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The David AND Goliath effect: It’s all about collaboration

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But it doesn’t have to be like that!

Rather than pitting yourself against big players, we’ve found that there is actually a lot that established businesses can learn from challengers. We all know that big companies have a wealth of experience, but small businesses can give a fresh perspective. 

Our 30:30 Vision initiative focused on exactly that. We gathered 30 challenger businesses and six big businesses on the London Eye – from sectors ranging from fashion to social enterprise – to discuss how their industries will evolve in the next 30 years. 

With new technology and innovations continuously changing the way that we live and work, each business was able to draw on its own experience. However, through this collaboration, one thing became clear – small and large businesses have a lot to learn from each other. 

1. Ideas

Ideas are in no short supply when you bring challenger businesses face to face with established brands. Young and small companies can pick out innovative opportunities for larger businesses – usually swamped by processes and protocol. Big businesses can in turn alert SME’s to potential missed opportunities and guide their development. 

2. Investment

There is a mutual benefit to be gained when looking at investment. There has never been a better time for small businesses to secure funding from large companies. More and more people are recognising and celebrating the UK’s entrepreneurial potential. Big brands can nurture small start-ups and find themselves with a very attractive investment opportunity at the end of it. 

3. Profile

Start-ups and small businesses are exciting! They remind us all of why we go into business in the first place. Large companies that support small businesses end up with fantastic stories to tell. Smaller companies can also build their brand and reputation as experts through working with some well-known industry figures.

4. Customers

Customers are key to any business’s success. Large companies can provide their smaller counterparts with access to new markets and open doors with a powerful endorsement. Partnering with and learning from small business can be a great way for large companies to serve their customers better and attract news ones.

5. Know-how

There is no doubt that big businesses can mentor small companies. Helping them avoid common pitfalls is key to business know-how. But when it comes to expertise, small businesses are likely to have some amazing specialist knowledge. This is highly valuable to larger companies with a much broader focus.

The UK as a whole can benefit from collaboration. Bringing better ideas to market faster in a competitive environment means that British businesses are more likely to thrive. Our economy needs to be a place where ideas can flourish and reach their full potential. This means better products and services resulting in a better standard of living for everyone. Rather than David vs Goliath, it should be David AND Goliath. The process of innovation and disruption is the lifeblood of UK plc.

Duncan Higgins is marketing director at Virgin Media Business.

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