Dancing Among Giants

By October 4, 2012November 4th, 2016Blog, Small Biz

By: Susan VanEpps

No matter the business focus, entrepreneurs share a common trait: their need to succeed among larger, often better-known competitors. At first glance, larger companies would seem to have the upper hand: greater marketing budgets, economies of scale and more manpower. Despite this, statistics show entrepreneurs continue to grow and be optimistic about their future: Here’s a few ways those in Loudoun are succeeding alongside big business.

Focus. Brad Sugars of Entrepreneur Magazine emphasizes the tried and true concept of finding a niche — zeroing in on aspects that set you apart from your larger competitors. If big competitors market to larger geographic areas or provide a wider scope of business, you might instead capitalize on expertise in key technical skills, unique service lines or direct market knowledge. Or, if a big competitor only handles major accounts, focus on smaller ones. If you have the network to support it, provide end-to-end project management. Brigitta S. Toruño, founder of Lansdowne-based Uno Translations and Communications, says her company’s unique cultural sensitivities are an example of this focused expertise.

“In directly translating a piece from one language to another, many of the larger firms overlook a vital point – cultural understanding,” says Toruño. “In order to really communicate in another language, you have to understand the cultural differences in that language – only then can you really get your message across. This approach gives us a strong edge over the large translation companies.”

Flexibility. Moving quickly is one area where entrepreneurs can gain the advantage. Entrepreneurs who can respond to issues faster, change directions more nimbly, take risks more freely and provide flexibility in offerings — like on-demand services and no long-term contracts — can gain a reputation as a go-to company when time and money are issues (which they always are). Ashburn-based Market Alignment may be one of over 4,000 marketing agencies in the D.C. area, but their adaptability to client economics and schedules has helped them succeed.

“In a time when corporate marketing departments and budgets have been slashed, we compete against the larger agencies in the services we offer and the way in which we offer them,” says owner Aimee Taylor. “Our work handles the marketing strategy and tactics from beginning to end, whereas the larger agencies are often specialized in just one area of marketing, and require hefty retainers.

In addition, by offering a wide variety of services without a long-term commitment, Market Alignment has in effect become an on-demand marketing department for organizations. Companies can use our services as and when they need them, and when they have budget.”

Passion. Author Will Corrente at Entrepreneur Week says successful business is based on the passion of the entrepreneur. Sometimes overlooked, it’s a key advantage for business leaders whose livelihood depends on their interest in their work. Passion matters because it reflects in all aspects of a business, from the promotion to the creativity of the work product to the quality control, and that shows through to clients. Corrente adds that passion also helps convey energy and dedication to your employees, partners and investors. In Loudoun, that passion can be seen at Uno Translations.

“I would first advise [entrepreneurs] to find something that they love doing. For me, that was everything language and culture related,” summarizes Turoño, who says that translation is not only crucial to business success, but is a humanitarian service. “I was born into being a lifetime interpreter and translator – and there’s nothing I would rather be doing. I am working in my passion as I run my company.”