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How Small Companies Can Compete
Against Their Large Competitors

Foreword........................................................................................................................ 1
Chapter 1: Capitalizing on Your Advantages....................................................................... 2
Strategy 1: Creating an Information Advantage.................................................................. 3
11 Ways to Maximize the Information You Generate from the Outside World ................... 4
Strategy 2: Creating a Time Advantage ............................................................................. 7
Strategy 3: Creating a Scope Advantage.......................................................................... 10
Strategy 4: Creating a Scale Advantage........................................................................... 12
Strategy 5: Creating an Innovation Advantage.................................................................. 14
Why Innovation is Challenging for Large Companies................................................... 15
Strategy 6: Setting Your Operating Point Closer to the Funnel Singularity........................... 17
Chapter 2: Attenuating Larger Companies’ Strengths........................................................ 20
Strength 1: Great Senior Managers and Top Technical Talent............................................ 21
5 Tips for Leveraging a Smaller Team of Technical Talent............................................ 22
Strength 2: A Technology Platform in Place with Customers.............................................. 23
Strength 3: A Deep Patent Portfolio and Ongoing New Patents.......................................... 25
Strength 4: User Comfort with a Product’s User Interface Look and Feel............................ 26
Strength 5: Well-Established and Plentiful Customer Relationships................................... 27
3 Types of Large Company Customer Relationships..................................................... 28
Strength 6: Well-Developed Distribution Channels........................................................... 29
Strength 7: A Brand Name and Reputation..................................................................... 31
A Template for Creating and Understanding Brand Associations................................... 33
Chapter 3: Defending Against Larger Companies’ Attacks................................................. 34
The Nature of Large Company Attacks............................................................................ 35
5 Factors that Influence How Aggressively Large Companies Attack............................. 36
How to Defend Against Large Company Attacks............................................................... 37

Chapter 4: Executing Against Execution.......................................................................... 41
Genetically Engineer Your Organization........................................................................... 43
Create Challenging Focal Points..................................................................................... 44
Sample Goals for Every Department.......................................................................... 45
Measure Progress and Make Frequent Adjustments to Close Gaps .................................... 46
Be Flexible................................................................................................................... 46
Wake Up to Your Current Situation................................................................................. 47
End Note..................................................................................................................... 49
Appendix..................................................................................................................... 50

We’ve all heard the story of David and Goliath. It’s a classic
metaphor for small versus big, smarts and strategy versus
power and resources. It’s an allegory that promotes hope for
the little guy. When bigger competitors appear too large to
attack, David’s triumph is a reminder that there’s vulnerability somewhere — you just have to identify and attack it.

If you are going to succeed in a David versus Goliath type of
battle, you must be able to show your customers and prospects the value of a business that’s focused on one product
and one pain point. You’re not going to try to sell them a
suite of solutions that they don’t need — just the thing that
fixes their problem.

Of course, that’s often much easier said than done. David
never had to go up against the likes of IBM, Computer
Associates, BMC, or Microsoft. Some expansion-stage technology companies wage that war every day and it’s not one
that most of them win. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t
opportunities in markets where Goliaths exist, however.

“Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete
Against Their Large Competitors” is intended for CEOs and
senior executives of expansion-stage companies and shows
you how to build a long-term defensible competitive advantage over larger companies. Specifically, you’ll learn how to
capitalize on the natural advantage your smaller company
has over its larger competitors, minimize those larger corporations’ inherent strengths, and execute against your vision
in a way that allows you to keep your foot on the gas and the
pressure on bigger competitors to respond.

Let’s say that you’re the CEO of an expansion-stage company in a $2 billion market and your behemoth competitor
already owns 60 percent of it. Yes, they’re dominating, and
trying to defeat them is an uphill battle you can’t — and
probably shouldn’t — fight. However, there’s still 40 percent
of that $2 billion market that your behemoth competitor
does not control. If you can manage to take 5 percent of the
total remaining market and steal as little as 1 percent away
from that big competitor, you’re looking at potential revenue
that exceeds $50 million.
The challenge is actually identifying your biggest competitors’ vulnerabilities and formulating a plan of attack. What
can you do better than those competitors? What market pain
point are they ignoring? What advantages does your smaller,
nimbler business have relative to customer engagement, talent management, or new market opportunities?

The bottom line is that winning in a market that’s dominated
by a big business isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible. Remember, all you need to excel is a very small piece of their pie.
So, what’s your Goliath’s biggest weakness (or your crowded
market’s biggest need) and how well is your company positioned to go after it?
Scott Maxwell
Senior Managing Director and Founder
OpenView Venture Partners

Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 1

Chapter 1:

Capitalizing on
Your Advantages
In theory, David shouldn’t have had a chance against Goliath. After all, Goliath was a grizzled
warrior with a coat of armor and a massive sword. David, on the other hand, was at least half
Goliath’s size and showed up to the battle with little more than a sling and five stones.
But that didn’t seem to hinder his confidence. That’s probably because David recognized that his
opponent’s advantages (brute strength and size) could also be turned into disadvantages that he
could capitalize on. The same principle holds true for expansion-stage technology companies. This
chapter outlines six strategies that can help small, expansion-stage technology businesses recognize and take advantage of their competitive advantages and use them to expose their much
larger competitors. In the end, that’s the fastest and easiest path to winning the battle against
any proverbial Goliath.

Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 2

). pricing approaches. specific technologies.e. non-customers. you will have a tremendous advantage not only against larger companies. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 3 . By contrast. and it therefore reacts to the environment faster. What melts more slowly. they naturally lose touch with their customers. the large snowball will melt more slowly because its outer layer of snow insulates the snow inside.. it’s just a natural disadvantage that large companies have relative to small ones. Then exploit that advantage by using this information to make adjustments to all aspects of your business (e. more of the snow in the small snowball is exposed to the outside world.g. Big companies have the same basic geometry as a large snowball. marketing messages. This has nothing to do with the quality of the people who work there or the company itself.. Make the most of this by increasing the flow of information into your company. Most of them have a much harder time getting a true feel for their outside world (i. a small snowball or a large one? All things being equal. market. too. and competition) than small companies do. customer service process. suppliers. their customers. etc. product features/functions. Unfortunately. distribution approaches.Strategy 1: Creating an Information Advantage Expansion-stage companies have the natural advantage of being closer to their customers than large companies are. and others outside of your company’s walls). your customers. create an advantage by maximizing the information you generate from the outside world (i.e. So how can you exploit this opportunity? First. as companies evolve.. If you address this issue early in your company’s life. The good news is that every company has the opportunity to increase the flow of information coming in. competitors. but competitors your own size.

including their needs. should be interacting with customers to better their understanding of them. Expose all of your employees to your customers. Conduct pipeline reviews to study each prospect situation to see where you stand in the process. Perform loss reviews as well. it will likely just overwhelm your team. and then gather the feedback. A better approach is to ask the prospect why he or she chose a competitor and for feedback on what you can do better.11 Ways to Maximize the Information You Generate from the Outside World In a rapidly expanding digital world. the best approaches to helping them resolve issues. it’s tempting to gather exceedingly large amounts of data simply for the sake of collecting and having access to it. THREE. Once a trouble ticket is closed. ask them about their interactions. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 4 . the technology that will best meet their needs. or at least all key decision makers. Ultimately. Ask your salespeople. Instead. how they interact with your product. that can be achieved by performing one or all of these activities: ONE. In fact. listen to the phone calls. Your employees use this mental model to help them make decisions. The better their mental model aligns with reality. the key to maximizing your information-gathering efforts is to uncover truly valuable information — not data — that is contextually relevant and beneficial. Speak to several of them to help separate the overarching themes from the one-off situations. hoarding volumes of data won’t do you much good if it’s not actually useful. give them a few questions to ask your customers. That’s why everyone in your organization. the better their decision-making. Your employees walk around with mental models of your customers. Salespeople generally have a very good view of how prospects and customers perceive all aspects of your company. Tracking trouble tickets is one of the best ways to determine how your customers are doing with your product and how you are servicing them. ask your customer for feedback on the process. TWO. However. If you have customer service reps. and the marketing messages that will best resonate with them. Study your customer service interactions. Most loss reviews come from the salesperson’s presumptions.

and prospects. Some product markets have industry analysts who cover providers. FIVE. When the product is on the customer site. it’s a pretty straightforward process of instrumenting your Web interactions with the customer using Web analytics. Another approach is to sit down with customers periodically to really get to know them. SEVEN. mation sharing if it’s done properly. That said. When the product is browser-based. enter your company and product name into Google and start reading. Monitor social networking sites. blogs. Beyond building better usability and conversion into your website. Use your website. though. and surveys are great ways to get information. customers. many customers will still allow the infor- Monitor the Internet. EIGHT. Be careful. most will be willing to give you detailed feedback because they want you to continue getting better. SIX. Ask your customers. User conferences. Incorporate data gathering into your product and then mine that data for useful information. For example. Ask industry analysts. Incorporate Web analytics into your website and then mine the results for useful information. advisory boards. the issues become trickier because privacy issues are more amplified and many customers do not want information flowing out of their computer systems. the Web data can be very useful for improving various functions. message boards. There is a tremendous amount of information available online. Internet forums. and other sites. Once customers have purchased your product. Use your product.FOUR. because they often have a large-company bias. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 5 . Interaction with your customer self-service pages can tell you a lot about their issues with your products. Good analysts tend to have an accurate pulse on the perceptions in the market. Most people reading this already know what to do. visitor interaction with your product pages can tell you a lot about their interests. If you don’t.

