The Marketing Doctor

BIG v small

small Business versus BIG Business

By John Counsel

It never ceases to amaze (dismay!) me how often, after seminars and workshops, especially marketing training events, so many small business people approach me with questions about how they can apply what BIG business does in their own small businesses.

My usual reply is a bewildered “why on earth would you WANT to?”

What is there about BIG business marketing that any small business would want to have, except for its abundant resources — especially people and money?

The inescapable truth is this:

When small business knows what to do, BIG business literally cannot compete with it.

The problem for small business is that, when it comes to actually running a business, especially a marketing program, it rarely knows what to do. Instead, it typically chooses one of these three dangerous options:

  1. It does what everyone else does — the “Safety in Numbers” approach to small business management. Management by Imitation.
  2. It guesses — the “Reverse Russian Roulette” approach to small business management. Management by Guesswork.
  3. It shoves its head in the sand, hoping it will all just go away — the “Ostrich” approach to small business management. Management by Wishful Thinking.

Why are these “options” so dangerous?

1. Safety in Numbers (Management by Imitation)

For a start, 90% of all small businesses fail. That’s the cold, harsh reality. (75% fail in half that time. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics.)
So it makes no sense at all to do what everyone else does! In fact, you’d probably stand a better chance of surviving if you do the exact opposite of what everyone else does.
The problem with that, of course, is that so few know what the exact opposite is, either! Instead, they choose not the opposite but the counterfeit!

2. Reverse Russian Roulette (Management by Guesswork)

Managing by guesswork is like playing Reverse Russian Roulette. Instead of putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger with only one chamber of the gun loaded, you do the same — but with only one chamber of the gun empty!
You may get lucky a few times but, inevitably, your luck will run out. The outcome of this approach to small business management is predictable — but only desirable when your competitors adopt it.

3. Ostrich Syndrome (Management by Wishful Thinking)

Hiding from a problem like this won’t make it go away — you’ll just be bitten on what’s left pointing upward!
(Apologies to the ostrich, too… I’m assured by former clients in the ostrich breeding industry that ostriches don’t hide their heads in the sand at all. We just think they do because of false reporting. Perhaps this is really just Option 1 after all!)


David and GoliathDavid versus Goliath

Are you familiar with the story of David and Goliath? (If not, click here for a brief outline of the legendary battle in which a youthful hero, equipped only with a slingshot and five smooth, polished stones — and a precise, workable plan — defeated an arrogant, bullying, armor-clad giant, equipped with spear, sword and shield, who had terrorised an entire army and nation to a standstill.)

When it knows what to do, and when it has a plan, a slingshot and the necessary five well-rounded stones, small business is just like David. It can outsmart, outmanoeuvre and, whenever necessary, defeat the Goliaths of BIG business.

In the end, the only purpose served by Goliath’s supposedly unbeatable sword was when David used it to chop off the fallen giant’s head!

What was David’s secret?

What was it that enabled him to outwit the lumbering behemoth and, with a single, perfectly-targeted blow from his slingshot, fell the bully and free his endangered nation?

Ten simple things:

 A clear vision of what he wanted to achieve — backed by a precise, workable plan of action.

• Absolute faith in the truth and justice of his cause and his course of action.

 His trusty slingshot and well-honed skill to use it.

 Five smooth, polished stones.

But how do these things relate to small business?

Easily! Take a look…

1. A clear vision

This is your business vision — the starting point and end point of your precise, workable plan of action… your Business Plan! But NOT some dust-gathering 100-page door-stop that takes a year to do and then can’t be made to work. That’s nothing but a scandalous, disheartening waste of resources that’s the wrong thing to do, done for the wrong reasons


Because most are based on BIG business models which simply can’t work in most small businesses. They’re the wrong things, done for the right reasons. They comply with the Law of FAILURE!

Take a look at our Live Seminars and Workshops for a dynamic new approach to simple, quick, useful Business Plans.

2. Absolute faith in your cause

This is your business mission — the focus of your motivation, dedication, determination and discipline. Your total commitment to bringing your business vision to reality.

To view The Profit Clinic’s own Mission and Vision (video), click here.

3. A course of action

This is the implementation of your Business Plan through targeted, measurable, relevant and timely activities.

4 and 5. Slingshot and skill

The slingshot represents leverage — and your ability to make optimum use of the leverage available to you in small business (it’s H-U-G-E!)

6 through 10. Five well-rounded stones

These are the five highly-polished resources available to you in your small business.

To discover what they are, click here.

That’s not the end of the story, however. There are several more questions you should be asking yourself right now

1. Are YOU trying to “learn” from Goliath?

Most small business people do – or, at least, they try to — because they know no better. The real question is, “WHAT are you actually learning?

The overwhelming odds are that you’re learning nothing more than how to do battle according to Goliath’s rules, on Goliath’s battlefield, using his kind of armour and weapons.

You can’t win under those conditions!

2. WHY are you asking GOLIATH for advice and help?

Look at your own experience in dealing with BIG business — including BIG government. (BIG government is very BIG business and has much the same attitudes.) For example, look at the amount of money invested in Technical And Further Education and the related small business development “industry” in Australia (and elsewhere)… too often run by empire-building bureaucrats and “experts” who are little more than refugees from BIG business who couldn’t survive there!

Harsh words, I know. And provocative. But if the shoe fits…. (See the Chapter on Government “Help” for more information on this vexed question.)

How often have you felt that you were getting outstanding service, quality or value from BIG business? (Especially compared to what you’d get if YOU were a BIG business!)

How much trust do you feel YOU can place in any BIG businesses you deal with… like banks, telecommunications companies and government agencies?

Is it because you don’t know where else to go?

And because Goliath is offering to help and advise small business?

Which brings us to the next telling question:

3. WHY is Goliath offering YOU advice and help?

This is the real issue, when you think about it carefully.

What advice would Goliath have given David? Do you honestly believe he’d have shown him how to compete effectively?

Maybe. But only enough to prolong his sport before delivering the coup de grace. In other words, they’ll milk you dry, then discard you. For BIG business, small business is mostly a means to an end — because small business, in its dealings with BIG business, usually deals with employeesnot fellow entrepreneurs. And, to an ambitious employee, you’re just another stepping stone on their path to more power.

The problem for any stepping stone, of course, is that it tends to get stepped on!

Goliath was an employee, too, (of the Philistine government, what’s more… a public servant!) while David was a small, independent operator who ran lean, clean and highly-manoeuvrable, and didn’t play by the BIG guys’ rules!

No wonder the Philistines cried “no fair!” — and David’s own king and his generals soon turned on him, because they saw him as a threat to their own power and position. (Interesting parallels here, don’t you think?)

But the one crucial fact we tend to overlook in this analogy is the REAL source of danger to young David… and to you!

The real danger to David was NEVER Goliath!

The most immediate — and long-term — danger to David was from his own king and advisors!

The king insisted that David wear his personal armor and weapons — and the generals all agreed. But, when David put them on, he couldn’t move. He couldn’t even lift the king’s shield and sword comfortably.

He’d have been a sitting duck!

You’re no different.

Any provider of “small business” training, advice and support that does nothing more than weigh you down with BIG business methods and ideas is like David’s own king and generals… well-meaning, but with friends like that, who needs enemies?

Tread warily out there, folks!

Right things only, for right reasons only.

Get the right perspective, always.

©1993 John Counsel. All rights reserved.