Is It Better to Be Big or Fast?

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On December 22, 2014

BigOrFastWhen we talk about growing a business we tend to focus on size. That’s understandable. You want to increase sales and profitability, but there’s more to the picture than simply being “the biggest”—especially in today’s market space.

First of all, it can be pretty tough to take on the “elephants” in the market. Maybe you don’t have the resources (finances, personnel, networks, infrastructure, etc.) to take on huge corporations. But that doesn’t mean you can’t compete.

How can you compete with larger companies that have more resources? Often, it’s with speed. By speed, I’m not necessarily talking about manufacturing time or production speed. I’m talking about responsiveness. Smaller companies have a distinct advantage in that it’s often much easier for them to adapt to changes in the marketplace.

Adapting, however, requires some effort on your part. First of all, it means you have to be listening to your clients. But in order to listen, you may need to ask questions. What are their biggest challenges? What do they struggle with? What would make their lives and businesses easier? Find out and then figure out if there’s a way that you can make an adaptation that will help them. Don’t act like a big company. Don’t approach them like a lumbering elephant with an attitude of, “this is how it works.” Be nimble. Listen and make changes quickly that serve them better. That’s how you beat the “elephants.”

And then don’t stop doing that if you enjoy some success. If you’re fortunate enough to grow, remember what got you where you are. Be prepared for the new kids on the block who will try to replace you.

The way business is done is changing constantly. You may not be able to compete with the resources of huge companies—but you don’t have to. Stay hungry and learn to be fast in your responses to customers’ needs. That may be your big competitive advantage!