Grey’s Anatomy Star Buys Starbucks Rival

Entrepreneurs and small business owners know instinctively that a smaller, scrappy competitor can thrive even in the shadow of a larger more entrenched market leader. The key is a loyal following of customers passionate about your products, services, or brand, and a strategy that takes advantage of your unique niche and what sets you apart. In this post we will look at how Davids beat Goliaths and how you can thrive in the face of your competition too.

Latte Love

Coffee shop coup. A group of investors, including actor Patrick Dempsey of hit medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy”, has purchased “your friendly neighborhood coffee shop” Tully’s Coffee out of bankruptcy for $9.15 million. With 47 company-owned shops in Washington and California, the company is known as a popular regional rival of Starbucks, but its parent company TC Global Inc. filed for Chapter 11 in October. The Los Angeles Times

Sexier than Starbucks. Some might question what attracts investment to a company that remains teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and living in the shadow of a giant multinational brand. Dempsey’s answer in a recent interview is simple. He sees Tully’s as “an iconic brand with deep roots in the community” and a very loyal customer base. Maybe most importantly, Dempsey likes the company’s coffee and brings some star power to the brand.

Competitive Edge

Research realities. Whether you realize it or not, every market contains competitors you need to watch out for and the first step is to figure out who they are, according to a company blog from serial entrepreneur Chris Ducker. Once you’ve identified the competition, you’ll need to learn more about their products, services, and business model. Find out if their products or services are of better quality or if their prices are more competitive. Live 2 Sell

That’s the spirit. The spirit of competition can be one of the most beneficial things for your business, writes Tom Ewer of in this guest post on using the competition to your advantage. Recalling an anecdote about his own experiences as a competitive runner, Ewer explains how competition creates benchmarks for a business and imposes an external influence that drives a company forward and helps it succeed. Competition is valuable in all walks of life, writes Ewer.

Product Differentiation

Let’s get real. When identifying your business’s online competition, be sure your are realistic about your market. If you run a small, local IT business catering to small to mid-sized companies in your community, your competitors are probably not global multimillion dollar companies like SAP and Oracle, explains SEO expert Nick Stamoulis. Even if the Internet enables you to gain global visibility, you must still be realistic about your market and competitors, tailoring your online marketing for the right audience and customers. Search Engine Optimization Journal

Bury the hatchet. You must know your competition in order to beat them at their own game. As the old saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but Thomas Ford, marketing director of, explains in this guest post about another way to deal with rivals. One less conventional approach is to try working together for everyone’s benefit. Joining forces with your toughest competition can bring greater success than any of you can find alone. Noobpreneur

Metamorphosis. Insurance salesman and content marketer Ryan Hanley suggests the real trick is not to compete with companies bigger and better funded than yours. Instead, it is to become the competition by changing the game on bigger rivals. Rather than using the huge budget, better brand visibility, and other advantages of larger, well-established companies, you can become their competition by refusing to compete on their level, telling your story, and establishing your brand instead.

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.