Competing with the big boys looks at how smaller companies can get ahead when faced with giant competition.

Ugur Adis had been successfully running his Essentialz Mace shop in Cambridge for two years and turning over in excess of £24,000 a week when Tesco decided to open a store 50 yards away. With profits initially hit by 50 per cent, Adis has spend the last two years working hard to turn the store’s fate around, proving that smaller businesses can compete with the bigger players.

‘I am now turning over an average of £18,000 a week, and I’m on track to returning to the level I was trading at originally,’ says Adis. One area that he believes helps smaller players get ahead in a David and Goliath battle is the personal touches. He remarks, ‘The competitor store tends to copy and repeat the same strategy I use but without the same level of personal service as you get from a local retailer, like the welcoming hello and conversation or free home delivery on bulky items.’

It is not only in retail that the personal touches can get a smaller business ahead. Square Peg is a Surrey-headquartered consultancy firm that must constantly compete with the bigger, better known names. Director Phoebe Dunn says, ‘We are able to compete because we are more nimble, flexible and the firm pays great attention to nurturing and maintaining client relationships.’ Last year Square Peg won the Institute of Consulting’s consultancy of the year award, cementing its success.

Adis totally revamped his store and started to really foster relationships with customers. He decided to cater to the students by offering a 10 per cent student discount and also kept the regular office workers happy by price matching Tesco on key lines such as bread, milk and teabags. He carefully noticed the international students were spending more and began to stock a range of foreign newspapers and groceries to appeal to the demographic.

It is innovation like this that gets smaller companies ahead, believes CEO of CashFlows, Nick Ogden. The Cambridge-based company provides businesses with electronic payment solutions and must compete daily with the big names of the retail/high street banking industry. Ogden says, ‘Innovative solutions are the key to staying ahead of larger competitors and we constantly innovate within our product set to offer genuine value to the businesses we serve.’

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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