How to act big when you're still small

Managing your business

Your small business has some competitive advantages over big businesses. This includes your ability to quickly adapt and respond to niche market openings, innovate with novel solutions, and operate with faster decision making and a lean, flexible cost structure. But in some industries, customers perceive larger businesses with greater market share as being a less risky choice. How can your small business compete successfully with larger businesses?

“Automation and outsourced services have become increasingly available to small businesses,” says Scott Stearsman, head of small business for Truist. “Partnering with the right service provider can extend a small business and help it gain a competitive edge over larger rivals.”

Engage in expansive marketing.

  • Use marketing to expand your presence. The smaller the market niche, the better the opportunity for small businesses to compete against big companies. Take advantage of events, trade shows, and other places your target customers are likely to be. If you decide on only one or two marketing channels (like LinkedIn for social media or e-newsletters), focus your marketing strategy on a consistent, professional presence in that channel.
  • Secure your name. Gain a competitive edge over larger rivals by stepping up your social media presence and securing your company name across the internet using services like KnowEm and Namechk.
  • Invest in high-quality marketing materials. First impressions, whether in person or virtual, are critical for new prospects and customers. Make sure your social media pages, website, business cards, and brochures are professional, in presentation and in content. Templates and online services can offer practical options at a reasonable price, giving you a competitive advantage over larger businesses. Invest in enduring marketing materials consistent with your marketing strategy, such as custom photography, a logo, or introductory video.
  • Use names/language to convey a larger company. While larger companies may have more employees, you likely work with a network of partners and contractors to deliver quality products to your customers. Indicate your company’s true size with your name, like <<your name>> and Associates or <<your name>> Group or <<your name>> Company. Use the pronoun “we” instead of “I” when speaking about the business. Have first and last names in company email addresses, and consider creating emails for functions that are similar to those used by larger competitors, such as or If you work with regular freelancers or partners, ask to post their bios on your site.
  • Associate your business with known names. List industry associations, certifications, and other credibility markers on your website, social media, and other marketing materials that are a part of your overall marketing strategy. With their permission, list the company names and logos of well-known clients or suppliers you work with. Better yet, collect testimonials and reviews from loyal customers.
  • Pursue and promote media placements. Besides publishing press releases (for example, using PRWeb), look for reporters seeking experience or expertise in writing a story with services like HARO. Blog Talk Radio can help you get started by securing a radio interview, which you can then share on social media networks. Local and industry publications often look for contributors and would welcome an interview or full article that you provide. If you’re short on time, invest in an outsourced public relations professional—often available as a freelancer—to generate placements in media, podcasts, and blogs that are consistent with your marketing strategy.

Take advantage of shared services and space.

  • Invest in a business telephone service. Consider getting an 800, 888, or 877 exchange business number. You can even request a custom phone number that aligns with your business. Supplement this number with a virtual phone system or answering service.
  • Consider your physical addresses. Get a corporate mailing address through an office-sharing program or through a mailbox service. Meeting rooms, which can be reserved, allow you to project a prestigious image in person and an address on your site, helping you compete against larger companies. Instead of listing one mailing address on your site, consider establishing a physical address in each of your target markets and don’t forget to register each with Google to gain the benefits of local search engine marketing (SEO).

Show professionalism in all your financial interactions.

  • Automate and accept multiple forms of payment. Accepting all types of credit and debit cards, Zelle®, PayPal, Apple Pay®, and more provides the level of flexibility expected from larger companies and gets you paid faster by streamlining payment processing.
  • Clean up accounting and invoicing. Invoices are another opportunity to appear professional and support your brand. Make sure your invoices are linked to your accounting system and branded in a color, font, and logo that’s consistent with your company’s marketing strategy.

You have a ton of available resources to supplement your business operations and compete with larger rivals. The table below lists various resources by their functional area:

Business Operation Resources
Functional Area Resources
  • Social media freelancer for regular posts
  • Graphic designer for your logo and all associated marketing materials (newsletter template, PowerPoint template, business cards, website, social media banners)
  • Website service using a website template or custom design
  • Writers for thought leadership, website content, and newsletters
  • Newsletter services to publish regular newsletters branded to your company
  • Public relations freelancer for media placements
  • Virtual assistant
  • Phone service to take messages or route calls
  • Apps to allow customers to schedule services
  • Temporary office spaces and conference rooms
  • Online bookkeeping services
  • Apps for taxes, payroll, and invoicing
  • Outsourced bookkeepers and other accounting professionals

Look for smart ways to extend your company and the value it brings.

Call 877-279-3083 to speak with a Small Business consultant or schedule a virtual or in-person appointment to discuss how you can better compete with big companies.

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment advice. You’re encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We don’t make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information. We don’t endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here. And we take no liability for your use of this information.