In the ocean the food chain starts with small fish and progresses with ever larger fish until the top of the food chain is reached with the shark being the dominant species. The small fish try to out-maneuver the larger fish and the largest and most aggressive fish fear nothing and display that attitude as they swim the deep blue. The world of business is no different. Small businesses try to out-maneuver larger businesses, trying to gain market share and avoid demise. The largest businesses have great visibility because of their size and have no fear of competition from their smaller rivals. The key to surviving as a small business is to become a big fish in a small pond.
A small fish has to learn how to get a meal with all the larger fish around. Small fish learn to feed off the scraps that the bigger fish leave behind. Small businesses must do the same thing. Because of their size, small businesses have the ability to make decisions quickly and the agility to move into and out of segments within their businesses market taking advantage of unique opportunities. Additionally, small businesses can operate on smaller margins and can easily establish themselves in niches that larger businesses don’t consider profitable because of their large appetite for cash flow. These niches in the market become the small fish’s pond.
Small fish in the ocean find protection in shoreline mangroves or the structure of the reef system. As they become larger they move into slightly more open environments but usually never put themselves in a position where they can’t return to cover. Small businesses need to operate the same way. Staying within their protective niche they can gain size and financial strength and slowly venture out into the large businesses’ domain using the safety of their niche to regress to if protection is needed. If a small business uses this strategy wisely it will quickly become the largest company within its niche and thus a big fish in a small pond.