By focusing on your customer, and not your big time competitors, your small start-up has the opportunity to address the market with creative and relevant products.

In this series we have examined some of the powerful advantages of being small, undercapitalized and able to turn on a dime.

These days, with lawyers running the big corporations either in fact or in fear, more and more truly game changing concepts are coming from outsiders like you.

Here, then, are a few more advantages of being a small start-up that can help you achieve your goals:

11. Being an Outsider. When you’re new and small, you naturally approach challenges with “common sense” and the experience you have gleaned from other industries and personal experiences. Not necessarily so with the big established companies. They find security in sticking to the straight and narrow. They may not even realize that they are doing things because, well, that’s how it’s always been done. In their sometimes misguided desire for job security, they don’t want to “shake the boat” and can end up doing what they have always done instead of innovating. No one has yet proven to them with financial success that it can be done differently. Perhaps the outsider will!

12. Producing Multifaceted Concepts. Being undercapitalized forces you to make every cent count and every idea solve more than one problem. Like the Swiss army knife with its many tools for many uses, your branding concepts have to embrace and satisfy a variety of needs. You simply can‘t afford to rely on conventional and expensive solutions.  For instance, you have to build marketing into the brand. You have to build publicity and customer service into the culture. You have to enhance distribution with packaging design. The big boy, because of his size, divisions of labor, and convoluted communication has to simplify everything, even brand concepts. “Just tell me the one thing that this does” is the common query.  They know that even a simple message can get lost in translation in their massive structures. So they attempt to “‘dumb” everything down.  This results in an advantage for the little guy who produces products or services that are thoughtful, sensitive, and relevant on a variety of levels important to the consumer.  It’s more than just the big blade on the Swiss army knife.

13. Flying Under the Radar. The big boys focus on their big boy competition. They generally don’t even see your small start-up’s product for years. This is usually because they expect their market share to be taken by their big competition. They don’t expect game changers who cut the pie in a different and more popular way. Your tiny company will take what ever sales it can. It can’t afford to be choosy. Many of your first buyers may be little guys themselves, also off the radar, over seas, or not registering sales to the big reporting companies.  Your small start-up may not  go national for years. You may be forced, for reasons of channel distribution or cash flow management, to start small and sell only in a local territory you can control. This advantage allows your small start-up to test the waters, make adjustments and get sea worthy before you take on the world.

Next time we will examine why having the freedom to establishing a new positive culture, making overall company preservation job one, and the trend to acquiring new ideas, gives you a competitive edge. With all the challenges your small start-up faces, you still hold some impressive cards.  If  you play them right, you can have the winning hand!

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Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact