Let’s consider one of the most famous mano a mano fights of all time. Not Ali vs. Frazier. Not even Vinny Jones vs. Paul Gascoigne. We need to go a little bit further back – to what was billed as the most lopsided contest of them all: David vs. Goliath.
You all know the story – and you all know the result.
The question is, what can David and his slingshot teach you about business in North Yorkshire? Or anywhere else come to that…
According to a new book by Malcolm Gladwell (of Outliers fame) the result of David vs. Goliath was a forgone conclusion. David was a certainty – quick, nimble, deadly accurate with his slingshot: Goliath never stood a chance. It was, according to Gladwell, the equivalent of someone with a sword coming up against someone with a Colt 45.
Where’s the business lesson? Right there. I spend a good deal of my time convincing Davids (TAB members) that they can compete – and win – against the Goliaths in their industry. And with every day that passes I become more convinced that not only can they win, they should win. Why? They’re more agile, they think better, they give better value and better service: above all, they care.
I would always choose a smaller, local supplier over one of the national household names. So why do I spend so much time convincing TAB members to go for it? Persuading them that they can win the contract?
The main reason is confidence – or lack of it. People simply don’t believe that they can beat the giants of whatever industry they’re in. ‘Why will they deal with a small company in a village outside York when they can deal with one of the industry leaders firmly based in the centre of London?’
I repeat: because you’re quicker, sharper, think more clearly, give outstanding service and you care. I would put that last point much more strongly, but this is a family blog.
David won because he saw the situation more clearly. He didn’t see the giant Goliath. He saw someone who was slow. Who could be attacked from distance. As Malcolm Gladwell points out, Goliath’s only hope of winning was to get his hands on David – and that was never going to happen.
David didn’t see a sword fight either. Sure, it had always been a sword fight in the past: but it didn’t have to be a sword fight in the future. If you were up against Goliath, a sling was just fine. In fact, a sling – accurate over a hundred yards – was far better than a sword.
And once David had seen the situation clearly, he was confident he could win. That’s how it is with my TAB members: very often it isn’t about their ability or the product they deliver, it’s about their confidence and their ability to see what really matters.
So if you find yourself cast as David against Goliath, what you should you do? I’ll look at exactly how to plan your campaign in a future blog, but for now…
• Go for it. If the business is worth going for then don’t let anything put you off
• Play to your strengths. You’ll have plenty of them – not just the ones listed above
• And play to Goliath’s weaknesses. What are the areas where you can deliver and a big company can’t?
Have a brilliant weekend: I’m convinced the business climate is moving more and more in favour of smaller companies and I’d be absolutely delighted to hear about your David vs. Goliath successes…