If you try to do too much. Find out what your competitors are doing. Start with the easy steps. Also. you need to spend the vast majority of your time building a great product and then selling and servicing it. not data. company wiki. and Alexa. not mandate all of the things you need to do right away. as both sides will be more open given you are not competitors. the small company will have the edge. and all other vehicles you have to manage/monitor progress and communicate internally. But they still have the natural disadvantage of being the large snowball. Work this knowledge into your management meetings. why can’t large companies execute against the same tactics? They can. A natural question is.NINE. that you are looking for. Do the same things you would do to find out more about your competitors. and increase the activities as you grow. and use resources such as Hitwise. Make a list of things you would like to know about your competitors and then get creative about how you are going to (legally and ethically) get the information. Compete. Share what you’ve learned. Study their websites. If the large company and the small company execute these tactics equally well. You can probably get and share some good ideas. and some do. employee feedback systems. but also call the person who shares your role at a related company and invite them to lunch. management reports. e-mail. you will water down your efforts and actually get less useful information. Remember it is information. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 6 . visit their booths at conferences. This list is intended to generate ideas. Ask about their best practices. TEN. Find out what related companies are doing. ELEVEN.

EVP. department members still have trouble communicating. efficient process for acting on it. people divide up into departments and communicate at the department level rather than at the individual level. the employees would have to spend all their time communicating internally. The divisions communicate through a low-bandwidth communication pipe called a VP (or an SVP. and so on. As companies grow. What are the implications of that departmental culture? One of the most obvious is the production of poorly filtered information that lacks a prioritized. That process continues until the story reaches the person who originally told it. the story has been interpreted and verbally annotated to the point where the person who created the story doesn’t recognize it anymore. adjust. approve. To solve this problem.” where a number of people sit in a circle and one person whispers a story into the ear of the person sitting next to them. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 7 . business process software. review. To try to have perfect communication. blogs. there are meetings to contend with — the ultimate bottleneck for large companies — where all of the most important decisions are made. e-mails. For instance. content/information management systems.Strategy 2: Creating a Time Advantage Large companies have a natural disadvantage as they grow because it takes them longer to get things done. think about the old summer camp game of “Telephone. using all of the communication vehicles noted above. Even so. rather than focusing on customers. solid communication between employees becomes much more difficult. Even then. By then. however. They use all kinds of vehicles (phone calls. meetings. An expansion-stage company. So they organize into divisions. and videoconferencing) and a host of other approaches to discuss. can turn on a dime. or a president).

So how do you capitalize on the larger company’s disadvantage? By being nimble and able to pivot. so this approach will be advantageous. The result of all these issues is that planning horizons tend to be in years. It is difficult for large companies to move at the pace of change required to meet the needs of these types of markets. 3 4 Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 8 . That not only impacts those managers’ ability to make key long-term decisions on smaller products or newer markets. Use newer technologies and business model components. The extreme approach would be staying in stealth mode until all the release details are worked out. and boiled down to only its most important elements. good information can be lost and bad information can embed itself into the company. or at least somewhat expected. or even months. Here are some ways to do so: Pick a product market that is rapidly evolving or has dynamic needs or tastes. This is much easier said than done. although both you and the large company have to go up the learning curve on the new technology. but by the time they hit. corporate hierarchy and organizational change management can make it difficult to actually get it done. Markets with needs or interests that change quickly are perfect for small companies — the video gaming industry is a great example. the innovation has moved significantly beyond where they were aimed. you should be able to do so more quickly due to your small size. The innovations that can take place between a large company’s release cycles are tremendous. 2 Build your market before the large companies know what hit them. it also causes them to lose focus on the one thing that really matters — the biggest needs of their customers. but thematically the idea is to build your early market quickly before large companies have time to act. forcing them into meeting or inbox gridlock. it typically is filtered and stripped of key details and nuance. Also. rather than days. weeks. Departmental politics can also create internal issues that eat away at senior managers’ time. Even if those senior managers are able to determine the right course of action. You are probably aiming at the early adopters. As information makes its way through the organizational pipeline. at least initially. for a smaller company. It’s the only way to keep all the groups in rough alignment.The information flow in larger corporations is very similar. The large company essentially designs and launches its missiles. 1 Pick a product market that has significant long-term innovation potential. and killing their productivity. and then exploding into the market. In the process.

The key is to get ahead of the target before the large company’s missiles land. marketing. sales. even for the best companies. and improve your strategic position. such as your product. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 9 . change direction rapidly when you need to. 6 Put your senior management. Get outside the company and meet with customers. When large companies must create change in multiple departments and divisions. It will give you better information and another edge over large companies. industry analysts. 5 Rapidly evolve all aspects of your business. the press. small companies’ time-based advantage is amplified (due to the communication and decision-making issues). particularly your CEO. out in the field as much as possible. and others. and service all at once. marketing messages.Package your whole product offering to include innovations in product. distribution approach. prospects. and customer service. 7 The bottom line is that it takes large companies a significant amount of time to get important things accomplished. and change is difficult. Use your smaller size to capitalize on opportunities quickly. Use your information advantage — and the observation that large companies must have long time horizons — to rapidly move forward all aspects of your business.

Even though they have many more resources. To properly aim your magnifying glass. Get everyone in the company focused on delivering to your niche. The key is that you need to take your available energy and focus it on a point that is small enough to do meaningful work. distribution. The company as a whole needs to focus. they have to spread those resources across a variety of different product markets.Strategy 3: Creating a Scope Advantage Expansion-stage companies are able to focus on one product market. Gain a strategic edge by focusing on a small niche and developing an intense focus on meeting the needs of the target customers in that market. Doing so takes management time and attention. the energy of that focal point intensifies. the expansionstage company has a strategic scope advantage. each group needs to focus. While large companies may have economy-of-scope/economic advantages. Large companies have a difficult time with focus. and each individual needs to focus. 3 Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 10 . 1 Train the energy of the entire company on your chosen niche. but it works. marketing. and customer service. tastes. The activities you need to get focused on include product. Target the specific needs (pain points. while larger companies need to increase their scope to sustain growth. 2 Make sure that each employee is focused on two to four major activities that will make you win in your niche. It’s the same way with your company — if you harness energy into a small focal point. and scenarios) of specific customer types (personas) in a specific market using a specific distribution approach. you need to: Focus on a small niche product market. and only that niche. What happens when you take a magnifying glass and focus the sun’s energy on a single small spot on the ground? It burns. They generally have many products aimed at numerous customer segments using many distribution approaches.

plans. Need more energy given the resources you have available? Just make your focal point smaller. But if you apply it. This is an extremely important point because everyone in your company has ideas they want to pursue that are not necessarily aligned with your focal point. A small staff of truly A-caliber people will allow you to focus your and their time much better than a large staff. It takes a keen understanding of how to divide a market. you should encourage employees to brainstorm new ideas and act on the best ones. staff meetings. reports. customers. For ideas that are not within the current focal point. Most of all. As long as everything centers on your current focal point.Make sure that all management systems reinforce the focus. it takes a tremendous amount of focus and discipline. Kareo Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 11 . it’s important to reinforce the perception that executive leadership is focused on a primary focal point. is a powerful strategy for any That’s not to say that you should totally discourage creative thinking. compensation systems. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t hire for positions you really need. we have created a scope advantage by becoming the only medical office software marketer focused on serving the needs of small medical practices a tactic that has paid significant dividends for the company. Consider developing an elevator pitch that reinforces your focal point strategy and execution. that philosophy will rub off on the rest of your company. the best way to keep your team focused is to not share any of your ideas that fall outside the realm of your focal point. prospects. 4 Set up your company with as small a staff as possible. You hear about focus all the time. At Kareo. The focus should be tied into everything — corporate/department goals. Communication is also critical to maintaining your team’s focus. and deploy innovation around those insights. just that you are better off with as few people as possible. 5 Keep Your Team Focused “Creating a scope advantage To prevent any distractions. you will — like the magnifying glass and the sun — be capable of burning through your niche. and partners until you hear everyone inside and outside of the company repeating it. Ultimately. resource approval processes. While you don’t want to squash innovation and creativity. uncover unique customer insights.” – Dan Rodrigues Founder and CEO. expansion-stage company. etc. pick a target segment. consider keeping a repository that you assure your team you’ll revisit when you decide to expand or pivot the business. and deliver it to employees.

which effectively gives you an opportunity to grow relatively undisturbed. And. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 12 . Beehives can often grow quite large before they are discovered. This niche approach has been around forever. This shortcoming gives expansion-stage companies time to establish a foothold in the market as well as to create some level of defensibility before the large company enters the market. Typically you won’t notice the bees until you get stung. even if they are high-growth. when you are noticed. Bees methodically build up their hives at a small scale. so you’d probably miss the signs that they were there and building their presence. large or small. but continues to be important. The latent market (one that has not yet been discovered) is even better — although more difficult to find — as you will have no competitors. too small and/or out of the way to notice until the market (or competitor) stings them. specialneed markets. you will still have the time advantage. in an out-of-the-way place. It’s the same way for big companies: small markets and/or competitors emerge that are away from their center of attention. It is very difficult for large companies to attack or even be interested in small. The small market most likely has special needs that you can uniquely meet. Build Your Hive Pick a product market that is relatively small or latent to start — something that is probably tucked out of the way.Strategy 4: Creating a Scale Advantage Large companies have difficulty seeing and/or addressing small markets.

