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6 Advantages David has Over Goliath In Business

You may not feel this way when you lose a deal to a huge company, or when you look at your checking account and see there is $3.05 balance, but there are many advantages to playing the role of David, in the age old story of David versus Goliath. When you're David, you may feel as though you need to add substance to your structure and add a level to your legitimacy, especially when your wife brings your two year old into your home office so you can change a poopy diaper, but let me assure you, being the little guy (I am talking about your business, not your kid) has some sharp advantages.

Personally, I like to be considered David, in the business battle of David versus Goliath. I have been very fortunate to knock down Goliath more times than he has knocked me down. Even “Mr. Nice Guy” likes to win the time tested battle between little and big. When you are David, the competition never expects much out of you. Because you are so small, you rarely if ever, are perceived as a threat. So he (Goliath) never sees me coming; that’s Goliath’s first problem.

When you are David, you may feel as though you need to add substance to your structure and add a level to your legitimacy, especially when your wife brings your two year old into your home office so you can change a poopy diaper...

Here are the six advantages to being David:

1. Change comes easier when you are David. When you are David, your ability to institute change will quickly allow you to market differently, revise business plans and work towards collecting more customers. In today’s business climate, trends seemingly change overnight. The companies that can capitalize on changing fast will rise to the top of the ladder. And while it’s great to have the financial backing and stability Goliath has, he has difficulty making decisions without meetings, conference calls and Board involvement. I don’t know about you, but my philosophy has always been that the best conference call was the one never made. Bottom line, Goliath has a challenge with change, while David should use it as a springboard to success.

2. David is faster. Try making a decision when you are Goliath. Even if you see a great market trend that you want to take advantage of Goliath has a tough time turning on a dime. David is nimble and swift, can resolve problems faster and will stay up late, work long hours and drive more miles to get things done for you. David can hand carry a check request through accounting, quickly confirm your product shipped off the loading dock and respond to a call, text message or email without dealing with red tape. When Goliath starts to empower his people to make decisions and trusts his staff to get the job done right, he will be able to compete with David. In the meantime, he’s usually caught flat footed and is as slow as molasses.

Goliath values the masses while David values the individual.

3. David is more personal with customers. I can vividly remember calling my credit card company to dispute a duplicate charge. When I was finally able to connect with a human being, I was asked no less than three times my credit card number and security password. Once I established with Goliath that I was actually me they could not seem to pronounce my name properly. For some unknown reason they kept referring to me as Dough (rhymes with “no”). I was not feeling like a frozen pizza that day so I was not humored that Goliath couldn’t get it right. If David messes my name up, he apologizes, feels bad and corrects himself. Rarely if ever do I feel like a number when dealing with David.

4. Connecting with staff when you are Goliath is challenging. Walk into 99% of the Goliath organizations in the world and you will find poisonous politics, watercooler whisperings and a cultures of caution. It’s so incredibly hard to get everyone on the same page to create the “all for one and one for all mentality.” The cause of this is not just size alone. Companies like Zappos, Wegmans, Google and eBay (all Goliaths) have excelled at creating this David feeling within a Goliath organization in part, because they have upper management buy-in. When management takes time to remember what it was like to be a staffer in the trenches, Goliath becomes much more relatable to everyone within the organization.

Sure, Goliath tells you he cares, as you are prompted through the automated phone system, but don’t believe him, it’s just an illusion.

5. Sure, Goliath tells you he cares, as you are prompted through his automated phone system, but don't believe him. Call your local utility company, or your “big box” insurance carrier and tell me they care. Sure, they tell you they care, as you are prompted through the automated phone system, but don’t believe them, it’s just an illusion. If you do get to finally speak with someone, work hard at getting them to put down their script long enough to actually have a conversation with you. Goliath values the masses while David values the individual. This point in particular challenges me because I not exactly sure why it needs to be this way. I have a friend who created a philosophy that teaches “people over products.” Once Goliath recognizes the not-so-hidden secret of those three words, David will need to watch out. In the meantime money is dumped into product development, engineering and marketing metrics to try and fabricate adding value to client relationships.

6. Speaking of metrics, big company, big data, no feelings. Little company, little data, but big on emotion. What’s the ROI on crying happy tears? Goliath is way too clumsy to hear or see the little customer. He relies upon big data, metrics by the millions, profit and loss statements and balance sheets. David relies upon emotion, feelings and gut. If Goliath understands the individual customer’s needs and works hard at creating an incredible customer experience, he will be able to challenge David at his own game. But it’s so rare that Goliath actually takes time to care about the single unit statistics like handshakes, smiles and hugs.

What’s the ROI on crying happy tears? Goliath is way too clumsy to hear or see the little customer the way David does.

