3 Ways To Fight The Small Business Inferiority Complex


Rohit Bhargava By: Rohit Bhargava

Let’s not pretend you don’t know what this post is going to be about. Anyone who has worked in or run a small business has felt the ugly sting of an inferiority complex to their larger rivals at some point. Sure, having your own business is liberating and rewarding and life changing. But sometimes it would be nice to get the corporate card back and walk into a new business opportunity knowing without a doubt that everyone in the room had already heard of your company.

Of course, that’s an overly rosy picture of what it is like to work for a large company – but you get the picture. The thing is, when it comes to this inferiority complex that many small business owners and employees might feel, it typically only comes down to three things: perceived lack of size, perceived lack of experience, and perceived lack of resources. The irony of each of these is that what is holding you back from confidence in your own business in each area is probably the same thing that is making that issue a barrier for your business in the first place.

The good news about that is that if you can address this question for your potential customers, you can likely solve it for yourself and your staff as well. Let’s tackle each of them one by one:

How To Fight Perceived Lack Of Size

When it comes to fighting this perceived lack of size, there are only really two strategies you can employ:

  1. Pretend to be bigger than you are. This is not about lying. The default assumption for most customers, however, is that you business is composed of more than just yourself … so a big part of this is to avoid doing anything to change that assumption. Of course, you can also bring on shorter term partners or advisors who are not really “on staff” but do enough to be part of your business.
  2. Make size the enemy. The second and often better strategy is to make size the very reason why a customer might choose to work with you instead. You can offer more personalized attention, you are not faceless, you are locally located, and your flatter structure means they get more high quality service.

How To Fight Perceived Lack Of Experience

When a customer perceives that your small business may lack experience, they are typically focused on the expertise of your staff.

If you have only been in business for a short time, the perception of your experience will often come from the date of your founding … as if no one in your business was doing anything relevant before that date. The reality, of course, is that you and your staff were likely already working in whatever field your business happens to be in for many years before you started your business … so if you can demonstrate that you can get past this perception.

How To Fight Perceived Lack Of Resources

When it comes to experience in doing the type of work a customer requires, sometimes a customer’s objection will come down to one of scale of resources. “Sure you have delivered 100 widgets for your smaller customers, but we need 1000 widgets – can you really handle that volume?” This is a harder objection to address, but you need to show either through increased staff or production that even though you haven’t done a larger volume order yet … you are prepared to handle it.

Check out the Influential Marketing Blog for more articles by Rohit Bhargava

About The Author

Rohit Bhargava is the Vice President for Interactive Marketing with Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

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