4 Small Business Lessons from ‘David and Goliath’

The Biblical story of David and Goliath is a well-known parable. The story goes that Goliath, a giant and the champion of the Philistines, challenged the Israelites to send out their champion and decide the outcome of their ongoing war in single combat. None of the Israelites dared to face the fearsome behemoth…except David.

Despite facing seemingly insurmountable odds – going against a well-armed and trained warrior who HAPPENED TO BE A GIANT – David was undaunted. He brought only a sling and a pouch full of stones, against Goliath’s sword and shield. Then, as Goliath charged in for the kill, David found a vulnerable spot in his opponent’s armor and slung one of his stones there. His precise throw hit Goliath in the head and knocked him out, allowing David to move in for the kill and win the war for the Israelites.

David and Goliath is often referenced as a moral lesson of how underdogs can overcome the odds and be successful. The phrase “David strategies” has been used to describe what underdogs have to do to overcome Goliaths or favorites, in business, sports and life.

Which takes us to small businesses, specifically. We believe so strongly in the power of small businesses that one of our founding tenets is to give SMBs an even playing field on which to compete with larger competitors, i.e. giving SMB Davids the slingshot they need to defeat Goliath.

So what exactly can small businesses learn from the story of David vs. Goliath?

Speed and agility beat size

At first glance, Goliath might seem unbeatable – bigger and stronger than any man. David, on the other hand, was quick and agile. While he could not best Goliath in brute strength, his speed advantages allowed him to react to Goliath’s offensives, and then pivot into a more advantageous position.

Those are the same advantages small businesses have. When they learn something about their sales process that needs to be corrected, they can quickly pivot and change it, without having to run it up the executive chain of command. Small businesses need to take advantage of this agility by learning (and failing) fast, reacting quickly and changing before their larger competitors.

Precision matters

If David had slung his stones all over the place in a rapid-fire but willy-nilly fashion, he would not have been able to pinpoint Goliath’s vulnerabilities. One well-delivered stone was much more effective than firing off his entire pouch full of ammo.

Sales and marketing teams at small businesses should think about their processes in the same fashion. Instead of blasting emails across huge unsegmented databases, marketing teams should target more precisely and actually find prospects who might be interested. Same goes for sales teams making prospecting calls – imagine how much more efficient the process will be if the reps have a good idea of their Ideal Customer Profile in mind, and can precisely target those types of prospects. Spray-and-pray is not nearly as efficient or effective as precise targeting.

Disrupt the rules and status quo

The ‘rules’ as envisioned by Goliath and the Philistines dictated that a single champion from the Israelites would fight Goliath in hand-to-hand combat, where Goliath’s strength and military skill would surely win out. Any combatant fighting on his terms and under his rules stood no chance.

Small businesses don’t have to play by the rules established by their larger and more established competitors – in fact, they would be foolish to. What these SMBs should do instead is look for ways to disrupt the status quo and do things in a different way.

Live on the cutting-edge of technology

A lot of these different ways usually centers around technology, which can be the great equalizer. Cutting-edge technology can do a great job of leveling out the playing field. David certainly knew that lesson, bringing in the slingshot to give him range and precision, at a time when the popular weapon of choice was the more close-ranged sword and shield.

Similarly, small businesses should identify technologies that can give them a leg up. For instance, having access to a turnkey sales analytics solution can help SMBs dive into their sales metrics to find inefficiencies and areas of possible improvement. That type of technology and visibility isn’t readily available to larger enterprises, giving SMBs a distinct advantage…if they were to use it correctly.


Small businesses are natural Davids, fighting against larger and more established competitors who seemingly have all the advantages of strength, size and resources. This means that SMBs have to think outside the box and use their own built-in advantages – speed, agility, precision and disruption – to compete. By learning from the classic story of David vs. Goliath, they just might be able to deliver that killer knockout blow themselves.


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