and study those. bringing enterprise software to the small business market or bringing consumer ideas to the business market for B2B companies) »» A vertical market that has specific needs that current competitors may not be meeting TWO. If you hear the same answer several times from similar types of people. Great places to look for ideas include venture capital firms’ websites (most list their current portfolio companies).This idea is easier said than done. and then look for related markets that might be too small or off of large companies’ radar. This strategy may seem similar to creating the scope advantage. Pinpoint a product market that large companies do not find interesting. but it’s relatively straightforward if you’re willing to ask a large company’s employees about them. but it is very different. THREE. but here are four tips to get you started: ONE. but believe someone should serve. Uncover a small product market or latent market that one or more expansion-stage companies are attacking. culture. Identify a product market that could be appealing to large companies. While you won’t have competitors. the market will be more difficult to discover because it does not currently exist. The scope advantage is about focus. you might have something worth exploring. The best approach is to talk to people who have a propensity to purchase and/or use products you currently offer. FOUR. Study latent markets. the scale advantage is about what market you should focus on. and/or language »» A different scale point (e. such as: »» A different geography. Ask them about their pain points and what solutions they wish they had. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 13 . This might seem difficult to uncover. When those companies are not planning to address a market now or in the near term.g. blogs. and social networking sites. Pinpoint a market that large companies do not find interesting.. Find latent markets that look interesting that no competitor is going after. Find latent markets that no competitor is going after. they’re often willing to discuss them. Look for related product markets.

nor does borrowing ideas from other companies that have already successfully used the idea. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 14 . the topic is not as complicated as people make it. For purposes of this eBook.Strategy 5: Creating an Innovation Advantage Large companies have difficulty executing against certain types of innovation. The idea needs to be applied and used. and books. and getting them to become users. and many frameworks and methodologies. Expansion-stage companies that understand the challenges can develop specific strategies to come out ahead in the marketplace. The key points are: Someone needs to find the new idea useful or entertaining. manufacturing. Another factor to consider is the innovator’s degree of change or effort applying the idea. Do you get confused when you read about innovation? There seems to be a lot of working definitions. convincing the decision maker(s) to implement the idea. introducing it to the prospective users. distribution (both direct sales and indirect channel sales). including research. actually implementing the innovation. especially from the perspective of the expansion-stage company. marketing. and customer service. suppliers and partners. Innovation starts and ends with the customer. The idea needs to be new. reports. development. innovation can be defined as the creation and application of new ideas that someone finds useful or entertaining. Extrapolations or extensions of older ideas do not fit this definition. This can include real effort in one or more departments. An idea by itself is just an idea. A Degree of Change An innovation can be relatively easy or difficult to apply depending on the user’s degree of change or effort implementing the innovation until it becomes “intuitive.” This includes understanding the benefits of the idea initially. logistics. and guiding users through their learning curves. However.

This includes: »» Incremental innovation. evolutionary innovation (less change) »» Radical innovation. If change must be coordinated across departments. powerful economic concepts that help them reduce their cost structure and achieve higher operating margins. which makes it easier to set priorities. and the need to reduce proposed new initiatives to numerical analysis. The need for fact-based analysis comes from some combination of management training (business schools teach fact-based analysis). those issues include the following: They primarily focus on their core product markets. or established customer relationships — and leave smaller opportunities up for grabs. Politics also tends get in the way of appropriate decision-making. Often times. Essentially. revolutionary innovation (more change) »» Closed innovation (ideas and application approaches come from inside a single organization) »» Open innovation (ideas and application approaches come from inside and outside an organization) Why Innovation is Challenging for Large Companies The list of issues that typically prevent well-run large companies from driving true innovation is a lengthy one and. especially when change is significant. This economic gain creates less ability to change (due to complexity in each department). particularly when employees become more concerned with career advancement. They tend to be very difficult to change. Since most large companies are public.All of the different terms that people put on innovation seem to boil down to the degree of change and where the ideas are coming from. large companies are typically older. some level of needing “proof” or evidence that a project will be successful. they need to show revenue and earnings growth each quarter. large companies tend to play to their strengths — their products. More often than not. Making matters worse. marketing. not surprisingly. As a result. after all). Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 15 . let alone to change quickly. this means that different products share manufacturing processes. The most effective way for them to do that is to focus on selling to the larger opportunities in their core markets. the difficulty level grows exponentially. it’s significantly larger for businesses that are poorly run. They tend to be fact-based and sometimes political in their decision-making. platforms. distribution. That’s because large companies rely on economies of scale and economies of scope. and all other areas of the company. finance. That process tends to reject many of the new ideas that come through the pipeline in favor of lower-risk initiatives (ideas are very fragile when they are new. the people who originally did the thinking behind the processes in each department have left the business or department altogether. and channels of distributions already in place.

That might include developing technology that larger competitors would have difficulty building into their current platform. TWO. Rather than doing that. For instance. but expansion-stage companies must also do the following: ONE. if you aim directly at a large company’s core business. the more difficulty larger companies will have performing the fact-based analysis they often rely on. Focus on innovations that conflict with the large companies’ decisionmaking process. customer segments not addressed by the large competitor. you’ll need to create an innovation that completely disrupts its business or economic model. That will allow you to continue innovating while larger companies attempt to catch up. There is a tremendous ecosystem of potential users. and lawyers who are all interested in helping emerging companies ascend the innovation curve and build their businesses. accountants. expansion-stage businesses can have a significant innovation advantage over their far less nimble large competitors. you might explore new technologies for larger companies’ existing products. The more you build your network. Remember. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 16 . VCs. the more it will help your innovation. you should choose innovation opportunities that have a long runway. consultants. expansion-stage companies can create an innovation advantage if they’re able to focus on the right opportunities and execute against them. or executing an approach that would require significant change to one or several of a larger business’s departments. That starts with hiring top talent. Make it difficult for larger companies to incorporate your innovation into their core business. THREE. Build the best network possible to help guide you. The key is to understand your leverage points and use them to maximize impact. senior managers (both retired and active). and increase your lead with rapid innovation advancement.Focusing on the Right Opportunities Because it’s more difficult for larger companies to innovate. If done right. The fewer facts available. or completely new distribution channels and customer service models.

pricing. the limit is a singularity. rather than allocating significant resources against sales and marketing activities.g. No matter where your large competitor has placed itself. companies can now execute that strategy more aggressively.. product. With today’s Internet-based sales and marketing approaches. The Basic Elements of Funnel Economics Funnel economics is essentially: cash flow generated by sales & marketing activity sales & marketing expenses If you shrink the denominator faster than the numerator. The basic idea here is to make everything (e. it could be a formula for a very successful company.Strategy 6: Setting Your Operating Point Closer to the Funnel Singularity One of the best ways for smaller expansion-stage companies to combat their Goliath competitors is to create a profit machine that is very difficult for those businesses to compete against. The closer you get to zero sales and marketing expense while still growing the business. customer service) so compelling to target customers that they purchase the product without significant sales and marketing effort or expense. This strategy is perfect for small companies competing against large ones. it would be by allocating your resources against nailing the customer experience at low price points. How do you do that? Traditionally. however. From a business standpoint. if you aim for this economic singularity in a very large market. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 17 . set your operating point closer to the funnel singularity. the better you have executed against this strategy.

This strategy has some really basic but powerful requirements: »» Make something useful and make it really easy to install. applications. The key is to keep pushing for efficiency and to keep sales and marketing costs as low as possible relative to the gross profit generated by an activity. which should drive customer adoption Don’t confuse this approach with simply eliminating sales and marketing. To be effective. Think about it this way: Each of the six strategic requirements listed above have control knobs that your company’s management can rotate to set the optimal level for each element. you simply need to focus on aiming toward the economic singularity and make sure that you start closer to it than your competitors do. determined mostly by user response to each element. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 18 .). These themes have been applied successfully to companies selling to consumers. small businesses. increasing resources spent on the product. however for reasons other than purely an aggressive sales and marketing effort. You still need both. your company must find its optimal operating point. and update »» Design into the package one or more “features” that will compel users to tell people about the product. etc. Next. and large enterprises in all areas of information technology (infrastructure. possibly explosively. The core assumption to test is that you can improve your results by decreasing sales and marketing resources. Identifying the Optimal Operating Point The six items listed above are powerful. First. the better the strategy works. use. it should still be growing. The strategy can be deployed in different forms at different operating points by every company selling to any customer segment. and reducing the price (or eliminating it for a period of time). and influential people to write and talk about it »» Make the purchase transaction as simple and easy as possible »» Constantly improve the product with rapid development cycles »» Give away free beta and trial versions of the product. Companies that sell to consumers or a universe of small/midsized businesses will have a better outcome than companies that only have a few hundred (or fewer) possible customers. provided the segment is large enough. software as a service. and price it competitively once the free period ends »» Keep the sales and marketing expenses (the denominator) as low as possible. configure. the larger the market. If a company sets the right operating point in the right market situation. but there are a handful of other issues that every company must consider. and put your resources toward the first five elements of the strategy.

