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Intimidated by the competition? How your startup can take on the big guys

by Adam Witty, founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks and author of “Authority Marketing: How to Use 7 Pillars of Thought Management to Make Competition Irrelevant”

When startups evaluate the competition, they may not like what they see.

Often the main players in their industry are already far ahead of them, attracting the customers or customers they desire, conquering the market for the best employees and their size making them stand out for anyone who dares to take them on.

But startups don’t necessarily have to blink at the big boys. Certainly, large companies have many advantages over startups, from the assets available to the years of brand awareness they have worked to achieve. However, you can work on creating some advantages of your own – or at least leveling the playing field – if you do things right.

Some ways for aspiring entrepreneurs to do this are:

Know that adaptability is a key element – and possibly an asset.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn much attention to the importance of adaptability, but it has always been critical for companies to respond to unexpected changes in the market that threatened their product or business model.

Being adaptable doesn’t just mean adding a new product to your offering. It requires constant attention to what is going on in the world, analyzing your competitors, and most importantly, not feeling too comfortable at the top of the pyramid.

In some cases, a startup can even have an advantage here. Established companies sometimes get stuck in their own way, and when disruptions to business or customer habits arise, they are slow to make the necessary changes. A good example of this was Blockbuster, the video rental company that failed to recognize the threat posed by annoying newcomers like Netflix.

Turn customers and customers into enthusiastic fans.

The most profitable companies in the world have the most fanatical customers and customers. Think of Apple, which does a lot of things very, very well. One of them looks after the customer first. And Apple excels at communicating its mission to its audience. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, once said: “Customer service shouldn’t be just a department. It should be the entire company. ‘To create loyalty, you need to show your customers that you are not only grateful for their business, but that you value their relationship.

Establish yourself as an authority in your field.

If you position yourself as a point of contact in your area, you can gain an unfair advantage in the market by immediately positioning yourself over others in the same area. One way to do this is to write a book because then not only are you an authority on your subject, but you have “written the book about it”. But you can also begin to establish your authority through media interviews and lectures.

I like to tell my employees: “When it comes to decision-making, when we go with opinions, we go with mine.” In reality, I don’t even want to make decisions based on my opinion. I prefer facts and data.

For a startup or company to be successful, you should let employees know that you are open to their ideas. However, they also expect these ideas to be backed up with facts and data that show why this is a good idea. This type of decision making is the best way for your business to grow, thrive, and dominate the competition.

Adam Witty is the founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks, the authority marketing specialist. Working with entrepreneurs and professionals to strengthen their brands and grow their business through publishing, he has made the company one of the largest business book publishers in America. Adam is also a sought-after speaker, teacher, and consultant in marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and writers.


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