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The hallmark of good strategy is the David & Goliath story; from start-ups to market challengers, everybody dreams of becoming David, the victorious underdog. However, the majority do not manage to build a “David”, but they create a 10x weaker Goliath and send it to fight against not 1 but at least 3 much bigger Goliaths.
For the past 20+ years we have participated in building strong Davids, as well as worked for several Goliaths. As a general conclusion, the main reason why companies fail to build a David is lack of expertise in all the areas that form a business model.
For those less familiar with the David and Goliath's story, let's get into more details.
It is said that strategy brings relative strength to bear against relative weakness. This concept is perfectly illustrated by the story. And it can be found in any successful strategy in human history (social, military and business).
Goliath was an experienced, big, heavily armed fighter in the Philistine army. He provoked to a 1:1 combat any willing fighter from the Israelites army. As imagined, nobody wanted to fight him. When a young shepherd, David volunteered, Saul the Israelites King tried to change his mind but as David persisted, he offered him his armor and sword. David discarded them as they were heavy, and he was not used to them. Instead, he took his sling, put some stones in his bag and ran to face Goliath. When he was close enough he took out a stone, slung it and struck Goliath in his forehead. The giant warrior fell face down on the ground. David was victorious.
If we transfer the story into the business world, Goliath and David represent two different business models. Goliath is the typical market leader. To defeat it requires a business model designed to exploit the weaknesses of the market leader's business model. What happens most of the time is that companies copy elements of a market leader's business model as “best practices” and instead building a ‘David’ business model they become a smaller, weaker Goliath. Most startups and market challengers come up with a sling (the product) but they also try to wear an armor and weapons similar to Goliath (best practices). They have the idea and the expertise to design a sling but not the expertise to create a fighter that can use that sling effectively.
Having a technology or being an expert in building a product doesn't equal the expertise required to build a successful international brand. With Attnovate's initiative we want to help startups and scale-ups to get access to expert knowledge in all areas required to build a ‘David’ business model.