Kickstart Your Start-up by Capitalizing on Weaknesses of Multinationals

Start-ups become fat by converting the weaknesses of multinationals into their strengths

Big firms seem to have it all. Audacious business plans that seem to span a lifetime. Intimidating logos that have withstood the test of time. And brand strategy that tells stories like fairy tales. Moreover, they have been in the business for decades. This has enabled them to amass the expertise necessary to withstand any political upheavals, economic uncertainties, and social changes. These pioneers have managed to go through the experience curve.

However, in recent years, entrepreneurial firms have also sprung up like mushrooms despite some setbacks. More often they set their wheels in motion without much planning or strategy. Although market forces have compelled them to do so for future sustenance. They did not have the political, economic or social clout that the giant behemoths claim. They still managed to become successful companies in their earnest desire to satisfy a market need in their respective fields. How did they do it?

What are the competitive advantages of big firms?

Many large corporations and multinational conglomerates consolidate their production processes to cut costs and to centralize their decision-making structure. The economic and trade policies of several governments make it easier for those companies to do so. It gives them a huge advantage. They are able to cut costs. They are able to borrow from the expertise and resources of the geographical area where they base their production activities. For instance, they take advantage of the cheap labor or tax systems, and sometimes even the weather conditions for certain products. They win the favor of labor unions and local communities in which they reside since they create jobs and stimulate the economy. And they seem to have very cozy and symbiotic relationships with peripheral businesses within the industry.

Another advantage multinational companies have is deep pockets that enable them to produce flashy television advertisements during high-profile international events such as Olympics and in popular venues backed by celebrities. Such marketing gimmicks are unrivaled and smaller firms cannot match them because of the high price advertisers demand. Such advertisements have a wider appeal, and at the end of the day, it’s a numbers game.

The social and business network that large consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have gained due to being in the business market for a very extended period gives them access for prominent placements on shelves. In the cases of large service firms, this gives them the enviable position to gain access to huge conglomerates through providing consultancy support. If nothing, public perception favors big company brands.

What are the weaknesses of start-ups?

Start-ups on the other hand, by them being in the infancy stage, unfortunately, do not have many of the power and privileges that big businesses have. Mostly people who have either failed in the job market or out of stark economic necessity found a company which implies less financial resources. Often they are at the disposal of friends, families or fools to lend them money to scale their business operations. Although venture capitalists and angel investors have risen in recent years, the brutal bureaucratic procedures involved in getting to pitch in front of such capitalists deter many start-up entrepreneurs to abandon their efforts at a very early stage of the process.

What is then left for them to do, is to start from the grassroots level that entails knocking on the doors of prospective customers. It takes an enormous amount of motivation, ambition, and drive which are rare commodities in this age of instant gratification because the efforts take a long time to yield results, if at all. Sometimes the lukewarm response from the market can take a toll on the individual and can sap the energy level. It can lead to frustration, disenchantment and a lack of self-worth.

Hope – yes we can!

Hope is at hand. Think about the risks involved in consolidated manufacturing enjoyed by many multinational companies. In most cases, the companies have a stake in the real estate of the production system – land, factories, and capital-intensive machinery. They are vulnerable to single currency swings as well as the economic chaos that may ensue after that. Start-up companies who are smart enough outsource their production of goods and services. Any pitfalls then will be borne by the companies who own the production infrastructure. In other words, start-ups get to make hay while the sun shines and can quickly withdraw when times are rough.

Thanks to the time we live in, the Internet has made it possible for start-ups to reach out to an equal number of people using social media and digital marketing in the comfort of their dens or basements that they use to start their businesses. Hence they do not have to resort to the flashy television advertisements.

Online distribution network companies such as Amazon works as a perfect substitute to prominent shelf placement for start-up companies. It has enormous potential for entrepreneurial firms for secure delivery as well as to scale their operations to the magnitude of that of multinationals if done right.

Take a piggy-back ride

Outsourcing the production processes as well as online marketing and distribution can all be done with a fraction of the cost sometimes even free of charge. For example, the success of content marketing relies predominantly on the quality of the content. If one looks around one can find hundreds of tools and tactics that is being made possible in this day and age for a start-up company to grow and make money. So the moral of the story is to take a piggy-back ride on the times we are!

Additionally, in most industries barriers to entry are falling making it irresistible for an entrepreneur. The Internet gives us real-time information about the market thereby making start-ups more attuned to the needs of the market. What all these factors do for a start-up is give them much-needed agility, dexterity, and nimbleness in the decision-making.

Photo: Verne Ho