Last week Glenn Zimmerman, former NBC news reporter and anchor and current CEO, Co-founder and Director of Storytelling at Mad Bear Productions, wrote an interesting blog entry on my blog ( If you’re a start-up or small business, I’m sure you’ve run into the situation where a large company would prefer to do business with another large, name brand company, such as Deloitte, IBM, etc. Glenn discusses VP’s of marketing being worried about not failing with their assignments. He then points out that success doesn’t even figure into the equation. They just don’t want to fail. And failure means taking a risk with a small, unknown, company where the assignment doesn’t work out. This same VP might pay significantly higher fees to a well-known firm but they are safe. If the project doesn’t work out with a big vendor, then bosses are much more likely to be understanding and forgiving of the situation. But if the vendor is YOU….well, that’s a different story entirely.

So that brings up the small business, start-up conundrum of “how do I get into a club that, by definition, requires that I already belong?” You may be cheaper, faster, have better customer service, have a more cutting edge product or service, may actually have worked at one of the big companies and been trained by them. But once you’re out on your own, breaking in is a whole different story. There’s no largeco infrastructure to help you out.

But you/we have the advantage of being extremely flexible, and extremely creative. The people that work at largecos are by and large, not entrepreneurial unless there’s an intraprenurial culture at that company. So while we wouldn’t stick our neck out while we were on staff, when we’re in charge, that’s what we do on a daily basis. Yes, it’s tough. Yes, it takes creativity. And persistence. And, as Glenn points out, social media tools. I’ll be discussing this further next week (specifically Linked In).

But we do have another advantage today. NYC is full of start-ups that are getting attention by everyone. That also helps smooth the way to get you noticed.

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.