or they might be far more unique to your market or product. Whether it’s great senior management or technical talent. or well-developed channels of distribution. we will discuss some of the most common large-company strengths and provide some tips for attenuating them. Without knowing your own strengths and formulating a plan to capitalize on them. the six strategies listed in this chapter should help you better identify those advantages and understand how they can be applied against your market’s Goliath. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 19 . it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to expose your larger competitors’ weaknesses or maneuver around their strengths. Regardless of what they are. that’s the key to engaging in any sort of battle against your market’s biggest players. In the next chapter. no large company is impenetrable if you know how to identify the gaps in its armor. a deep patent portfolio. Ultimately.It’s All About Your Advantages Your specific competitive advantages might have been covered in this chapter.

you should be able to formulate a plan to mitigate your larger competitors’ seemingly insurmountable strengths. By the end of this chapter. among many other assets. Including the ones listed above. stronger brand recognition.Chapter 2: Attenuating Larger Companies’ Strengths Large companies do have some natural advantages. create an edge. However. your larger competitors likely possess: Great senior managers and top technical talent A technology platform already in place with customers A deep patent portfolio and ongoing new patents User comfort with their user interface Welldeveloped channels of distribution This chapter addresses each of those strengths — along with a few others — and shows you how to attenuate the large company’s strengths in each of these areas. In fact. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 20 . there are some ways expansion-stage companies can minimize the strengths of large companies and. Let’s start by exploring the primary strengths of big companies. those strengths do not mean that your smaller business should quiver in fear. They tend to have tremendous capital and human resources. in many cases. and wider market presence.

Keep in mind that some A-caliber people will fit into your organization better than others. the amount of time these senior managers can spend on a given product market is very small.Strength 1: Great Senior Managers and Top Technical Talent Well-run large companies have great senior managers and employees at all levels and they generally have recruited and trained a large bench over the years. Therefore. they will still be a great addition to your team and you won’t be competing against large companies for them. the senior manager advantage over expansion-stage companies in a given product market is more perceived than real. these processes become necessary to compete against more well-structured competitors. The truth is that most great products originate from a small group of talented architects. you might want to look for managerial and employee talent that is more risk-seeking and hands-on. But as you grow. you need to convey to them a sense that the company has a high probability of success and that they will succeed along with it. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 21 . as they often have too much on their plate. For example. As a result. you probably did not want or need to establish formal processes. While those people may not possess the understanding of formal processes. especially if you are recruiting them away from a well-run large company. engineers. When your company was in earlier stages of development. job candidates who are experienced with formal processes will add much more value. How to attenuate the large company’s management strength… Hire a talented A-caliber staff that knows how to establish the processes you need. and developers rather than a large corporate team. However. For any top prospect that you want to hire. A large company’s sizable division of great technical talent is more of a perceived advantage as well.

5 Tips for Leveraging a Smaller Team of Technical Talent Contrary to popular belief. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 22 . There is no magic formula here. It also seems to keep people excited about coming to work and it forces all aspects of the business to work in a well-choreographed manner. Make everyone sit together. make sure to discuss your funding source and give the candidate confidence that the funders are behind the company. This is particularly important for more senior candidates that you’re competing against other companies for. That tension will result in better technology through productive discussion. and encourage debate. Discussing the company’s funding. What customer segments are you attacking? What is your approach? Why will it win relative to others? If possible. as it will leave the impression of a more substantial and wellsupported company. The better the product and the more happy customers you have. Make it substantive. advisory board members. Create an organizational structure that activates a healthy tension between groups. Having too many people in this group will actually hurt its production. Exposing them to your advisors. If you focus on these staffing and organizational tips. Yes. and be sure that it is both achievable and interesting. etc. Expand the group only when the product is ready for it. the better you will show. and multiple great leaders working together is one of the most important ingredients for success for all companies. the better. Implement rapid development cycles. it is easy to show. you should encourage top prospective employees to meet with them. demonstrate progress against that vision as well.). you might organize them by designers. angel investors.A few ways to do this include: Outlining a vision for the company. If you are profitable. VCs. If you lack profits. expansion-stage companies actually start off with a strategic edge when it comes to technical talent. share it with prospects. you can increase your advantage: Inject the customer into the process and the people. which results in much more rapid product and business model evolution. Your company’s core group of developers and engineers should consist of three to five highly talented people who work well together and have a very good feel for the best approach to building products quickly. Don’t give one group more power than the others. and product testers. The closer the development group is to the customer’s needs. but if everyone is together it will inevitably create more — and better — communication opportunities. If your team is divided into groups. Keep in mind that adding only one great leader to an expansion-stage company can make a significant difference. you have to hire the best candidates you can find. developers. If you’ve surrounded your company with great advisors (board members. projects can get done without people sitting in the same space. and make iterative improvements. This approach gives you great starting points to examine the product. but if you’re going to attenuate the large company’s talent strength.

Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 23 . No matter what that platform is or how well it is distributed. larger companies can simply incorporate it into their platform. A great example of a company using this approach is Salesforce. there is always a segment of the population that is not satisfied with it. and those platforms are often integrated with customers’ other applications and data sources. you could neutralize one of your competitors’ major advantages. don’t force a different architecture. They can continue evolving this platform by adding functionality. create customer-driven function in your product that results in the fundamentally different architecture. which is a big advantage over smaller companies scratching and clawing to survive. There are several architectural ways of doing and build in capabilities that fundamentally need a different platform. Creating an approach that is completely separate from the large company platform is also a logical way of minimizing its advantage. which has a wholly Web-based approach to CRM that is completely different than the traditional installed software architecture used by some of its biggest competitors. How to attenuate the large company’s technology platform strength… The first thing you should do is focus on the prospects who are not using (or don’t want to continue using) a large company’s platform. Instead. In other words. so think carefully about the natural architectural possibilities for your platform. if your business develops a good idea that is easily replicable.Strength 2: A Technology Platform in Place with Customers Larger companies typically have a technology platform in place with many customers. If you aim at that segment. And.

you might: Focus on tactical feature/function enhancements to the large company’s platform. For example. Create a deep domain expertise that leverages the platform but makes it very difficult for the large company to replicate. These approaches work no matter whether your target users are small businesses. you will minimize any individual company’s platform strength and probably gain a slight edge (some people refer to this as “living in the white space between large vendors”). Focus on customer needs when the large company releases the next generation of its platform. back-up systems. Some opportunities could include migration of data and user settings to the new platform. For example. or other large organizations. though this option comes with unique challenges that you must be prepared for.Another option is to create an approach that leverages more than one large company platform at the same time. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 24 . For example. administrative systems). the more important these approaches become. make sure you approach the situation in a way that mitigates the platform advantage of the large companies. Most large companies are so focused on their next-generation platform that they leave many holes for expansion-stage companies to fill with respect to user needs. migration of all other supporting infrastructure (connectors. Lastly. This strategy works in the short term. you could embrace a large company’s platform. If your product or service leverages the natural heterogeneity of any user environment. but large companies tend to want to build their own platforms rather than share the best of all the large company platforms. governments. C360 has a platform that leverages Microsoft CRM and users say it does an excellent job extending the capabilities of the core platform. large enterprises. This is more an observation than a structural issue. For example. and its depth of domain expertise and software/service sophistication makes it very difficult for Microsoft to re-create it. In all cases. Veritas (now part of Symantec) grew to become a very large company by providing data lifecycle management solutions for all the major platforms. but you need to be extremely nimble and always ready to release the next generation of feature/function when the large company builds your feature/ function into its products (and it will if the ideas are useful). and allowing simultaneous use of both the old and new platforms. The more you aim at the business product markets. Acorn Systems has a profit and cost allocation system for businesses that uses solely Microsoft infrastructure.

this is becoming a very serious issue that virtually all technology companies must consider. dealing with patents is often a tremendous resource drain. That said. Offensive strategy. companies need to develop approaches to maximize and leverage their position. »» You can use your patents as a negotiation tool if a large company claims you have violated its patents. is all about acquiring your own patents. It is likely. or at least possible. In fact. Both are important. which can also allow you to make money beyond your product market sales.Strength 3: A Deep Patent Portfolio and Ongoing New Patents Most large companies have a large patent portfolio along with an ongoing machine that churns out new patents. you can play defense and offense. that you will get tripped up in one or more of a large company’s patents if you are not careful. »» You can position your business to monetize its ideas through royalties and agreements. and act accordingly to minimize the large company’s patent strength. How to attenuate the large company’s patent strength… From an expansion-stage company perspective. on the other hand. allowing you to defend your approach and make it harder for others to attack. Defensive strategy is all about making sure you know the patents in your field and understanding them well enough so that you develop your platform in a way that does not conflict with those patents. largely because there are three possible benefits for having your own patents: »» They can give you protection. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 25 . As a result. Some experts say this is the more important strategy.

