to level up the playing field.

With creativity, character and charm, you can stand out amongst the bigger names and even use size to your advantage.

While the big dogs may have the presence, there’s plenty of fight in the little ones – more than enough for the win.

If you’re still struggling for a clear strategy, consider a marketing consultant to help you understand your target audience, objectives and create a plan of action.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.
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