Malcolm Gladwell’s new book is garnering a lot of attention, in part because it’s fun to read and full of interesting anecdotes. Beyond those lovely bonuses, the book offers insights that surprisingly relevant to business strategy, and therefore to your accounting firm.
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants is the author’s latest work, and it’s chock full of fun stories about underdogs. We love reading these, because they satisfy some hidden corner of the psyche that wants to see the little guy win, the long shot come in first and the rejected become the idol. It’s human nature, and it’s good old-fashioned entertainment to boot. But there are some ideas in the book that can also be applied to business to effectively make your firm more successful. Surprised? Check out these strategies from Gladwell that might let sneak up on victory from an unexpected angle.
People love underdogs.
So if you’re worried about being a small firm competing with established, popular firms that fill your niche you might as well admit your place and stake out a claim on underdog status. Why pretend you’re already the big player when you’re not? Approach your marketing and firm style from a place of reality, which means you’re small, motivated and not yet the first choice of most clients but confident you’re the best in your niche. Now go show a few people that motivation and confidence and watch what happens.
Disagreeable means different.
Gladwell writes of “disagreeable” entrepreneurs who don’t follow the established business paradigm. Making new rules in the marketplace isn’t automatically an etiquette flaw; it’s often the definition of “disruptive” innovation that creates lasting change for the better. The companies that are willing to shrug off the established rules in favor of a better way that’s never been tried are those that become hugely successful “out of nowhere.” That “nowhere” is somebody’s great idea and some firm’s willingness to give it a try.
Big fish, small niche.
Gladwell spends some time in the book talking about the benefits of being successful in a smaller setting as opposed to struggling in a larger, more competitive context. Your ultimate goals for your firm may involve massive growth or huge financial success, but no matter what they are, you’re most likely to reach the level of success you seek by refining your target niche down to a very specific one. Professional services firms abound. Be the one that specializes in serving a narrowly defined niche and you’re well on your way to becoming number one in your chosen market spot. From there, you can go on to dominate whatever new territory you choose.
Gladwell’s books, which include Outliers, The Tipping Point and others, are always fascinating and full of interesting perspectives. Get your hands on his latest if you can, and see what kind of business tips you can find hidden there among the broader observations.
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