making it very difficult for growthstage companies to disrupt that advantage. the more important it becomes to the overall platform (and. How to attenuate the large company’s user interface strength… All too often. in general. as the user interface becomes a natural part of the user’s day. The more frequently a user interacts with a product’s UI.Strength 4: User Comfort with a Product’s User Interface Look and Feel Regardless of which technology platform you decide to implement. For instance. When you focus on their needs. is often the single most important piece of technology in software or Internet companies. If you make your interface easier and more fun to use. If you can align your UI with an approach that your users are already comfortable with. or integrate your UI with different devices (e.. This approach does not necessarily minimize the large company’s user interface advantage.g. the more valuable the platform becomes to the user). the user interface (UI) is an independent issue altogether. while also having the greatest opportunity for improvement. there are many ways you can improve the UI experience for all your users. There are often many opportunities to make a UI much better through deeper integration with the user platform. Create a similar look and feel to the large company’s UI. after all. So what should you do if you’re facing that situation? There are three relatively simple steps you can take to mitigate a larger competitor’s UI advantage: Embrace and extend the UI already in place. you might give users access to popular features or functions regardless of whether they have a network connection. You don’t always have to simply adapt to or embrace a competitor’s UI. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 26 . then you stand to make your product feel more intuitive. That UI. the approach becomes more and more intuitive to them. Make your UI easy and fun. but it does at least allow you to align yourself with it. As users become comfortable with a particular interface. you could create a radically better experience for your target customer segment. Over time. larger competitors with more established products own their user interfaces. smartphones or tablets) that they use to interact with your software. that user comfort creates some level of vendor lock-in.

and online tutorials. Strength 5: Well-Established and Plentiful Customer Relationships Well-run large companies have numerous great customer relationships that typically result from all of the value-add points of contact with their customers including marketing. The best big businesses spend a great deal of time maintaining and improving those relationships over time. and then contacting the large company to discuss ways in which you might be able to work together. Just like cash reserves can help you get through natural disasters like a hurricane or earthquake. With myriad new approaches to developing customer relationships — including online chat. sales. This generally means going after small and midsized businesses. and customer service. you might target prospects that the large company does not have relationships with or where the relationships are weaker. professional services. FAQs. This strategy works particularly well if you have a product set that is highly complementary to the large company’s. e-mail. By using one of the strategies above. product bugs. try aiming directly at the large company relationships. municipalities. or training videos — there are tremendous opportunities to produce much better relationships with your customers and prospects. strong customer relationships can help big businesses survive issues such as better competing product releases. First. Lastly. Those relationships are similar to a well-stocked bank account. or unplanned life hiccups like job losses.Large companies tend to have solid UI approaches. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 27 . and consumers. vendors. but no interface is without flaws. and other temporary setbacks. voice recognition in phone systems. The best approach is to try to get a small number of sales by aligning your product with the large company’s products. and most have areas that could be greatly improved. Alternatively. and distributors. How to attenuate the large company’s relationship strength… While it’s often difficult for an expansion-stage company to compete head-to-head with a large company that has built great relationships with its customers. your company could establish a new approach that disrupts — in a positive way — a user’s comfort with a larger competitor’s UI. you might radically rethink your approach to serving your prospects and customers in all segments. it’s not impossible.

In fact. support team. installing. assuming those channel partnerships are strong. which should help you analyze those relationships and develop a strategy to address them: Very strong direct relationships: Large enterprise and government sales that involve field sales staff and professional services staff selling. Not surprisingly. “Many small business owners often think that their large competitors have an advantage in the marketplace when it comes to sales. are still very difficult to penetrate. is still very important to relationship building). Nevertheless. while not as strong as field sales. as they do not generally involve human contact (which. these types of relationships are the strongest. adaptable. The sheer size of their sales force. But the reality is that when it comes to sales. Here are three greatly simplified characterizations of larger company customer relationships.3 Types of Large Company Customer Relationships It is important for expansion-stage companies to understand the strength of relationships that the large company has with its different customer segments. Virtual relationships: Internet-based relationships are probably the weakest relationships. configuring. despite our virtual world.” – Kelley Robertson. and marketing budget can cause sleepless nights for many of them. vendors. resellers. indirect relationships that companies created through distributors. including being more accessible. Solid inside sales relationships: Direct telesales relationships can also create strong relationships that. or OEMs probably fit into this category. and agile — all characteristics that serve them well in establishing successful customer relationships. being a bigger company isn't always better. virtual relationships can be valuable if they are developed and addressed correctly. Also. smaller companies have several advantages. President of The Robertson Training Group Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 28 . and training at the customer’s location generally produce very strong relationship bonds with the customers (assuming there is a positive outcome).

lower price point. Those distribution channels can come in several flavors including direct and indirect. Generally. Large companies typically spend years perfecting their distribution channels. you could align your business with your larger competitors’ distribution channels. This relationship can result in more prospect introductions and valuable indirect channel partners. you could use telesales into departments of large enterprises if the larger competitor uses field sales into those same large enterprises. reach. tenure. and they generally have well-thought-out distribution approaches that function at a very high level. or focus on distribution channels where the larger companies aren’t involved or have some well-known issues. provided your product complements theirs. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 29 . How to attenuate the large company’s distribution channel strength… First. you can mitigate larger businesses’ distribution channel strength by developing channels of your own that are more efficient than the ones used by larger companies. and network. For example. Lastly. and more efficient customer service. but they’re almost universally leveraged to efficiently sell more products and services to a wider audience. You could also align yourself with a large company’s biggest competitor. are not currently working with your larger competitors. those two options are best executed by contacting indirect channel partners that have pre-established relationships with your target customers and. for one reason or another. large companies seem to naturally have well-developed direct and indirect distribution channels that allow them to deliver their products and services in a more cost-effective and scalable manner.Strength 6: Well-Developed Distribution Channels Because of their size. This needs to be part of an overall strategy that includes offering a simpler and more targeted product.

However. Start with direct distribution. If you have ever siphoned gas from a gas tank. indirect channels take a very long time to build. This will teach them how it’s done and show them how easy it is to make money relative to selling other products and services that are in their catalog. which is hard for many companies to swallow (especially if they have a direct sales culture). and how you can craft a package that will help them.No matter which distribution strategy you choose. services. you know that just putting the hose into the tank doesn’t do anything. Relative to direct channels. you will need to pursue a direct strategy. The best way to do that is to find out who they currently do business with. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 30 . You need direct access to and relationships with the end users so you can perfect your product. then you will want to pursue this strategy. if you are building a large company or if you have a product or service that is a natural fit for indirect channel sales. Prime the pump. They also require you to relinquish some economics. Perform some research to truly understand the channel partner segments that are best for you. Growth-stage businesses also benefit greatly from acquiring some customers by word-of-mouth. though. use the following approach: ONE. work on expanding your reach by building up indirect channels. Then you can offer value to channel partners by letting them know what’s in it for them. you will need to offer up leads and help close some deals with each of your channel partners. Once you have perfected your value proposition to your customers directly. why they work with those partners. and marketing messages. THREE. Work on expanding your reach. Just like you need to create suction to get the gas flowing into the bucket. If you need or want short-term results. TWO. prime the pump. When that value proposition is finally ironed out.

branding has been turned into a relatively esoteric topic by business experts. That’s typically because those larger companies’ brands have become too complex. or see your symbol. a brand or reputation is not necessarily a tangible thing like a company. large companies benefit from many years in the marketplace. If you think about social media. However. you would have a much more difficult time describing or picturing what those brands represent. for example. The relationship between a brand and its mental model is not as clear-cut for some large companies. it likely conjures up images of Web searches and results pages (the mental model). thought process. In both cases. if you boil down a brand to its essence. however. If someone mentions Facebook (the brand). and logos or symbols that are well-recognized by a large number of customers and prospects.Strength 7: A Brand Name and Reputation In a lot of ways. the brand and the mental model are interchangeable. Facebook is probably one of the first brands to come to mind. For instance. name. it’s basically the mental model (or models) that your customers. or your news feed (the mental model). and partners have developed for your company and its products and services. How to attenuate the large company’s brand and reputation strength… When you think about some companies. taste. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 31 . touch. their reputation often precedes them and you can probably define their brand relatively quickly. a repeatable biochemical reaction) that gets triggered in people’s minds when they read or hear your name. sound. After all. prospects. feeling. if someone says Google (the brand). employees. you likely picture its trademark blue logo and font. or any other type of reaction. It’s a psychological state (more specifically. In that sense. for example. IBM. or symbol. product. which typically allow them to develop a well-known name. or they’ve lost focus. If someone asked you to describe Oracle. That mental model could be an image. or Microsoft.

