Punching Above Your Weight: How a Small Business Can Compete

When you launch a small business, or a start up, it feels like you have an impossible path ahead of you. You’re the underdog of underdogs, needing to carve out your place in the market from established brands who have a firm grip on consumers. It’s why so much of the rhetoric of start ups uses ‘disruption’. To find success, you need to disrupt a status quo to create space for yourself.

Those established business have so much on their side: consumers are familiar with their brands; they have money in the bank to deal with fallow periods and failed but vital experiments; they’re big enough to support departments full of specialists who can conduct research and development and cover vital administrative tasks while the high level decision makers focus on the direction of the business, while you can’t even justify a single full time HR person.

Today we’re looking at a few ways your underdog start up can punch above its weight and compete with the big brands to carve out their own share of the market.


It’s difficult for a small business to justify hiring full time specialists and researchers for things like Market Research or product development. You need to be focussed on your main offering, getting it ready for the market and then in front of as many potential clients and customers as possible to start generating a healthy stream of income.

That doesn’t diminish the importance of these data streams however, and not being a big brand doesn’t mean doing without that data, it means finding a way to get it when you need it, in a sustainable way for your business. Working with consultants gives you bursts of data and specialism when you need it. When you’re looking to expand, you can assess your place in the market with some brand tracking from Attest. When you’re setting up to develop a new project, you can work with consultants to ensure you’ve got the structures in place to manage that development effectively.


Dealing with the mundane back office tasks like HR and accountancy can be difficult to find time for when you’re a small operation, but they don’t stop being vital to your business. It’s rare that a small business can hire a full time member of staff to deal with concerns like these and they’re often handled by a harried CEO or exec. This process can be streamlined: getting an interim manager in for a few weeks or months is a great decision. They can look at exactly what you need and help set up systems that will make administrating to these mundane but vital tasks easy until you can hire full time.

Learn more about interim talent here.

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