January 29, 2023

Brad Marolf

Business & Finance Wonders

16 Strategies To Set Your Small Business Apart From Larger Competitors

Whenever a new small business emerges, they have a big challenge competing against larger corporations that overtake the market. It can be hard for a new business to get its bearings and find ways to differentiate itself. However, with some creativity and strategy, there are ways to set themselves apart from larger corporations.

To that end, a panel of Forbes Business Council members each share one thing new small business owners can do to set their businesses apart from all the rest. Follow their advice to stand out from your bigger competitors.

1. Communicate Your Value Proposition

Small business owners need to clearly communicate their value proposition. What is it that they offer to a client that a larger competitor does not? Why would a client choose them over someone more established? Without a clear differentiator, the smaller business will almost always lose out. – Theodora Jean, Coldwater Communications

2. Personalize Your Services

A smaller business has the ability to be more customer-centric than a larger business. Take the time to understand each customer’s requirements and craft—through a consultative approach—to find a flexible solution that caters to their needs. Small businesses can be dynamic and efficient while providing personalized services to customers. Personal responsiveness is a critical competitive differentiator. – Joe Faruqui, A.S.A.P Semiconductor


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3. Focus On Workplace Culture

Articulating the purpose, vision, mission and core values that guide the organization will establish appeal and credibility in the eyes of prospective customers and employees. The caveat to realizing this competitive edge remains rooted in how a startup actively practices the culture they claim. Your workplace culture can be a competitive edge—and it starts with you! – Dr. Donte Vaughn, CultureWorx

4. Fill A Need In The Market

Consistently delivering the best service by understanding the market—and what’s missing—and adding value in an extraordinary way will establish your business reputation as top tier. – Kiara Streater, Extraordinary Headhunters LLC

5. Authentically Appeal To A Wide Range Of Clientele

Make sure you’re appealing to the widest diversity of clientele and doing it authentically. Big businesses may have more money to spend on things like diversity and inclusion, but it’s often performative. As a small business owner, you have the ability to put inclusion front and center—and mean it. That will attract customers and clients who have traditionally not seen themselves represented with big businesses. – Michael Bach, CCDI Consulting

6. Provide Meaningful And Valuable Content

Create meaningful content about what you do in a way that offers value to your clients. This could be a podcast, vlog or article that allows you to build your credibility, authority and trust in your industry. Provide exceptional customer service to your current clients. I landed my first Fortune 500 client simply by a previous customer raving about my services in a Facebook group! – Ginni Saraswati, Ginni Media

7. Stick To Your Principles And Don’t Compete

Large corporations were once small; if they had looked at the giants back then, they would not be where they are now. For example, Netflix had to go up against Blockbuster, a giant in the industry. If you stick to your plan and provide remarkable quality, you will always make forward progress. Remember that some people prefer local coffee over Starbucks. – Jean Paul De Silva Clauwaert, Web Content Development

8. Focus On Your Expertise And Be Agile

As a serial entrepreneur who has bootstrapped my ventures, I’ve learned that small business owners can beat larger firms by focusing on how their expertise, experience, drive and agility enable them to do things larger companies can’t do. Engage in a truly ADAP conversation, meaning it’s audience-driven (focusing on what really matters to the prospect) with authentic presentation (detailing why you can do something uniquely effective). – Jerry Cahn, Age Brilliantly

9. Lean Into Being A Small Business

Larger corporate competitors are often bogged down in bureaucracy, so be nimble by offering flexible solutions with better pricing. Outsource tough processes, such as RFP development or legal advice, to present yourself professionally against those larger competitors with internal teams. Taken together, you will win every time! – Maurice Harary, The Bid Lab

10. Start Local To Establish A Reputation

Don’t be afraid to start slow and local to build your reputation and community. Offer exceptional customer service and implement a money-back guarantee to show that you stand by your product. If your customer base trusts your company, they will begin to market your product for you. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

11. Offer Creative Customer Support

Small business owners can set themselves apart by offering customer service that is unlike anything customers have experienced before. This can be as simple as being more responsive than larger businesses or as innovative as offering a customer service concierge. To win an edge over the competition, it is important to be creative with customer service and give customers a reason to come back. – Matthew Ramirez, Rephrasely

12. Articulate How Your Offer Are Special And Valuable

Customers and clients want to feel valued; often, smaller businesses are better positioned to fulfill that need. Be clear as to how your small business can actually deliver. For example, showcase how your business is more nimble and more in tune with customers and clients. – Stephanie Schwartz, Little Bean Group

13. Demonstrate How You Positively Impact Customers

Customer value does not come from how big you are, but rather from how well you can show how you positively impact customers’ lives. That’s done through your messaging, value proposition, how your people show up every day and how well you are able to make your mission and vision come to life through your people’s daily actions. – Mike Esterday, Integrity Solutions

14. Create Content And Events That Deliver Outsized Value

You don’t have to be big to look big. You can punch above your weight class by creating content and events that deliver outsized value relative to your scale. Establish yourself as the leading expert in your field by putting together industry conferences, publishing ebooks, running educational events or bestowing awards in your vertical. – Esther Kestenbaum Prozan, Flowspace, Inc.

15. Read The Reviews Of Your Competition

Reviews provide insight into how you can be better and fill the gap. For example, much of our competition had poor reviews around customer support, so we made a pledge to have the best customer service in the market. – Tim Yelchaninov, True Finance

16. Always Be Willing To Make Connections

As a business owner, your network can be your greatest strength. I have found it essential to the growth of my business to keep networking and meeting new people. You never know what meeting one person will lead to. – Hani Anis, Kahani Digital Marketing