Contrary to popular belief, start-ups are not at a disadvantage when they compete with huge firms.
Even experienced entrepreneurs sometimes cleave to broken beliefs about how the business world works. If you're not careful, it's easy to absorb the myths that small companies are at a disadvantage compared to larger ones.
Here are the most common five misconceptions about start-ups, along with the unvarnished truth:
Myth 1: No brand recognition makes selling difficult.
While it's true that a powerful brand name can make selling easier, few brand names are prominent enough to get on everyone's radar. In most cases, the difference between a new brand and an existing one is a wash. What's more, some pre-existing brands have negative reputations. At least you don't have that problem.
Truth: Your product will define your brand in your customers' eyes.
While having a track record does have some value, so does the ability to bring something new and different to the table. Successful companies (i.e. your customers) are always looking for something that will give THEM a competitive advantage. If you can do that, it's irrelevant whether you were founded yesterday or in the 1890s.
Truth: Customers care what your company can do, not when it began.
Myth 3: We'll be too small to service a big customer.
Think about this for a second. Have you ever gotten lousy service from a big company? In fact, isn't that the rule rather than the exception? As a start-up, you won't be burdened with layers of bureaucracy or various corporate toads trying to build fiefdoms. Chances are you can provide the best service, even if you're fairly small.
Truth: Customer service about your focus not about your size.
Myth 4: Our untested product will be hard to sell.
Yeah, you're probably not going to be picking up those "late adopters" who wait until everybody else is on board with a new product or concept. However, in the today's fast-paced business world, the ability to innovate is priceless, and many companies are more than open to trying something new.
Truth: If you've got a good idea, the customer will be there.
Myth 5: Huge competitors will spend us out of business.
Absolutely this can happen, but only if you fail to offer something that the larger companies can't or won't. Rather than compete head-to-head with the behemoths, find customers who aren't well-served by a big company, cookie-cutter approach. Build your business around niches that the big guys either ignore or don't understand.
GEOFFREY JAMES writes "Sales Source on Inc.com," the world's most-read sales-oriented blog. His new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, will be published in early 2014. To get weekly blog updates, sign up for his free "Insider" newsletter. @Sales_Source