Apple’s iPad stands alone. rather than muddy your existing one with new mental models or brand associations. The same applies to the company’s laptop and desktop computer offerings. Anything you do that is not aligned with the message does not reinforce it and will probably complicate it. and then link your company to them. link the right ones together. THREE. start communicating it. customer service. expansion-stage companies can seize the opportunity to become the brand in their particular market niche. the iPhone is widely considered a category leader. Determine the best message for your company or product. Apple is an example of a company that is particularly good at doing that. Ultimately. too. In the mobile phone market. larger technology companies would develop their brands at the product level as they grow. How do you get people to understand how you fit into their world? You could start from scratch and try to explain everything. however. Apple is the rare exception to the rule. you’ll win. Recite it often enough so that senior management. a clear mental model is triggered. marketing activities. larger companies do not develop individual brands very well. The goal should be simple: When people hear or see your company’s name or logo. and prospects or customers are repeating it. The idea is to plant enough seeds so that the mental model eventually spreads itself organically. Make sure that every activity you do is aligned with your message. and everything else you do must reinforce your message as simply and effectively as possible. you may want to create a new brand entirely. Each brand stands for something. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 32 . salespeople. Given that failure to effectively manage a portfolio of products and services. that can be achieved by following three steps: ONE. Generally. and consumers know exactly which parent company stands behind them. Deliver your mental model repeatedly. or you could simply adapt to pre-existing mental models and brand associations. The product. Package the mental model. keep in mind the importance of developing and maintaining your brand portfolio. Once you have the message that you want to deliver. customer service reps. While that’s not common practice with technology companies. In the tablet category. and sometimes confuse buyers by including their company name in individual product brands. sales. TWO. the marketing team. As you grow. If you can understand those associations.Ideally. outside influencers. it should be. As you enter new market or customer segments. professional service.

your survival largely depends on your ability to prepare for those attacks. It is much more important to have one simple message and to over-communicate it. Undercut Their Strengths Aside from their sheer size. you run the risk of awakening a sleeping giant. it’s your job to identify your larger competitors’ advantages and disadvantages. They’re less nimble. Of course. it might open the door to significant growth opportunities for your business. you may be able to navigate around their jousts entirely or. So. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 33 . larger companies have some clear disadvantages. and. we will explore the myriad flavors of large company attacks and provide five tips that will help you defend against them. But for all of their advantages. Like Goliath. turn the sword on them. as soon as you throw that first stone. and ignore any approaches that are overly complex. reach. Identify a simple approach (like the one above) that will help you form a simple message. and brainstorm ways that you might be able to mitigate or exploit them. and networks. every big business has a soft spot that’s just waiting to be exposed. One approach that he suggests for the elevator pitch (with some slight modifications) addresses these key pieces of information: »» For (insert specific target customers) »» Who are dissatisfied with (insert the current alternative) »» Our product is a (insert new product category) »» That provides (insert key problem-solving capability) »» Unlike (insert the alternative product) »» We have assembled (insert all aspects of your customer approach. too. better yet. If you can do that. than to try to get too clever and ultimately cloud the message. As an expansion-stage company. what do you do when Goliath picks up his sword? In the next chapter. less aware. in some cases.A Template for Creating and Understanding Brand Associations Geoffrey Moore describes several approaches to creating brand associations in his classic. Ultimately. big businesses often possess the capital strength to overpower any potential threat. reputation. If you’re able to anticipate your opponents’ actions before they actually happen. less desperate to succeed. must-read book Crossing the Chasm. which he calls the “whole product”) There are many ways to boil down messages to their core meaning and develop the right mental model for your audience.

Chapter 3: Defending Against Larger Companies’ Attacks If you are successful. This chapter explores the nature of large company attacks. Prepare now so you’ll be ready to defend yourself when a large company comes knocking. you can’t afford to wait for that response to happen. and create a plan of action that will help you defend against a larger company’s assault proactively and aggressively. As a smaller company. and lays out a plan to help you build a fortress that will insulate your growing business from those threats. You need to prepare for it well in advance. discusses the specific steps you need to take now to prepare for those inevitable attacks. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 34 . Once a large company discovers you or your niche — or gets stung by your growth — it won’t be long until it responds and tries to reclaim its share of the market (or attempts to wipe you out entirely). sooner or later you will be attacked.

this attack vector will be much less effective. It typically begins with a heavy dose of fear. and other customer communications that trumpet new products in your market. those attacks will generally attempt to derail your progress through a series of tactics. and doubt. First. Generally. and destroy your reputation. Large companies will plant the announcements with the media outlets and industry analysts that they have relationships with so that these influencers can help them facilitate that sense of uncertainty and doubt. large businesses typically attempt to create fear. and doubt by flooding the market with new product announcements. but it can also occur through claims of patent infringement. has a much greater chance of disrupting expansion-stage businesses’ progress. on the other hand. whether or not those products currently exist. In an effort to confuse the market. A highly focused organic attack. or if it can encourage a third party to take action on a patent that you might be infringing on. The unfocused attack (which. large companies might opt to execute focused and unfocused organic attacks. seems to be used quite often by larger corporations) essentially involves building and launching the large company’s product within existing departments with existing staff. This tactic typically manifests itself through large company sales reps or business development people attacking your business in one-on-one conversations with customers and prospects. and marketing 2 An onslaught of product promotions and permanent price adjustments (the most aggressive attacks offer free products) 3 Some level of bundling. that patent approach only works when the large company has at least one patent that you might be infringing on. sales. befuddle your company’s leadership. focused teams 1 Heavy spending on product development. Next. large company attacks often come from several different angles (also known as attack vectors).The Nature of Large Company Attacks Like a barrage of punches from a heavyweight champion. uncertainty. because the new product will not get the attention and focus it needs to compete against a solid expansion-stage company. customer meetings. This often comes in the form of press releases. large companies will attempt to attack your company’s — or your management team’s — reputation. webinars. Of course. If those tactics didn’t derail your business. uncertainty. fortunately for expansion-stage companies. including possibly building your features or function into their platform 4 Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 35 . and includes: A reorganization of the company to assemble highly skilled.

larger companies might simply offer to buy your business or your best competitor. Venture Partner. Whether the product market or a particular business’s core strengths align strategically with their current and future business needs. They’ve got to decide which emerging businesses are the most dangerous. Of course. “ Throughout my career. they try to convince customers that any smaller competitors are also weaker and won’t survive. First they broadcast that they have all of the same products and capabilities as their competitors.” George Roberts. because many large companies will make an offer simply to gather intelligence and understand your company and its products in greater detail. By focusing on the points outlined in this chapter and being prepared.If none of those approaches proves effective. Ultimately. the more likely they are to react swiftly and aggressively with one of the tactics discussed in this chapter. Second. they typically consider five key factors: How much they believe a new product or new product market will damage their core business. the more larger competitors believe that those five factors could impact their current and future health. How large and profitable they believe this new market is and will become. To do that. It’s important to remain skeptical and defensive when you receive acquisition offers. How aggressively they need or want to grow. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 36 . and determine how aggressively they should attack those threats. How their corporate culture and senior management style aligns with the threat (some companies are more acquisition oriented. you can help undermine their attack. while others skew more toward organic growth). OpenView Venture Partners 5 Factors that Influence How Aggressively Large Companies Attack Larger businesses can’t spend all of their time and energy worrying about every startup and growth-stage business that tries to steal a piece of their pie. that tactic is only effective if you — or your best expansion-stage competitor — is actually interested in being acquired and the offer is beneficial to both parties. which implies that using any of them is a waste of time and money and that you are risking your job if you do so. I’ve seen countless large companies use fear as a tactic against their smaller more nimble competitors. regardless of whether or not it’s true… including on their websites and in the marketing literature and PowerPoint presentations they give their sales teams.

you will probably win (unless you are unlucky). if a large company perceives the market to be a small number of buyers. most great football coaches would tell you that the biggest games are really won and lost before the game actually begins. The more you dominate your market niche. The market will hold more interest to the large company if it appears larger and more profitable. We’ve already discussed these concepts in Section 1. However. and the more you are able to implement them successfully. Whether it’s a well-thought-out game plan or weeks of preparation and game film study. 2: Delay the attack as long as possible You have the opportunity to manage the large company’s perception of both you and your product market. the advertising-driven business model is an example of economics that are very opaque to outsiders. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 37 . it will likely have less interest. Focal Point No. 1: The best defense is a good offense Your first major focal point should be maximizing your advantages and minimizing the large company advantages. the better your opportunity will be to hold all of the proverbial paint brushes. the higher the likelihood that it will win.How to Defend Against Large Company Attacks Whether it’s a 60-yard Hail Mary pass or an interception returned for a touchdown. Even with good customer economics. whereas a product with a set customer price is easier to understand. In the end. If you wait until an attack begins to respond. however. you will probably lose (unless you are lucky). Therefore. You need to consider their window into your company and product market and determine how you can paint that window with the scene that you want them to see. Focal Point No. If. »» Focus on a niche market. there are almost always several game-changing plays throughout a football game. the large company’s perspective will help determine the emphasis that it places on attacking your market. you prepare for every possible scenario and formulate a strategy for defending potential attacks. the more prepared a team is to execute its in-game strategy. and if it seems relatively easy to win. Defending against a large company attack is no different. The latter requires expansion-stage companies to understand five key defensive focal points and use them in the appropriate situations. your goals should be to: »» Make the customer economics appear very lean or opaque at first. For instance. the more defensible you will be to the large company’s attack.

and there were a lot of early naysayers. For example. make your product relatively inexpensive and easy to switch off. »» Make your approach too unique for the large company.»» Identify an older market. uncertainty. Webex. the more naysayers there will be in the large organization. Ultimately. There are several ways to minimize the effectiveness of that approach. An extremely unique product or business model will catch the large company flatfooted for a very long time. if those decision makers have any questions or concerns about your product or product market. The more buyers or channel partners believe that their business will be harmed by waiting for that integration. The less data that is available on the approach and the more differentiated it is from the large company’s business however. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 38 . Lastly. the less the decision maker will be worried about taking a leap of faith. Furthermore. Focal Point No. The first is to focus on customers that aren’t enterprise businesses. the smaller the decision-making group. the less likely it is they’ll be impacted by fear tactics. configuration. Salesforce. and Skype are all great recent examples of this. Doing new things in an old market is not very attractive on the surface. If you’re not prepared for that barrage. Similarly. most large company attacks are initiated by a deluge of fear. Try to keep all of those costs as low as possible if you suspect that a larger competitor is ready to attack. and doubt. and system migration. Salesforce. The lower the cost of a buyer’s mistake. remove any incentive for customers or resellers to wait for a large company to incorporate your product features into its own product. Next. that approach can quickly dent your armor and make you more vulnerable to ensuing attacks. professional services. 3: Add the Teflon coating As we discussed earlier in this chapter. which will likely prevent any real attack. the better your chances are of convincing them to do business with you now. Keep in mind that costs include everything from the actual price of the product to entered an older market in a new way. they’ll likely discuss them with you directly. Google. Google probably bought itself a lot of time against its competitors because earlier search engines had not been very successful.

