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Hungry for Success: How Your Startup Can Successfully Compete With Big Businesses

Jen Saunders
Jen Saunders

These seven tips can help you differentiate your startup from the big guys.

In today's business landscape, the success of a startup in the face of monumental competition from all sides either confirms well execution of a unique business idea or excellent planning and implementation of smart marketing strategies. What if all of these elements combined together, weighed in and worked out perfectly – a recipe for sure success, isn't it? Well, such an approach is indeed putting the best foot forward, but it is always not easier said than done, especially when a startup has to compete with the industry giants.

The multibillion-dollar companies – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Snapchat, Udacity, etc. – were once startups themselves but are market leaders currently. A recent study suggests that nine out of 10 companies fail. So, understandably, these successful companies (and many others) have plugged the gaps, converted challenges into opportunities, and shown extreme passion and commitment.

If you have just launched your startup or are planning to launch one, you have to expect the unexpected at any time. Competition, for one, is inevitable, and you have to swim with the big sharks, albeit in a different manner. Being an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to ignore anything.

So, the key question is: How are you going to give the big businesses in your industry a tough time?

The following important tips will help you compete with big companies.

1. Differentiate your product or service.

Product differentiation is crucial to start with. There is no need to compete front and center; just focus on an area in which you do the best and deliver comprehensively. In this regard, you have to develop a strategy and positioning, which will help you differentiate your product or service so you offer something interesting.

As a matter of fact, startups have a unique opportunity to do things that no one else has done before – moving fast, changing processes, breaking norms and disrupting without fear. Moreover, it would be in your favor to be a company that does one thing exceptionally well rather than incorporating multiple divisions like large organizations.

2. Make quick decisions and act fast.

Speed is very important for startups. You can't afford to procrastinate. No matter how well funded you are, your money will eventually run out. You need to quickly act on the decisions you make in order to execute your plans efficiently.

Big companies usually take time to act since there is a top-to-bottom hierarchical structure through which ideas trickle down before they're implemented. So they can afford to make slow decisions. Startups, on the other hand, have no time for this – just put your plan into action the moment you come up with one.

Startups, in a true sense, are all about trying, failing and trying again. Many people have the notion that a startup's journey is from launch to success, or there is no journey at all. However, this is not quite true. Apple was on the verge of going bankrupt. It was due to the perseverance and relentless implementation of new ideas by Steve Jobs that Apple Inc. rose like a phoenix.  

3. Use necessary tools and apps at your disposal.

In today's scenario, certain tools and apps have proven to be indispensable for startups. You can also use sophisticated tools that are powered by intelligent algorithms. Entrepreneurs are supposed to run on a lean budget and a small team, so relying on software and applications will help you ease your burden and steer your business towards the right direction. 

4. Reach out to clients and customers.

Reaching out to customers and clients is essential for startups today. For that, you need to make smart use of social media and content marketing, which will put you in front of a large number of customers, with relatively little monetary investment.

There are many prominent social media platforms that offer you the opportunity to reach a wider audience. For example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube can be extremely helpful in terms of enhancing your chances of succeeding. Participating in trade and consumer fairs can help you become more visible.

If you have started an e-commerce business, for instance, you need to have an engaging and user-friendly website to begin with. You have to create the better user experience, great design and easy navigation so that more and more visitors will come to your site.

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5. Leverage their marketing mechanics to your advantage.

You have to be smart in this grand game of survival. Big companies have probably spent considerable time creating their marketing machine by using media channels, PR, newspapers, magazines, or websites to popularize their concepts. It's time to use this path set by big brands to your advantage. Contact all of those outlets who have written about the industry giants – your competitors have already elicited help from them in the past. Get help from influencers in order to further grow your business.

Apart from that, big brands must have reviews of their products/services on various review sites; contact those outlets and explain why you are different. You can also leverage their reputation by using Adwords to advertise on the keyword of their name.  

6. Raise more capital and resources.

Money is the lifeblood of any business, and you can't simply compete with bigger brands if you fail to raise more capital and resources. Even if you have the potential to make it big, you still need to quickly scale your operations with additional funding so you can stay afloat.

There are many ways to do that. For example, seeking help from venture funds or angel investors by offering them a portion of ownership in your company in exchange for funding might help you in this regard. Another way to raise capital is crowdfunding in which you have to outline your business goals and plans for making a profit. 

7. Choose a dedicated team.

A good team plays a crucial role in the journey of any startup; a successful business is characterized by a dedicated and versatile team. The success of a new venture invariably depends on the ability of the founder to attract a great team.

As an entrepreneur, you must have a well-defined vision and goal, but it is your team that executes your best-laid plans and determines the fate of those plans. The knowledge, skills, competence and attitude of your employees make a big difference in terms of achieving milestones.

Moreover, a versatile team is able to multitask, wear multiple hats as situation demands. It should also know how to recover from blows.


You have ideas, plans and resources. Yet you have to devise strategies and beat the challenges to surge ahead in this mad race of entrepreneurship. The above-mentioned tips will surely help you follow the right path.

However, the success of your startup doesn't depend on beating your bigger competitors per se; rather, it's about carving a niche for yourself and building a strong audience base.

The truth is there is no need to be intimidated if you are confident that your idea is unique and can stand on its own.

Image Credit: baranq/Shutterstock
Jen Saunders
Jen Saunders Member
Jen Saunders is the Director of Marketing for a digital marketing agency in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami. With more than 15 years of industry experience Jen has engaged in various SEO experiments publishing and presenting her findings through journals and public speaking events. Her current passion revolves around RankBrain, mobile search language enriched content, and consumer behaviour. When she isn’t deep in the throws of machine learning, Jen enjoys scuba diving, sampling craft beer, and pursuing the art of meditation.