How can small businesses compete with big brands?

In this piece, we look at five tips to ensuring your small operation can stack up with and compete against the big boys.

Owning a small business gives you the freedom to run things your own way, and many people quit their jobs and build a business so they can escape the corporate world.

However, all businesses have to stay ahead of the competition, and in certain industries this means taking on global businesses.

While you might not overtake them in size, there are lots of ways your business can carve out their own place in the industry, and win customers away from big businesses.

Offer a personal service

One complaint that many clients have when dealing with big businesses is the lack of personal service.

When they call big businesses with an enquiry, they’re often bandied around, and may deal with multiple people.

However, as a small business, you can build close relationships with your clients. Some of the ways you can offer a really personal service include having dedicated account managers, getting rid of automated phone systems, and spending time developing close relationships with each client.

Make the most of your online presence

The great thing about running a small business in the digital age is that you can compete on the global stage with big brands.

Your small business can have a website that’s just as professional as the major players, and by using the services of a professional SEO company, you can get higher in search engine rankings. With the right website, you could encourage people to use your firm, and move away from the bigger names.

Network with other small businesses

One way that small businesses can become more effective is to network with others in a similar position. Big firms will often offer a wide range of products and services, which you won’t be able to compete with, but if you have preferred suppliers or can refer people, then you’ll be able to offer more to customers.

If you’re after bigger clients, you may even want to team up with similar companies in the local area for large projects, as you’ll be able to pool resources.

Stay ahead of trends

A disadvantage that big clients will have over your small firm is that it’s difficult for them to implement changes or launch new services.

As a small business, you enjoy what’s known as agility, which means you can respond easily to change.

If you notice a gap in the market, or a new trend emerging, it’s easy for you to offer a new product or service, while a big firm will have to deal with national rollouts and major marketing campaigns.

Make sure you know what’s going on in your industry, and make connections with those in the know.

Find a niche

Some small businesses fail early on because they try to deliver too much. Most smaller companies benefit from providing a niche products or services, focusing on the things they’re best at, and becoming experts in a certain field.

If your small business is having trouble competing with big firms, then it might be worth looking at whether you are spreading yourself too thin, and whether you’d benefit from carving out more of a niche.

Although it’s difficult for small firms to compete with the giants, especially in a difficult economy, it’s not impossible to run a successful small business.

It’s all about playing up the strengths that you have as a smaller firm, from business agility to personal levels of service.

Concentrate on these positives, and you’ll no doubt find that people are tempted away from the big firms, and want to give your company a try.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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