I just lost a big tender because I am small. How do we appear big?

Aunty B

I run a small consulting company and my customers are giants in the mining/resources sector.

I just lost a tender to a large competitor and I am so pissed off because we bent over backwards to work on it and we are quite frankly far better than our competitor.

But we were told we were “too much of a risk because we are small.” What should I do? How can we appear to be larger than we are?




Dear Depressed,

Why not try being lofty, arrogant and out of touch with your customers. People would instantly assume you are a global company.

Seriously that is very disappointing. I thought size – at least in business – no longer mattered.

Here are 10 top tips from my entrepreneur buddies to assist with size discrimination.

  1. Aggressively market large customer lists, customers, testimonials and case studies.
  2. Employ people who have extensive experience in the industry. They can then use that experience to the benefit of clients while stressing the benefits from your lack of overheads, commissions and trappings.
  3. Understand it will take a lot of time to build trust. Offer to do a three month trial and then kill yourself providing excellent customer service.
  4. Make sure your marketing and communications is always that of a large company. Get everything proof-read and professionally designed.
  5. Chase smaller, less risky projects and exceed all expectations.
  6. Remind large companies that many brilliant businesses have started from home, that they were once a start-up and what a valuable contribution they are making by giving you a go. HP started in a garage!
  7. Associate with large businesses and shamelessly name drop.
  8. Stack your board with well-respected names or seek out well-connected mentors.
  9. If you are really small, get your wife to use her family name, teach your children to only use their first names and always use ‘we’ – even if it is just ‘you’.
  10. Identify the Australian companies that are part of global organisations that are limited in developing local initiatives. Then don’t bother pitching to them.


And if people ask whether you will be in business this time next year, point out that’s a tricky question. If companies as large as Ansett, HIH and OneTel could not predict their own demise…


What are you waiting for? Email your questions, problems and issues to [email protected] right now!



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