How to Compete With the Big Guys and Win

It's going to take a gutsy mix of focus, quality and authenticity to be David to their Goliath.

learn more about Amy Osmond Cook

By Amy Osmond Cook

SergeyNivens | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Are you tired of building a killer business only to be undercut by Amazon? Are you sick of Wal-Mart squeezing you out of the marketplace because your wholesale price is too high? Is your product better than the leading competitor but relatively invisible?

While it may seem impossible to compete with the big guys, there are many success stories of startups beating out the behemoths. Their secret? As James Schrager said in a recent Wall Street Journal article, "you'll need to do something better, cheaper, faster, or amazingly different in a way that won't put you directly in the cross hairs of a big, powerful company."

If you can specialize in a specific market, prioritize quality and refuse to compromise your authenticity, you can take on the giants. Your company doesn't need to be big to succeed -- you just need to think big to make it happen.

Specialize in a specific market.

When you specialize in a specific market, you become a true expert who understands what that customer wants. Here's one way you can beat the big guys at their own game. Customers buy from you because they trust you know them and because you are going to solve a problem for them.

Take Zameer Kassam, for example. By knowing his customer, this high-end custom jeweler has created a disruptive strategy in a struggling industry that has experienced several years of decline.

Related: 5 Essentials for Connecting With Your Ideal Target Market on Social Media

Kassam is successful precisely because he is able to serve a specific market in ways his competitors do not. He embeds details of his customers' personal stories -- how they met, significant dates, events and shared interests -- into customized, one-of-a-kind rings. As traditional high-end jewelers like Tiffany & Company have suffered in an uncertain economy, Kassam's business has experienced double-digit growth. For Kassam, the future is sparkling bright. He is now living his passion and will never turn back.

"Once you know who it is you're going after," says Entrepreneur contributor Michael Kaleikini. "Then you can begin to design a plan around how you will market to them so they can see you, begin to learn who you are, and get to liking you, so they come and buy from you." A small business is usually more nimble and is able to pivot to meet the needs of a changing, specialized market in ways a large corporation can't.

Make quality your first priority.

When quality comes first, your business grows. It's as simple as that. Marygrace Sexton is a good example. Her company, Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Company, began as a mom's dream and turned into a $45-million-dollar success story. How? By providing quality.

Related: 7 Ways Quality Boosts Business That Quantity Can't Match

From the first day, the juice has always been squeezed daily to guarantee freshness. Her juices contain four or fewer ingredients, while being free of concentrates, added sugar, sodium, preservatives or artificial flavors. Natalie's has been recognized 10 times for producing America's best tasting fresh Florida juices, and its products can be found in over 30 states and 24 countries.

Be authentic.

People like you when you're "real" and get turned off when you're "fake." Customers hold brands to the same standard. If you want to compete in business, you need to know who you are.

In 1979, when Ricky Eisen set out to build a catering and restaurant business, her priority was to create an authentic, quality product and service. Today, Between The Bread (BTB) has set itself apart within the quick service restaurant category by going to extraordinary lengths to provide customers with fresh, authentic fare.

For example, after finding out that most "grab and go" restaurant chains use horseradish in their wasabi, Ricky's son and partner, Jon, went on a mission that had him knocking on the back door of a supplier in Chinatown to get genuine wasabi for BTB's customers.

With integrity as its business value, BTB has transformed Eisen's personal passion into a rotating menu of healthy protein, vegetable and grain dishes that have been vetted by some of the biggest names in the food industry.

Related: The Importance Of Honesty And Integrity In Business

In a world where the biggest and the loudest businesses are too often viewed as the best, entrepreneurs like Kassam, Sexton, and Eisen are changing that perspective. Their examples demonstrate the impact you can create when you are able to specialize in a specific market, are willing to put quality first, and are dedicated to delivering an authentic product or service. Follow the example of these business leaders, and watch your business take on those industry giants -- and win.

Amy Osmond Cook

VP, Marketing & Creative Services, Simplus; Founder, Osmond Marketing

Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., is the VP of marketing at Simplus, director of Simplus Creative Services, and founder of Osmond Marketing. She enjoys reading business books, playing the violin and trying new restaurants with her husband and five children. Follow her at @amyocook.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This 61-Year-Old Grandma Who Made $35,000 in the Medical Field Now Earns 7 Figures in Retirement
A 'Quiet Promotion' Will Cost You a Lot — Use This Expert's 4-Step Strategy to Avoid It
3 Red Flags on Your LinkedIn Profile That Scare Clients Away
'Everyone Is Freaking Out.' What's Going On With Silicon Valley Bank? Federal Government Takes Control.

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Business News

Amtrak Introduces 'Night Owl' Prices With Some Routes As Low As $5

The new discounts apply to some rides between Washington D.C. and New York City.

Business Solutions

This Highly Rated App Could Help Business Owners Stay Organized

Get your business in order with this personal organizer app on sale for $60.