Should Big Competitors Scare Me?

"We just read that MegaCorp is getting into our industry. Should we be freaked out that we're going to get squashed like a bug? How do we process this?”

January 20th, 2020   |    By: Wil Schroter

Think of big companies like the Death Star.

On the outset, it's a planet killer. But its weakness, (other than a really questionably-architected ventilation system), is that it moves at a glacial pace.

I spent 10 years running a digital agency working with these Fortune 500 giants like BMW, Best Buy and Eli Lilly.

What we don't see on the outside is how impossible it is for these companies to move internally and how we can use that lack of mobility to our advantage versus worrying about our home planet of Alderaan getting blown up.

Big Companies Face Inward, Not Outward

The first thing we need to know about big companies is that their culture is almost always faced entirely inward.

That means their staff, unlike ours, spends more time coordinating (read: fighting) with other departments then actually focusing on shipping product and responding to customers.

While MegaCorp is busy scheduling meetings about upcoming meetings, we're heads down shipping products. They’re going to spend 10x more time coordinating resources than actually getting the work done from those resources.

That's our edge.

Big Companies Respond Very Slowly

If a new opportunity arose that we wanted to take advantage of, we can huddle in a room and shift the entire boat "hard left" immediately.

It doesn't work that way in big companies — at all. If you've ever watched a big company CEO try to ram something through their own organization, even they can't get things done quickly in most cases.

That doesn't mean they won't respond, it just means we can respond faster. If we use that judo move to constantly ship new and better features faster, to market more aggressively, and to constantly condition the market that we're ahead, it's a huge win.

But When the Cannon Does Fire...

All of this agility is wonderful, and we should use it to our advantage, recognizing that at some point we may be looking down the barrel of a giant cannon.

Our goal is to move as fast as we can, and stay 3 steps ahead of MegaCorp so that the cannon never gets sighted on us.

This isn't about being scared — it's about being fast.

In Case You Missed It

Vetting Your Competition Starts Inside Your Company. How can you contrast your organization with another if you have no idea what value you bring to the table or where you stand? It’s time for an internal audit.

How to Write a Competitive Analysis for Your Business Plan. A solid competitive analysis is your way of showing that you know exactly where you stand among your fiercest competitors — and that you have a way to out-maneuver them.

How to Beat Your Lower-Priced Competitors. Don't let predatory competitor pricing strategy destroy your business. Check out this advice from members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.

About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual.  He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement).  After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do.  He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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