Column: Outnumbered but never out of the game


They were a new and small startup consulting company. Having barely opened the doors of the business, they identified an opportunity where their specialized expertise could help find and deliver the solutions that a very large corporate prospect was looking for. Although they were new and small, their reputation in the industry was solid, and they were invited to compete for the business.

Three other organizations were also invited in to vie for the opportunity to possibly provide services to the prospective client. All three were well-established consulting companies and were coming to the table with decades of experience and proven track records of success. There was not much risk in choosing any of these three companies.

As the vetting process went on, the founders of the tiny startup still believed that they could absolutely provide the highest levels of service for the prospective client and were already starting to assemble a bench of potential independent contractors they would need should they be awarded the business. They discussed the competition every week as the process went on, and they knew they were outnumbered and maybe even seen as outmatched because of the strong reputations of the three competitors.

Outnumbered and maybe outmatched, yet they were never out of the game.

When the prospect had made the announcement that they had narrowed the field down to two, the small startup was not shocked to find themselves in the final two. They truly believed that they could provide the client with exceptional service and work with them to deliver the desired results. Their final competitor was shocked that the prospect had selected the startup, and they became overconfident that they would win. This was a mistake.

In the final discovery, due diligence and sales presentations, the team from the startup showed up better prepared and presented comprehensive performance solutions that included a practical and tactical plan that made sense. The larger, more established, and well-known and respected consulting company came in with overengineered and complicated plans, and plans that included very little in the way of tactical execution.

At the end of the process the prospective client awarded the business to the new and small startup because they felt like they had demonstrated that they had the client’s best interest at heart. Although they were new and small, they trusted them enough to assemble a team that could meet all expectations and deliverables. Outnumbered, perceived to be outmatched, but never out of the game.

When the executive team of this startup shared their reasons from why and how they won, I was so fired up and happy for them. I mean who doesn’t love a great underdog victory story? It had me reflecting on some of the situations where I found myself in the underdog’s seat, and where I may have lost a little bit of confidence myself.

In life, there are times where we all get to feeling a bit outnumbered and outmatched, so much so that we become uninspired or demotivated, believing we may have already lost. When this happens it can set us back or even completely derail us from completing something or competing for something that we were once very passionate about. What we should always remember is that it doesn’t matter if they seem bigger, better, faster or stronger than we are. No, what matters is how we show up and the size of our heart, passion and desire to win.

The small consulting company beat the Goliaths they faced because they were better prepared, brought specific expertise and were never intimidated by their competition. They never let themselves feel like they were out of the game.

How about you? Are there times where you feel overwhelmed, outnumbered and outmatched? Do you keep yourself in the right head space when it comes to staying in the game? I would love to hear your story at, and when we can show up prepared to win, expecting to win, and with the passion and desire to win, it really will be a better than good life.

Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.

michael norton, columns in local news, health and wellness coach, life coach


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