A bit of healthy competition can be beneficial, that’s fair to say. However, there are bound to be several small businesses that feel totally inferior to industry rivals, especially if these rivals are bigger and much more powerful.

It may feel like a continuous uphill struggle, but keeping up with adversaries is essential to survive. The thing is you don’t just want to match competitors: you want to get ahead of them.

Thankfully, there are several ways in which a small business can take on its rivals. Whether you decide to use competitive intelligence methods, such as a company webcheck, or play to your strengths of greater flexibility, here are just a few ways to succeed and prosper.

Concentrate on the customer

Even if your rivals have more customers, it doesn’t necessarily mean they treat them any better. Listen to customer suggestions, build strong business–customer relationships with them and provide the best service possible — and gain a competitive advantage in the process.

Happy customers are more likely to keep on returning and will tell their family or friends about your business. Soon you could be receiving more trade without even having to go searching for it (of course, you should always look to increase trade).

Develop a niche

Most of the time, small businesses exist because they provide a unique, original product or service. Although this might not attract every type of consumer, it’s a clear-cut advantage and you should capitalise on it.

Several big businesses try to cover a little bit of everything, but if you focus on a highly specialised product or gap in the market that rivals aren’t dealing with, then success is a distinct possibility.

Use competitive intelligence

It’s amazing just how many small businesses ignore or disregard competitive intelligence. It might sound like an advanced business practice that only multinational corporations indulge in to spy on rivals, but it’s actually an honest, effective way of knowing what competitors are planning or implementing.

From search engines and online resources to annual resorts and news stories, there are various ways to collect and curate collective intelligence. Have some defined objectives in mind so you know what you’re looking for and how you’ll use it.

Provide added value

With more resources and greater profit margins, big businesses will inevitably be able to beat you on price. Don’t fret. This just gives you the chance to provide added value to customers and reward them in other ways.

Depending on your product or service, you could provide a money-back guarantee or a free quote/consultation. Set-up a reward scheme for loyal customers or put on a fun yet promotional event.

Personalise marketing and promotion

You might not have an extensive marketing budget for far-reaching advertisements or commercials in the press, but small businesses can promote their products in a much more personal way online.

Think about writing blog posts featuring keywords and phrases relating to your business, as search engines will pick them up. Take to social media and interact with both everyday consumers and authoritative industry figures. As well as building a strong reputation, you’ll be able to promote your goods and services.

Large organisations have size and power in their favour, true, but small business have many strengths and resources too, which are just as important. Making money is the end game, but having loads behind you isn’t always the secret to the success.