13 Sure-Fire Ways to Beat Large Business

Thu May 25, 2023

In among the many steps to selling a business you should consider finding good providers of family business coaching and consulting, a trusted business advisor who will be integral in helping you beat large business competitors.  

Competing with big businesses can be challenging for small businesses, but it's not impossible. Here are some strategies that small businesses can employ to improve their competitiveness:

Outmaneuver Them

A small business is like a speedboat that can maneuver quickly, slow down or speed up as needed, and turn around completely in a much smaller space than a battleship (a larger business) can. A new strategy may take a large business three months to develop and implement. You could execute it in three days. Capitalize on flexibility and adaptability. Being small allows you to be flexible, make quick decisions, and adapt to market changes faster than larger competitors. Stay alert to market trends, listen to customer feedback, and be willing to adjust your strategies accordingly.

Offer Genuine Personal Attention

Small businesses can offer real personal attention, greeting customers by name and having a brief conversation with them when they enter their establishments. Customer service is more than screaming, ‘‘Hello!’’ indiscriminately when someone walks into a store. I find this particular activity, conducted mostly by the larger U.S.- based chain stores, to be somewhat unsettling and in many cases, quite insincere. Provide exceptional customer service. Small businesses have the advantage of being more agile and responsive to customer needs. Offer personalized attention, quick response times, and go the extra mile to exceed customer expectations. Building strong relationships with your customers can give you a competitive edge.

Choose Between Help And Help Yourself

I prefer to buy from small businesses because they’re usually more ready, willing, and able to help me. It seems that customers must choose between getting help and helping themselves. The staff at some larger organizations tend to be busy stocking shelves. They may point out where something is but they don’t always have the time or the expertise to help customers make a purchase.

Educate Yourself

Education can be an important part of the purchasing process. When many products deliver the same benefits, it is not always easy to make the right choice. In order to select the best product or service for your needs, you may require education. Small businesses tend to be better suited at offering assistance and are the best choice for one-time requests or requests for unusual or rare products and services.

Tailor Your Products

A small business has the ability to tailor its product or service selection to its specific customers. The most popular products your specific customer desires can be stocked in depth. This feature can be a disadvantage to large businesses as they carry a wide range of products offering little choice within a specific product group. Identify a niche market or a specific customer segment that big businesses may overlook or underserve. By catering to a specific need or providing a unique product or service, you can differentiate yourself and build a loyal customer base. Don’t forget to promote this advantage. Your business may represent one section of one aisle in a big box store. You don’t need to worry about the rest as you are not in those businesses. Deliver superior quality products or services that consistently exceed customer expectations. Emphasize attention to detail, craftsmanship, and the overall customer experience to stand out from larger competitors who may prioritize volume over quality.

Train Your Staff

Make sure you don’t make the same mistakes that some large businesses make. Don’t fall into the trap of being too busy to provide good service. Unfortunately, several large businesses seem to have staff to stock shelves but not to help customers and in some cases, not even to take your money. I can’t imagine any small business allowing a customer to stand in the middle of the floor with his or her money and no one to give it to.

This unfortunate experience happened to me in one of the well-established department stores. I couldn’t even pay for the one item that I came in to buy. But small businesses don’t always have good service. You must train your staff.

Your larger competitors probably have training programs. Your advantage is the ability to have an informal, on the spot training session for your staff. Augment any formal group training with small amounts of input when needed. If you notice something wrong or there’s a situation where you can improve your service, the changes can be made almost immediately, unlike your larger competitors, who may have to take months to develop a more formal, structured training program. Invest in training and development programs to enhance employee skills. Motivated and engaged employees can deliver better customer experiences, leading to a competitive advantage.

And don’t forget about employee satisfaction. Small businesses can create a positive work environment and foster strong employee relationships. 

Don’t Compete On Price Alone

Some small businesses charge a little more than a larger competitor but that’s OK. Some segments of your target group are willing to pay a little more in order to receive better service. It’s up to you to provide it and to make sure that customers know they are receiving added value. Some customers will always look for the lowest price. They will shop around, use your time and expertise, then go to your larger competitors to make the purchase.

It’s your job to recognize these prospective customers and to educate them about the advantages of doing business with you. Customers are not mind readers. These ideas apply to many business categories such as retail, manufacturing, and industrial or professional services. No matter what business you are in, act like a speedboat and outmaneuver the battleship. Go out and run circles around big businesses.

Embrace innovation and Agility

Large businesses often struggle with bureaucracy and slower decision-making processes. Take advantage of your flexibility and ability to adapt quickly to changes in the market. Stay agile and responsive to customer needs. Stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technological advancements. Be open to adopting new tools, processes, or business models that can streamline operations and improve efficiency. Being agile allows you to adapt quickly to changes and seize opportunities.

Leverage Your Local Presence

Emphasize your connection to the local community. Engage in local events, partnerships, and collaborations. Highlight the benefits of supporting a local business, such as personalized service, supporting local economy, and community involvement.

Build a Strong Online Presence

Utilize digital marketing strategies to increase your visibility and reach a broader audience. Invest in a user-friendly website, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and online advertising. Leverage e-commerce platforms to sell your products online and expand your market reach.

Focus on Quality and Differentiation

Emphasize the quality and uniqueness of your products or services. Provide superior value, better craftsmanship, customization, or additional services that set you apart from larger competitors. Develop a compelling brand story that resonates with your target audience. Never stop learning and improving your business. Seek feedback from customers, stay updated on industry trends, and invest in professional development. By constantly evolving and staying ahead, you can maintain a competitive edge over larger businesses.

Collaborate with Others

Form partnerships or collaborations with complementary businesses. Pooling resources and expertise can help you compete with larger competitors. Joint marketing campaigns, cross-promotion, or bundled offerings can attract more customers and create win-win situations. Collaborate with other small businesses, industry influencers, or complementary service providers to leverage collective strengths and reach a wider audience. Strategic partnerships can help amplify your message and expand your customer base.

Efficient Cost Management 

Analyze your business operations regularly to identify areas where you can reduce costs without compromising quality. Streamline processes, negotiate better deals with suppliers, and explore cost-effective alternatives. Efficient cost management can help you maintain competitive pricing.

Remember, while it can be challenging to compete with big businesses, small businesses also possess unique strengths and advantages. By leveraging these strengths and implementing effective strategies, small businesses can carve out a successful niche in the market.


Competing with large businesses may seem challenging for small businesses, but it is not impossible. By leveraging their unique strengths and implementing effective strategies, small businesses can successfully beat their larger competitors. Flexibility and adaptability are key advantages, allowing small businesses to maneuver quickly and respond to market changes faster. Offering genuine personal attention and exceptional customer service builds strong relationships and sets small businesses apart. Tailoring products or services to specific customer needs and focusing on quality and differentiation are crucial. Collaboration with others and building a strong online presence amplify visibility and reach. Efficient cost management ensures competitive pricing. By embracing innovation, agility, and their local presence, small businesses can thrive in the market and outmaneuver larger competitors.

Are you asking yourself how long does it take to sell a business? Or should I sell my business? What are the steps to selling a business and how much do I sell my business for? Do I need a business value consulting professional to calculate value of a company?  If you’re looking for tips for selling a business from someone who specializes in family business coaching and consulting, you’ve come to the right blog.

As a trusted business advisor and sale advisor I appreciate the opportunity to share my years of experience working with Owners just like you. In fact you may want to consider our online program Sell Your Business 4 More. Click on the Eric Gilboord Coach cap above.

Eric Gilboord
A Toronto-based seller of businesses. Loves talking to first time business Sellers about transitioning themselves and their company.

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