It is interesting how much we cherish the battle between David and Goliath, yet we understand very little about it and it’s applications. So often we look at how the young boy defeated the giant, which is true, but there is so much more. As we relate this to business there is a lot that we can learn and study and incorporate into our business practices. As I am reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath I am realizing a key principle that I have forgotten. When fighting Goliath we can not go mano y mano. Hand to hand combat will defeat us every time!
One of the keys to getting Altra to where we are today is thinking and acting differently. We didn’t go straight up to the Goliaths of the shoe industry and take a cheap sword and some chincy armor and say, “Large Shoe Company, let’s battle”. We couldn’t do it. We couldn’t afford to do it. We made great product and then stood back with no armor and a sling. Thankfully in this day and age we had a sling that helped us do it. 20 years ago we couldn’t have done it the same way.
Today we have blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and so much more that allows a more even playing field. We didn’t throw down the hundreds of thousands of dollars every month to match the ad campaigns of the big boys. We didn’t sponsor the major key events right away. We didn’t go out and get the flagship athlete. We slowly built a grass roots business with amazing fans that are extremely loyal, we put a lot of emphasis on social media and creating a powerful community and we worked smaller events and brand ambassadors to become relevant. We also went door to door to small retailers and built the specialty first.
We fought Goliath with a different tactic then just head on. We sought to keep our distance, remain swift without all the baggage of armor and attack on a different playing field. I think we may have gotten away from that tactic too much at times. It is key for us to be strategic and swift if we plan to overthrow the great obstacles in our way. We must use a different tactic if we are to compete. A small company can not fight the same way as a company 10x or even 100x their size. Stretch your mind to think outside the box and use the tools at your disposal to build your business amongst the Goliaths around you. Keep at it and you will succeed. You may never overtake them, but you will compete with them.