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4 Big Advantages of Small Business

By Shannon Litton, President & CEO

Shannon Litton headshot

As a small or medium-sized business, it’s easy to look around and begin comparing ourselves to the big guys in our respective industries. If only we had their resources. If only we had their team. If only we had their budgets! 

Having led two agency start-ups, I know the feeling. But over the years of working with both small and large organizations, I’ve also come to recognize the challenges that these large organizations face. With all the advantages come red tape, lack of innovation and just general s-l-o-w-n-e-s-s.

With each of those negatives comes a huge positive for small to mid-sized businesses. Especially in industries experiencing disruption, such as health care + health products, the advantages are even more pronounced. They include:

1. The ability to move quickly

While your competitor is filling out the paperwork (or trying to figure out which paperwork to complete), you can make the decision. While they’re waiting for the new role to be added to next year’s fiscal budget projections, you’ve hired already. And while legal is reviewing the seventh revisions to the copy, yours is live on the website.

2. Greater access to your customer

At a recent health products conference I was sitting with leaders from the largest players in the industry. As they described how they get customer feedback (a complicated loop involving big data, sizable insight groups, barcode aggregation, purchase evaluation and a review panel), I thought of some of our 5by5 clients who are winning big. Smaller players are more likely to sell direct-to-consumer and have customer databases at their disposal. They use customer panels to guide decision-making at each step. And ultimately, they are receiving customer insight more directly and timely. So they can, you guessed it, move quickly (it’s a cycle of advantage).

3. Increased risk tolerance

While large organizations may be able to invest more in the research and development department, you’re quicker to adopt an MVP approach and iterate. Old product development cycles quickly fall behind a fast-changing consumer population. And that leads to more…

4. Opportunity to innovate

Change it up. Try it out. See what works. Ultimately, organizations that are able to continually try new things, or at least improve upon their existing efforts, are the real winners.

In conclusion

To leverage these advantages, we must recognize and embrace being small as our superpower. When we quit moving quickly, listening to our customers, taking risks and innovating, we’re killing the things that will allow us to compete with the big guys. 

Lean into these differences. Fight the natural pull towards complication and slowness. I can hear them now on their big, fancy corporate campuses wishing they had your advantages. 


Are you a change maker in healthcare? Let’s partner to clarify your message and reach more consumers. Contact us.


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