4: Fortify your position Once a large company decides that it is interested in your market. »» A wealth of capital. Also. the stronger and more defensible it will make you appear.Focal Point No. you want that business to look at you and think. If you do all of the above very well. and established or secured it will make it more difficult for larger businesses to replicate. an intuitive user interface. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 39 . such as an easily evolvable architecture. Products in this category tend to have some specific characteristics. For example.” For that to happen. the more capital you have that the large company knows about. “This company is going to be extremely difficult to displace. A very high growth rate with a positive cash flow or a strong balance sheet can also make your business seem less vulnerable. the more you will be able to defend against attacks. Salesforce. »» Business and economic models that are extremely difficult to replicate. Webex. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to seek venture capital as soon as possible. you should strive to develop the following characteristics: A large number of really happy customers who speak highly of you and your products. wide-ranging product platform interoperability. significant product engineering and development. The fewer employees that leave your business. That will ultimately come from building a product that meets your customers’ deepest needs. The more aspects of your business and economic models that the large company does not have. the less opportunity a competitor will have to mine critical product information. You should strive to be the Facebook. Low employee turnover is also a critical component of product replication. If it does. or Google of your market niche. If your product leverages either one. many large companies do not use unique channels of distribution or have customer service built into their products. The more capital you have. Apple. providing outstanding customer support. the large company will have a much lower probability of organizing itself to compete directly with you. however. you will have a much better probability of defending the attack. the more difficult it will be to copy your product or service. »» A very specific brand identity in your product market. »» A product that is extremely difficult to replicate. and continuing to focus on customer experience.

The more time you invest in preparing for an attack. For example. you’ll need to genetically engineer your organization around a set of key principles. then you should hold out for a very strategic price or just go it alone (in which case.Focal Point No. while keeping its foot pressed firmly on the gas pedal. you need to be very careful about the information that you offer up in negotiations). If. if you are convinced that you will win regardless of a large company’s attack. you need to consider what would happen if you chose to accept or reject an acquisition offer. In other words: »» What is the probability that a large company would execute a very targeted attack at you if you turned down its offer. however. it will probably approach you — and your competitors — to discuss a potential acquisition. create challenging focal points that keep everyone on the same page. you are less confident in your company’s ability to fend off an attack and conclude that this large company is your only potential acquisition partner. and. or that it would choose to purchase your best direct competitor to fuel an attack? »» Will there be other opportunities for you to sell your business. if so. Once a large company performs its analysis (assuming that it does the analysis correctly) and recognizes the unlikelihood of successfully attacking you. Well Positioned to Defend You need to set up well in advance of an attack so that you are best positioned for a positive outcome. That preparation will ultimately give you more confidence to move forward because you can do so knowing that you’ve considered every possible competitive situation. then you should determine a fair price and sell. we’ll explore steps that a growing company can take to execute against its vision and growth plan. 5: Be prepared to negotiate If you have executed the points above. Focus on what you want out of this call and its follow-up activities. In the next chapter. the more defensible your strategy will be — whether it’s an acquisition or an aggressive growth plan. Are you ready to sell. and measure progress so that you can quickly close any gaps in your vision. To do that. then you should expect an e-mail or phone call from a large company at some point. at what price and terms? To help you answer those questions. you should be in a relatively good position to pre-determine the best outcome of your conversation with a large company. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 40 . both now and in the future? And are those acquisition partners better than the one you’re considering now? With these two issues fully considered.

The focus of this chapter is how to best execute toward your vision. your longer-term vision. your vision). the faster your company will develop into a large.Chapter 4: Executing Against Execution How can you maximize the pace of your company toward achieving the series of goals you have set for it? The quicker your pace toward the goals.e. and apply them to your expansion-stage business.. ultimately. Think of this as pushing your fast-forward key for as long as you can. distill them to their essence. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 41 . so that your organization moves rapidly toward nailing a series of short-term goals and. profitable company with a defensible competitive advantage. then you should have a very clear idea of what you are trying to achieve (i. We have focused on how expansion-stage companies can gain strategic advantages and minimize large company advantages. If you take the best of the ideas.

you have found there are many possible interpersonal and intergroup issues. Every individual and workgroup in your organization needs to be given a few short-term. Get it wrong. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 42 . You will find these components in all companies that have been high-achieving for a long time. 3 Measure progress and make adjustments frequently to close gaps. You still might get lucky with a unique product or unique product market for awhile. If you have been studying the topic. and lots of advice on leadership methodology for approaching each situation. many different types of people and situations. but you will regress toward the mean over a longer period of time. Adjust your longer-term goals based on short-term results. training. we’ll discuss each of these four ingredients in greater detail. motivation. In that way. The essence of execution is fourfold: 1 Genetically engineer your organization. and get help closing the gaps on a regular basis. challenging focal points that are aligned with the company milestones and interdependencies. 4 Be flexible. having recruiting. Here we boil away all of the tactical details and present the most important skeletal components for execution. monthly. Weekly. understand gaps. reward. and quarterly retrospectives are a necessity. The world rarely turns out the way you expect. and separation systems that are 100 percent aligned with performance is key. Throughout this chapter. If you get the skeleton right. 2 Create challenging focal points. and your results will be significantly lower than they could be. You need the right people doing the right activities in each position. you should be 80 percent of your way toward optimal execution.Quite a bit has been written on execution. These skeletal ingredients are very similar to agile software development principles applied to the entire organization (although we have tried here to make the key ingredients more black and white for clarity). Every individual and workgroup needs to review progress.

Your company’s leaders should know how to focus on and perform the right activities. As for underperformers. you need to ensure that the organization is perpetually: »» Finding and assembling the right people. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 43 . however. The right people should set up the right activities and provide proper oversight. That will help you maximize your execution and do the right thing for employees who might be good people. let prospective employees know that you have a performance-based culture that rewards top performers and does not have time for underperformance. Once people are hired. You need to be sure. so you need to determine the trade-off you are willing to make. but the payoff is greater efficiency and focus. consider moving them into less critical positions or helping them find jobs outside of your company. especially if you supplement the entry-level people with experienced managers. you will end up with the wrong activities and it will be much more difficult to re-focus on the right activities. That strategy will be less effective in the short term. The latter tends to be the best long-term approach. To make sure you foster the right culture and attract the kind of talent that is motivated by the right things. A-caliber people and train them into your culture. and pushes away lower performers who aren’t motivated by the same things. This process isn’t always easy to execute. which will make defending against or countering larger competitors a much more fruitful endeavor. or bring in entry-level. Anyone you hire must fit into the culture you’re trying to establish: Either hire experienced people who fit the culture. But if they do not know exactly what they are doing. then you will form a team that generally should be doing just that. A-caliber people. with a management approach that is merit based. If you want a management system to maximize execution. set goals for all employees and reward the highest performers with things like compensation and advancement. Good people will do a good job executing what they think is right. Generally this means compensation and advancement goes to those who perform. or challenging new opportunities and leadership roles. however. that your hires know exactly what they are doing.Genetically Engineer Your Organization Genetically engineering your organization means getting the right people doing the right activities. »» Fostering a meritocracy-based management system. but aren’t living up to your expectations. unfortunately. and separation goes to those who can’t or won’t perform. »» Executing the right activities. If you supplement them with entry-level. you need to create a culture that attracts top performers who want to win. Starting with recruiting.

