Feel like you’re always chasing the big guys? You’re not alone. Start-ups and small business owners are constantly in competition with big box stores, trying to attract customers and recruit top talent to join their teams.
If this sounds like your business, don’t worry—we root for the underdogs. Here’s how you can take on enterprise businesses while maintaining your entrepreneurial spirit:
1. Embrace it.
Feeling like you have something to prove can be a good thing. It drives you to chase greatness, be creative, and gives you a sense of urgency.1
Without a strong motivator, you may miss opportunities to innovate, streamline your processes, or anticipate changing customer needs. And, as a small business, you can be more agile—and that’s your competitive edge. When you have a new idea, you can implement it faster and with greater ease than larger corporations. That’s because small businesses benefit from quick decision-making without the red tape and formal approval processes that slow down larger organizations.
2. Market it.
As we said, we love an underdog—and we’re not alone. Consumers are more likely to identify with brands perceived as disadvantaged because it’s relatable and inspiring.2 Here’s a deliciously simple example: when given a choice of chocolate bars, participants in a study for the Journal of Consumer Research chose the underdog brand 71% of the time.3
Being the small shop on the block also makes it easier for you to get to know your customers and market to them with personalization that’s authentic. For example, if one of your best customers has purchased a product outside of their usual basket, following up with a note asking them how they’re enjoying it can go a long way to further engendering them to your business because they feel recognized and appreciated.
It’s like this: when people get you (your business), they like you. When they like you, they want to be a part of your brand by shopping at your business.
Seems like humble beginnings are a bit of a thing.
“Consumers relate to companies that are humble, especially those that started off small and grew with time… they connect much more and we gain their loyalty.”4
– Oren Berdichevsky, co-CEO of ad-tech platform Sekindo
3. Outgrow it.
The success of your business means that you’ll inevitably outgrow your underdog status, and that’s great. It means you’re making it.
When you’re an established leader in your space, you can’t continue to pretend to be the underdog—it doesn’t sit well with consumers. You can, however, pay homage to your roots by reminding customers and employees what got you there and use that mentality to continue to drive your business forward.5
Be the success story.
Having your own business is all about taking (smart) risks and aiming for growth. Along the way, be sure to take your underdog status in stride, and don’t be afraid to evolve to become the big dog on the block.
1, 2, 4, 5 (Saltzman, B.) (Date unknown). The Right (And Wrong) Way To Harness Your Company’s Underdog Status. [Online article]. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3064545/the-right-and-wrong-way-to-harness-your-companys-underdog-status
3 (University of Chicago) (July 20, 2010). Consumers love underdogs. [Online article]. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2010-07-consumers-underdogs.html