Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council
With so many resources and tools and so much talent available, it's never been easier for an aspiring entrepreneur to launch a tech company. On the flip side, the industry is more competitive than ever, and it's especially difficult for new startups to stake their claims in the shadows of tech giants like Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
Although it can often feel like a David and Goliath situation, there are ways for smaller tech companies to establish themselves and compete with the big guns. Our Forbes Coaches Council experts know a few things about how to stand out in the professional world. Here's how they recommend positioning your small tech business against the behemoths.
1. Show Off Your Personality
Smaller tech companies can showcase their value, people, solutions and willingness to partner better right from the start of the request for proposal stage. It all comes down to who's going to be fun to work with and who will put the time and care into a solution. Technical skills may be equal across companies, but being an enjoyable partner who goes above and beyond creates a win-win for both a company and their client. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason
2. Gather And Publicize Positive End-User Feedback
Call it what you like — word-of-mouth or organic branding — but the gist will remain the same: End-user satisfaction that's publicized is the answer. There's really no better way to beat a larger company and even the playing fields. Get your happy user to say so and say it publicly online. - Kamyar Shah, World Consulting Group
3. Make Yourself Part Of The Tech Giants' Success
One powerful way smaller tech companies can gain a competitive edge over tech giants is to become an integral part of the tech giants' success. As large companies struggle to find ways to become agile, more of them are turning to smaller companies that rapidly bring those capabilities to the forefront. Collaboration makes small and large tech companies stronger together. - Lillian Gregory, The Institute for Human and Leadership Excellence
4. Stay Fast And Focused
Being smaller allows up-and-coming tech companies the benefits of speed and focus. Get laser-focused on what you do best, and quite simply, do that. Smart decisions can be made faster without the cacophony of voices and competition for resources experienced in larger organizations. Use your size to focus on creating efficiencies that will allow for scale in tandem with superior development. - Tonya Echols, Thrive Coaching Solutions
5. Create A Top-Notch Customer Experience
Smaller companies can bring attention to detail and real customer care that tech giants can't. In the age of the customer, your reputation is your most powerful weapon. Great customer experience will win over a similar product most of the time, so give employees latitude to create this experience and go above and beyond when needed. - Judd Borakove, Red Monkey Consulting
6. Be Flexible In All Things
Whether with customers or internal staff, smaller tech companies can be more flexible. With customers, smaller tech companies can position their ability to individualize products and services and can listen carefully. For staff members, there are multiple roles that they can and must contribute in; an engineer might also need to be able to sell and service customers. - Cindy Stack, Whole-Life Leader
7. Build A Great Company Culture
Smaller, more entrepreneurial tech companies win talent away from the giants in the simplest way: Their culture generally allows for authorship by those who work in it every day — much more so than at larger firms. A strong culture often wins the game of recruiting, engagement and, in the end, execution because everyone plays on a closer-knit team. - John Hittler, Evoking Genius
8. Keep Innovating And Finding Market Gaps To Fill
Innovation is the key to positioning. Smaller companies can position themselves against tech giants by identifying consumer needs that are gaps in the market. The larger the company, the more difficult it can be to take advantage of opportunities quickly for a variety of reasons, including bureaucracy. Complexity is expensive, so keep it simple. - India Gary-Martin, Leadership For Life
9. Define Your Specialty
Behemoths like Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle and Cisco are hard to out-position. One way to stand out is to specialize. Massive firms lose by spreading out across every single business vertical. If you want to win, pick a vertical, and focus on being the best option for that industry. Deep specialization requires expertise. Expertise commands not only respect but also premium pricing. - Warren Zenna, Zenna Consulting Group
10. Offer Talent The Opportunity To Be Technology Influencers
In the battle for talent, smaller firms can readily sell technologists on the opportunity to be an integral part of the product development cycle. Entrepreneurial and creative talent have a better opportunity to influence product design when they're one of 20 engineers rather than one of 20,000. - Scott Singer, Insider Career Strategies
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