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The Fast and the Dead: Your Advantage as a Small Business

Posted by Mike McKinnon on
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A guest post by Dennis Yu, CEO of BlitzLocal-- providing local online advertising for professional service firms.

Small_Guy_And_Big_Guy_If you're a small business owner like me, you check up on the competition now and then. Look at the big guys. How many people do they have, how much do they spend on advertising, how much muscle can they flex compared to tiny little you?

Sometimes it's daunting to be the small guy-- maybe you have a single office and are competing against a national chain. They may have 20 people in their Internet marketing group and you are perhaps doing it part-time, among the 15 other things you're trying to do. How can you compete?

Let me tell you a story.... The angel investor in our tiny company is Markus Frind. If you haven't heard of Markus, a few years ago, he taught himself how to program by building a dating site. At the time, folks like Match.com and eHarmony were established players with millions of users. This ONE GUY built a website that is now larger than both of these players, generating over 2 billion pageviews a month, earns more than any other website on the planet on Google advertising, and is the #70 most popular site on the planet.

He did this all by himself. One guy. At Yahoo! Personals, I was proud to be part of a team of 80 folks. Match.com had well over 300 employees. The other publicly traded firms also have hundreds of employees. How did one guy beat industry giants with massive staff and marketing budgets to become the #1 most popular dating site on earth (verified by HitWise)?


  • The race is not about big and small: It's about fast versus slow. You as a small business are more nimble than the mega corporations. Do you remember your days suffering in the bowels of a giant company, tied up in bureaucracy, perhaps hating your job? Now you're the nimble guy who can make decisions and just go, as opposed to having multiple committees and PowerPoints to discuss who should be at the meeting to make a decision.

  • Tutors 3-legged raceMany people slow things down: Ever done a 3-legged sack race at a carnival? If two legs are good, three legs are better, right? If you're the one person doing the Internet marketing for your company, you don't have to worry about a ton of coordination. With bureaucracy, things get mis-communicated and lost. Back to the dating example, Markus was the Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and so forth. He could make decisions immediately with no paperwork.

  • You have a better view: When you serve multiple roles, you see things that folks who are splintered into many functions wouldn't realize. In a big company, Marketing can't get stuff done because IT has set up things for their benefit, not that of Marketing. If that technical person understood marketing, maybe they would have set things up another way.

  • The buck stops with you: It's your money-- and, therefore, you care more than a corporate drone ever would. You're not a wage slave who is disgruntled or trying to skate by unnoticed. You are motivated to succeed.


The fact that you're reading this says that you are actively looking for ways to improve your business.

 

So take heart in knowing that small is an advantage. The race is won by the fastest, not the biggest. You can seize on new marketing techniques and optimize several times before the behemoths are even aware such techniques exist. Be the David killing the Goliath-- or for you history buffs, Sir Francis Drake versus the Spanish Armada: little ships that outmaneuvering the big battle ships.


Name: Keith Wilcox
Time: Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Spanish Armada was defeated by bad weather bad politics an incompetent new command and shipworms. They were not defeated by the opposition.

Name: Keith Wilcox
Time: Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh, and I'm totally stupid for not saying what I meant to say in the first place. I have always thought it's best to be little and quick rather than huge and cumbersome. I think a great example of this is Bruce Lee who was twice as strong as most martial artists and only weighed 125 lbs. Not only was he faster because of his size, he was literally stronger and inflicted more damage, not just by weight. Business is much the same I think. Being light and agile is definitely a bonus, but small companies can sometimes be more powerful too. It's not the number of employees that make a company effective. Anyway -- good article. That's what Imeant to say.

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