David’s victory over Goliath, the biblical story of how a young shepherd boy defeated a fully armed giant warrior with no more than a sling and a stone, holds important lessons for South African entrepreneurs according to Dov Girnun, Founder and CEO of Merchant Capital.
But is it possible that David’s victory is not as unusual as we’ve been led to believe? Davids win all the time notes Girnun.
Look at the Miami Open last month, where Daria Gavrilova– an underdog – confronted and triumphed over Maria Sharapova, ranked world No.2 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), in the first match of the tournament.
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With this victory, No. 97, Gavrilova knocked Sharapova out of her quest for her first Miami Open title. Tennis, and less recently David and Goliath, clearly has a few things to teach SME owners when it comes to overcoming the odds against larger rivals.
1. Be agile
SMEs can defeat large competitors by outmanoeuvring, out-imagining, and outperforming them. Large, lumbering companies are seldom prepared to confront nimble and fast-moving adversaries. They tend to be crystal-clear about what they are and are not, and what they want to achieve. They are rigid and consistent.
2. Use leverage
Leverage is the ability to do more with less; to ask yourself: ‘How can I position my business to compete favourably with fewer resources?’ David knew that Goliath was taller and stronger, so he asked: ‘How can I defeat Goliath without engaging him in hand-to-hand combat?’ That answer came in the form of leverage: His sling.
3. Be brave
Entrepreneurs are perfectly positioned to work as challengers to their bigger, more established competitors, because they take more risks, question the status quo and remain more alert.
SMEs are also able to operate in smaller niches; to tailor everything from product features and distribution to advertising to a specific market.
4. Have faith
Faith is the ability to act despite tremendous doubt. As an entrepreneur, you must never see competitors as infallible. You must see a chance to out-perform them.
To illustrate, if you’d had the opportunity to ask Daria Gavrilova or even young David whether he believed that he could beat his rival, each would’ve offered you a confident Yes (regardless of tremendous doubt). Otherwise, why compete at all?
5. Have focus
Giant companies suffer when they lose touch with the essence of their business: the customer. Remember that the value of one customer is always greater for an SME than a large corporation. Say (and demonstrate), ‘Your business is important to me.’
“Research shows that the world’s most competitive nations are those with the most entrepreneurial activity, making SMEs the greatest job creators in emerging economies,” says Girnun.
“Entrepreneurs need to know their worth and stay true to themselves and their businesses, once they do, success is in their hands.”