“Having the best product” is a horribly vague goal. you can determine the pace of improvement. a measurable goal might be to decrease the number of clicks to complete a given action. Merit-based approaches get high-performers focused on results. and set goals that need to be accomplished this month. you need to disaggregate your longer-term vision into a series of goals for each department. Managing for high performance will significantly reduce the energy focused on bad behavior. This gives everyone a focal point to think about and act on when they come into work every day. non-merit-based approaches disengage high-performers and get everyone else focused on issues other than results. Create Challenging Focal Points If you have a high-performing staff in place and a management system that motivates them to do the right things. For that to happen. »» Short-term. These not only hurt execution short-term. goals need to be: »» Specific. For example. improving product download speed or installation time. Generally. and to build excitement around achieving them. that goal can be easily benchmarked and tracked. On the other hand. You want everyone to know that you are serious about everyone meeting their goals. If you can measure your performance against your goals. sacred cows. and other non-merit-based management approaches do not creep into your organization. Finally. this week. as an immediate goal creates a sense of urgency in the business. but you will also need to manage away these behaviors (and potentially the people exhibiting them) before they breed in your organization. »» Measurable. and increasing user satisfaction are much more achievable goals. you must make sure that favorites.»» Preventing and discouraging bad behavior. as there are more places for these behaviors to fester. »» Achievable. Having the goals be short-term is highly important. This is particularly difficult as you grow into a large organization. the more they focus on the goal. the more their activities and actions will be aligned with the goal. group. and person in your company. politics. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 44 . Forget goals that are one year out. or today. and it can be very difficult to take action against. but also dramatically impede your ability to build a long-term sustainable execution advantage. Measurability goes hand-in-hand with specificity.

close on one deal that generates a specific revenue stream in a specific time period For Finance: Reduce days receivable to 50 days by the end of the quarter Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 45 . the better your people will begin to understand company interdependencies. work toward builds every other day by the end of the quarter. build a $20 million qualified pipeline by the end of the quarter For Customer Service: Pick up the phone by the second ring 95 percent of the time and don’t leave anyone on hold for more than two minutes. Here are some idea starters to help you create more specific. the more that setting these focal points will drive execution. release the next version of the product to customers by next month.Sample Goals for Every Department The more your goals are segmented to specific people or departments across your organization. create $1 million in bookings this month. resolve 95 percent of customer issues while they are on the phone and the remaining 5 percent within three business days For Business Development: Create and present at least three partnership proposals by the end of the quarter. generate at least one featured article in a trade magazine this month. And the more your people help each other to meet goals. measuable goals for every department: For Product Development: Make the next build by Friday. generate at least 30 customer referral leads per week by the end of the quarter For Sales: Establish 50 new customer contacts each day. build specific use cases into the product by a certain date For Marketing: Create 100 qualified leads a day by the end of the quarter with an average cost of $10.

This brings us to the issue of annual budgeting and planning sessions. sticking to those longer-term goals when potentially game-changing market opportunities arise or execution challenges become apparent is not a good idea. Everyone should have review sessions at least weekly.Measure Progress and Make Frequent Adjustments to Close Gaps Focal points are only words on paper until you put a management model in place that reviews progress against goals and makes adjustments as you determine gaps in progress. and reviewing and adjusting your plan each quarter (if not more often) is an absolutely critical part of the execution process. You will have plenty of time for long-term planning when you are a large public company that must implement these approaches as control systems. month. Try to create an environment where people feel like their hard work is acknowledged and constructive feedback is provided. Thinking through an entire year and sketching out a plan and budget are very important to making sure that you are rethinking the big picture at least once a year. However. the combination of individual and group accountability. Your management model should give everyone the opportunity to review their results versus their goals and also the opportunity to hear the ideas of others. while some work groups might require daily goal reviews. Review sessions should not be meant to put people on the spot or create unhealthy stress. QUARTERLY Meetings to engage in more MEETINGS: in-depth reviews and to set the next set of goals. problem solving and idea generation. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 46 . but rather to be collaborative sessions to truly understand progress and to help people nail their goals. MONTHLY REVIEWS: In-depth reviews for everyone to get a detailed understanding of what is going on and to offer ideas and assistance. Be Flexible Most expansion-stage companies are working in extremely dynamic markets and corporate environments. However. Each day. If the reviews are set up the right way. The nature of the business is such that sketching out the long term and then focusing on the short term is a necessity. and quarter will bring its own surprises. the annual planning cycle is more of a starting point than the final plan for expansion-stage companies. and resource adjustments based on results will make the sessions a critical part of your execution program and something that people look forward to.

you’ll meet a senior manager or a team that has implemented these principles and the results are truly phenomenal. The truth is that many growth-stage businesses are quite average when it comes to execution. Every once in awhile. the results of your survey will be awakening. they are not being executed well). If you are a high-performing company with high-performing teams and individuals. and/or other groups review progress and assist you in achieving your goals? Do they know this? Do they have measurable goals against this? Are they easy to measure? »» What are the rewards for nailing your goals? What happens if you don’t nail your goals? »» Do you think that everyone in the company understands their goals and is working hard to achieve them? If yours is like most companies. team members. however.Wake Up to Your Current Situation Many companies and managers think these four skeletal execution ingredients are obvious and unnecessary. The best way to do that is to ask several employees a series of key questions: »» What are the short-term goals of our company? What are the measurements? Are they easy for you to measure? Are the measures objective? »» How does your group (or team or department) contribute to those goals? What are the measurements? Are they easy for you to measure? Are the measures objective? »» How do you contribute to your group. You will probably discover a complete lack of consistency in the answers. or they think that they’re doing these things well. you will see a consistency across answers and a clear enthusiasm for the processes that have been established. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 47 . which is the key indicator that the ingredients described above are not in place (or if they are in place. thereby contributing to those goals? What is the deliverable that you are currently working on? When is it due? »» How does your supervisor. How do you determine where you stand with respect to execution right now? Start by taking a baseline audit of your current approach.

however. reviewing their progress.Disciplined Execution Execution is not rocket science. ensuring success is rewarded. people won’t have a lot of time for bad behavior. it is important. the approach outlined here takes some level of management discipline. you’ll be able to identify those issues and address them immediately. Of course. Ultimately. In general. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 48 . The last thing growth-stage businesses battling larger competitors can afford is rogue employees who undermine the company’s strategy and expose it to potentially deadly mistakes. If that’s the case in your business. you may want to make someone in your organization responsible for ensuring that processes are followed. Although the subject of interpersonal behavior has not been addressed here. making adjustments. or if they are exhibiting poor behavior. and providing feedback and reminders to every manager who is responsible for execution. if you take the steps outlined here. sitting in on conversations periodically. telling them what is expected in the short term. you’ll have to remove anyone who displays extreme unacceptable behavior. and eliminating the less successful processes and people from your organization. even if they’re high-performers. Many people lack the commitment to either implement these items or to continuously execute against them. It is all about getting the right people in place.

And we all know how that story ended. That strategy captures the essence of this eBook. Yes. spent their money more wisely and efficiently.500 for 14 consecutive years. identify your larger competitors’ weaknesses. more leverage on the trade market. the World Series. but it’s certainly not impossible. At the end of the regular season. no one gave David a shot. And once you develop some momentum. the Yankees finished a mere two games ahead of the Orioles. and younger players who were relatively unproven. and execute against your goals better — and faster — than most bigger businesses are capable of doing. the New York Yankees had a payroll that nearly topped $200 million. before his battle with Goliath began. don’t take your foot off the gas. The Yankees had more perceived talent. The Orioles had finished with a season record below . more money to spend. So. formulated a strategy for success. They were the odds-on favorite to win their division. the teams split their 18 regular-season contests and. there are numerous advantages to being a big business (not the least of which are deep pockets. The Orioles very nearly knocked the Yankees off of their perch. Goliath was very nearly upended by David. of course. and that will put you in a position to create opportunities in crowded markets that might have otherwise seemed impossible to grasp. and executed better than their seemingly better equipped rivals. how did the Orioles do it? While some of the team’s success had to do with Yankee injuries and a few other extraneous factors. and just about anything else that was up for grabs in baseball. and an established brand reputation). In the years leading up to the 2012 season. were a smaller-market team with far fewer built-in advantages. one core lesson applies: Big doesn’t always win. but they were taken to the brink by a supposedly less talented.End Note Entering the 2012 Major League Baseball season. the Orioles had drafted better players than the Yankees. on the other hand. but no large company is impenetrable. the Yankees won that series in five games. In the end. Its squad was full of undervalued older players who lacked star power. the key to winning against larger companies is to understand your own strengths. they ended up facing each other in the American League Division Series. Ultimately. rather than the other way around. Head-to-head. that will force larger competitors to respond to you. and in 2012 the team’s payroll barely crept above $80 million. Yet. Remember. exploit those weaknesses. As we’ve hopefully shown with this eBook. a wealth of top talent. less funded band of misfits. The Baltimore Orioles. fittingly. a funny thing happened in 2012. and the kind of historical cache that demanded respect. While the uber-competitive business environment that expansion-stage technology companies deal with is certainly different than the one Major League Baseball franchises face. the near upset wasn’t a fluke. We’re not suggesting that doing that will be easy. Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 49 .

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy. and Charles Burck. although it is probably a bit too heavily weighted toward large companies (rather than expansion-stage companies). Slaying Goliath: How Small Companies Can Compete Against Their Large Competitors | 50 . Bob has some great ideas that are completely aligned with getting things done in the short term. and discipline. While this book is not directly about execution. Emphasis is placed on performance. This book also has some great ideas.Appendix Further Reading on Execution There are many details beyond the outline above that will help bring you from 80 percent to 100 percent in terms of execution. focus. The Wisdom of Teams by Jon Katzenbach and Doug Smith is getting to be a classic on building high-performing teams. Ram Charan. Here are some books for further reading: The Breakthrough Strategy by Robert Schaffer. Double Your Profits in 6 Months or Less by Bob Fifer. Robert does a great job of distilling down execution into what you need to do and what you need to look out for.

a global Venture Capital firm that invests in expansion-stage technology companies. More Information Visit the OpenView Labs website for more ideas and inspiration for senior managers of technology or send a letter to Creative Commons. USA. To learn more about OpenView Labs or OpenView Venture Partners. To view a copy of this license.0 Unported License. San Francisco. contact us directly at (617) 478-7500 or info@openviewpartners. California. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3. . You are welcome to republish excerpts from this eBook. Please also share this eBook in its entirety with anyone you think would be interested. as long as you link back to OpenView for attribution. 171 Second Street. Suite 300. 94105.About OpenView Labs OpenView Labs is the strategic and operational consulting arm of OpenView Venture Partners. visit