As for me, since I landed my first job at the age of 13 in 1977 I’ve acted like David. Even when I worked for Goliath time and time again until the early 1990s I acted like David. I think most people with an entrepreneurial spirit relate more to David than Goliath. The trick is, keeping that system in place when, if ever, you grow beyond your small business. I like the intimacy provided by being the little guy. Watch out Goliath, I may be little, but my slingshot carries a powerful punch.



When Big Business Fails the Little Guy



When I started writing my blog I made a promise to myself and to you, that I would work hard at making sure the same passion I put into my business, would be put into my writing. Hopefully my heart and my passion has been reflected properly in the words I have put down. And there is nothing I am more passionate about in business than exemplary service. Whenever I see an opportunity to catch someone doing something right, I do my best to provide praise, positive feedback and a good old “attaboy.”

Hopefully, I will get through to one person that can make a change, make a difference and make a plan.

Over the last 14 months, I have written about 70 blogs and approximately 90,000 words. If you include my book, which is about 40,000 words and my guest blogs of about 25,000 words, I would approximate that I have written over 150,000 words in about 60 weeks. The vast majority of the words that have spilled out of my brain and onto your computer screen, tablet and smartphone have been positive. By design, I like to make people happy. So when there comes a time for me to air something out and complain, please know that I am doing so to make a point and not for the sake of just hearing myself rant. Hopefully, I will get through to one person that can make a change, make a difference and make a plan.

Big Business, you know who you are, you’ve really let us down. But, you haven’t just let me down, I could handle that. Instead, you are letting down a whole bunch of people. As I share my Big Business experience with others, they are also telling me their stories as well. I think you owe us all an apology for being so challenging to deal with, so taxing on our patience and for creating so much stress in our lives. We know there is so little that we can actually do about it and we know that you will be very slow to change your ways, but we thought it would be a good idea for us to write an apology letter that expresses how we think you feel. Since I know you will never write a letter of sincere apology, I thought it would be appropriate for me to write an apology letter with a Big Business spin. Here goes:

Dear Mr. Little Customer, 

We want to care but:

Our systems are too complicated and we really are not sure how they work exactly. We actually don’t know what the other departments in our big company actually do, so we will go ahead and transfer you to them.

We don't understand our technology, and although it may sound like we are taking notes when we discuss things with you on the phone, we actually are just going to hit delete when we hang up with you.

Our departments don't communicate with each other and even if we knew what their procedures were, when we transfer you to them, you will accidentally get disconnected. If you do happen to get through to them, they will tell you that you have reached their department in error. They will try to transfer you back.

Our employees can't make decisions. We will escalate your issue to the guy in the cubicle next to us, but he will just ask you to repeat everything you just said so he can delete the notes too before he takes no action.

We prefer not talking directly to you, so we are going to try and get you caught in our automated phone system. Please listen carefully, our menu options have all changed. Next time you call back, they will change again. But first, we will make you wait on hold 30 minutes with badly distorted music playing in your ear.

Those are just our policies. Sorry, we realize that the policies we have in place don’t make sense to you today, but you will thank us next time you call, because they will not make sense then either. Hey, we are consistent.

Please let me stick to my script. Please do not ask me to be human, have any empathy or show compassion. It’s troubling for us to stay on script if you don’t play by our rules. Before you call next time, we will send you the customer script so we can follow your part as well.

We appreciate you waiting on hold for 30 minutes. It gives our people a chance to take a break. It’s hard listening to complaints all day and they need a break to complain about you.

Pardon all the background noise and the sound of my breathing on the headset. We're really packed into these cubicles. You do have another option though. If you prefer you can get online and chat with us there. Our answers will make no sense to you but at least you won’t hear us breathing.

We are going to ask you if we resolved your issue and ask you to take a survey after we are done, even though we never plan on using your answers to make improvements.

We know our fees are high and are services are substandard. But we know our competition is just like that too. 

Sorry. Not sorry.

~Big Business

PS - We know we have inconvenienced you many times over the last several decades, since becoming so big. As a sign of our sincerest apologies, we are raising our fees effective immediately. Thanks for the business and have a nice day.

As a sign of our sincerest apologies, we are raising our fees effective immediately.

One day, things will be better. Meanwhile, the best I can do is laugh about it, write about it and hope that in the not too distant future, something will change. Do you have a Big Business horror story? If so, we need to band together for a giant group hug or something. In the meantime, accept the letter above as an apology for a job poorly done by Big Business.

Doug Sandler, helps organizations build better relationships with their customers. He strongly believes that Big Business (and little business) need to add the human element back into business. Doug’s book, Nice Guys Finish First, is available on Amazon.com. He is available for keynotes and workshops for your organization.