How to Beat Richer Competitors (& Stop Crying)

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Imagine the multi-billion dollar behometh known as Google going after your customers. Think you can compete? Most would say no. Our answer: just take a look at Technorati:

Kicking a behemoth's butt doesn't take a million.

Technorati started in 2002: It took two weeks from paper-to-launch -- relatively mega-cheap labor. Three years later, the multi-billion dollar corporation goes after its customers. Yet, it doesn't cause a dent in Technorati's explosive growth. Technorati built a loyal following among key bloggers, and created a vibrant community among the blogging generation. That creativity sustained the company against deeper threats. (And no it wasn't first-mover's advantage. Technorati came on the scene after other startups had started something similar.)

"Just admit it: You suck."

If people are crying over guys with deeper pockets knocking on their doors (e.g. just google the "Wal-mart sucks" topics), it's not that they're losing because they have less money. They're losing because they suck. That is, they can't find innovative solutions to overcome their lack of funds. They lack ingenuity. If the bootstrapping Japanese clobbered the rich Americans in the 80s with minimal funding, you -- as the cheesiest motivational tip goes -- can do it too. The one sweet tip:

Stretch that dollar like a mother-sucker that it is.

Companies that suck think like nerdy-timid-Bobby-boy-in-need-of-a-date before a prom, but thinks "he's not good enough." Companies that win think like confident-bad-looking-Charles: "Let's ask out the hottest girl in town." When you're small, have ambitions of a million-dollar company. When you're a million-dollar corporation, have ambitions of a billion-dollar corporation.

Companies that falter use their resources apathetically.

There's no spunk. No creativity. Just junk. Says LBS's Garry Hamel:
Western companies focus on trimming their ambitions to match resources and, as a result, search only for advantages they can sustain. By contrast, Japanese corporations leverage resources by accelerating the pace of organizational learning and try to attain seemingly impossible goals. These firms foster the desire to succeed among their employees and maintain it by spreading the vision of global leadership. This is how Canon sought to "beat Xerox" and Komatsu set out to "encircle Caterpillar."
Take a look at every freakin-idea-that's-existed-in the history of mankind and his mama: All ideas funded by major powerhouses have been disrupted by lower-cost competitors.

Starbucks had no bling.

When Starbucks started, it didn't need Super Bowl commercials. It didn't need loyalty programs. It didn't need to spend millions building its billion-dollar empire it is today. Instead, they took a different route: igniting employee loyalty through health benefits, a free fresh pound of coffee per week, sweet stock options for all, and majorly-ambitious-ethical-standards with its suppliers. "Using the best of our resources" sparked Starbucks.

It doesn't take a million to build something kick-ass.

It takes more than daddy's pocketbooks to build a great, sustainable business. It takes creativity. Ingenuity. A template for ya:

No excuses.


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Posted on July 21

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