Photo by Felix Meynet on Unsplash

At the May 2019 panel discussion “Competing with Giants: How Small Businesses Solve Big Business Challenges” hosted by Capital One Spark Business and Inc., three business owners shared their experience in competing against large companies and growing their business. These entrepreneurs offered tips for managing start-ups and small businesses.

Christina Stembel, founder and CEO of San Francisco, California-based Farmgirl Flowers, suggested managing growth wisely. When she started her business in 2010, she thought that fast growth was the key to success. She sought financing for expansion but was turned down by investors many times even though she showed them 100 year-on-year growth of the company. Stembel realized she needed to focus on profitability and bootstrapped her way to what is now a $23-million-dollar business. She also advises business owners to never stop marketing even during lean times.

Mike Lenard, founder and CEO of Washington D.C.-based Korean taco grill company TaKorean, recommends finding creative solutions to reduce expenses. Lenard reinvests almost all of his profits back into the business and has no extra cash for lavish spending. So, when he goes on business trips to Mexico and Korea, he uses his Capital One Spark Business reward miles. He also makes it a point to integrate the “flavors and architectural aesthetic” he has observed from his travels back into his business.

David Collado, Co-Owner and President of Detroit, Michigan-based manufacturer of all-natural dog treats Happy Howie’s, advises business owners to plan for seasonality. In his business, he has observed that business before the December holidays are usually strong while it is slow in December and January. He uses the time of weak sales to repair or maintain equipment and train his team members. Collado also suggests looking for opportunities in non-traditional channels.

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