How Small Businesses Are Killing Large Companies

Then a strong fighter came out from the armies of the Philistines. His name was Goliath, from Gath. He was almost twice as tall as most men. He had a head covering of brass, and wore brass battle-clothes that weighed as much as 5,000 silver pieces. He wore brass leg-coverings, and had a brass spear on his shoulders. The long part of his spear was like a cross-piece used on a cloth-maker. The iron head of his spear weighed as much as 600 pieces of silver. A man walked before him to carry his shield. Goliath stood and called out to the army of Israel, saying, “Why have you come out dressed for battle? Am I not the Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. (1 Samuel 17, 1–9)

This painting by Caravaggio depicts David (the shepherd boy between 16–19 years old) Removing the head of Goliath… a 9 foot tall warrior. Whether you believe the story of David and Goliath is true or mythology, its story is well known as it’s used for an allegory for overcoming every kind of insurmountable adversity.

If you read Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” Then you know that in his book, Mr. Gladwell made sure to purge every bit of magic and wonder out of the story as he described as David’s advantages… Malcolm throughout that book gave evidence of advantages each of the “underdogs” in each of his examples, all the way to the story of David and Goliath… Yet as great and as thorough as the stories are that Malcolm Gladwell writes, He seemed to write the book more of a pep talk than a strategy…

Another book, this one written by General Stanley McCrystal. “Team of Teams” finishes where Malcolm Gladwell leaves off… McCrystal, along with his co-authors, describe a phenomenon that is unique to our time… Where Gladwell showed us anecdotal examples, McCrystal shows a pattern in the small beating the large… McCrystal being a military General of course gives example in war, namely with “Al Qaeda” and “Isis” as examples of underfunded, unorganized, underdeveloped, and untrained terrorists groups that have been making huge gains if not winning in many battles they take on despite the fact that they are fighting a much larger more organized, endlessly funded army like the U.S. In Team of Teams, McCrystal is quick to make the comparison of Small Business and its moves though not intentional but effective which are dethroning large established companies…

Why is this happening?… How is this being accomplished?

When you look at what Al Qaeda purposed to do… Their intent was to bleed America of resources… attacking areas of life that robed people of their security and caused infrastructures to have to invest into areas because it could not keep up with the imagination of the single lone terrorist. On 9/11 using planes, Al Qaeda changed the transportation world… An army without a home base… without a country… no uniforms… no plan that is talked about throughout their organization… Except one… “disrupt with terror”… A plan simple enough that anyone in their organization could accomplish it… The Giant U.S. is not fighting an army… its fighting individuals with a common goal.

Though the comparison is dark… How is this not different from the small but substantial effects small business and the passions of their founders are having on the slow to move, slow to react larger corporations?

Today we see a world where American tradition of malls are slowly dying. In “Why The Mall Will Kill Your Brand” I detail this a bit more… Symbiotic stores within them are also dying… Yet we see more than ever so many small brands and small companies sprouting up everywhere…

Large brands are reacting by trying to shorten development cycles so they can be quicker to market… The question is quicker at what? Its not as if these stores are bringing “newness”… Many if not all shop around the world and bring back all the ideas they like to “inspire” their own collections and seasonal directions… If they also carry brand names as many do… Much of the time the brands they carry which have become so dependent on their business that they build around these slow giants are behind them in ideas as most of those brands have relied on a dwindling yet loyal customer base to keep them afloat…(Which also is fading as they are being associated with this “mall type brand”…)

The ‘one-two punch’ is big-box business selling an inauthentic experience that is nothing more than a merchandised copy of ideas and concepts seen everywhere else…

Look at your Instagram…or any blog; most people into fashion follow hundreds of brands and or people… Those brands (Including the people) compete for authenticity and give you a look into their world and what they are doing, wearing, and are interested in as they themselves compete for being on “whats next”. That celebrity competition, gives a view of a world that most would not or could not live…but want to. Worse (for large slow to move businesses) it elevates the ideal of what people want…increasing their tastes for finer things than copies… That view, shows the large companies as complacent and reactionary…thereby slowly killing the sales…

If I were reading this, I’d be asking, “Well — then why is fast fashion not working anymore?” However the answer is “marketing”… Marketing, associations, P.R., newness… All of the above… Though Forever 21 and H&M might draw you in with price… they quickly loose you with their cheep imitations of last months ideas.

One thing hasn’t changed. People find there identity in clothing… The one thing that has is that large business so invested into volume ideas and mass movement of ‘sameness’ are finding that to compete they need to actually design or pull back from the old strategies and antiquated concepts of volume ideas…

We are in the age of the visionaries… Companies that have vision… A perspective… A guiding principle based in focusing on influencing the market with product, those brands will win in the next cycle of retail… (However everything I described is only found in small business right now)

There is no single small business that can take down a large corporate giant… but collectively, we are in a retail environment that has 1000’s of small businesses doing just that… all with a common goal to be greater… all lead by hands on singular vision…

How do you kill a giant? Same way you kill anything…cut off whats feeding it…

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