How Small Businesses Can Outperform Large Corporations with Sam Mallikarjunan

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Show Notes:

Wondering about the greatest advantage that small businesses have over large corporations? Then, you’re going to want to hear our guest’s helpful insights!

Meet Sam Mallikarjunan. Sam is the CEO and co-founder of, the marketplace provider for buying and selling out-of-home (OOH) advertising. He is a Former Instructor at Harvard, where he taught Advanced Digital Marketing, SaaS Economics, and Innovation Management at the Division of Continuing Education and was also the Head of Growth at HubSpot Labs. Also, Sam is the co-author of the bestselling book Inbound Commerce – How to Sell Better than Amazon. According to Sam, business growth is no magic, but it’s something that should be intentionally and methodically executed.

He believes that people are the most valuable asset to every organization, and he’s most proud of the incredible impact the people he’s helped grow will have on the world.

In this episode of the Think Business with Tyler podcast, we talk about the importance of thinking outside of the box in business, the biggest competitive advantages that small businesses have over large ones, the importance of self-care for entrepreneurs, and why you should invest in your people.

If you want to get more powerful tips for your small business, make sure you tune into this episode to hear what Sam has to say.


💡 Name: Sam Mallikarjunan

💡 What he does: He’s the CEO and Co-Founder of

💡 Noteworthy: He is a Former Instructor at Harvard and the Head of Growth at HubSpot Labs.

💡 Key Quote: “The good thing about small businesses is that your customers have an emotional attachment to you, to a degree that larger companies don’t.”

💡 Where to find Sam: LinkedIn

Key Insights

Think outside of the box. Small businesses often have a tight budget and limited resources. That’s why innovative thinking is key when you’re first starting out. Whether you’re doing business in a creative industry or not, thinking outside of the box goes a long way. Sam explains, “This quote has always bothered me. ‘When what you’re doing isn’t working, you tend to do more of the same, but with greater intensity.’ You can get away with that when you’re at a 50 billion company, you can’t get away with that when you’re a 5 million company, and you have to have an open mind, to be trying and exploring new things. So depending on what the business is, something out of home may make a lot of sense.”

The biggest advantage that small businesses have is the ability to build close customer relationships. While it’s true that giant corporations have more resources and hold dominant positions in the market, small businesses have one secret ingredient that large businesses don’t. And it’s the ability to connect with their customers on a deeper level.

Sam explains, “You have the ability as a smaller company to use ML marketing to create a relationship with consumers that they’re just not going to have with other brands because they don’t care. No offense to my dear friends at Atlassian, but I don’t care about their new product update email that they just sent me. If there’s something interesting about it, I’ll see it in the user interface. But my local cigar lounge that’s having a Super Bowl party, I read that email. I even read the text message. You can do text message marketing, but if Atlassian sends me a text message, I’m replying stop.”

Taking care of yourself means taking care of your business. We all know that self-care is key to a happy and fulfilled life. So why do so many people end up neglecting their well-being and health? Entrepreneurs and start-up founders are particularly terrible at taking care of themselves and putting their needs first. But prioritizing self-care is not only good for them, but it’s also better for their businesses in the long run.

Sam says, “Entrepreneurs should think of themselves more like professional sports athletes do, which is you have to rest because if you get injured, you’re out of the game. In our case, that metaphor is getting burned out. And that is one of the big mistakes I see lots of professionals and entrepreneurs make is they get burned out. They don’t notice it for months, and then your performance declines. You don’t do well interacting with the other people at your company.”

Your people are truly your greatest asset. People are the lifeblood of every business. So it’s vital to invest in their knowledge and skills if you want to scale your business. Your people are and will always be your greatest asset. Sam explains, “You are not scalable. So you’ve got to build, invest in people, invest in those teams, invest in relationships outside of your industry, and invest in your personal relationships because that’s fuel for what you’re doing. If you don’t do that, you’re not going to be success. We think that it’s the other way around, right? You’ve gotta do everything yourself, work hard, hustle. You’re less likely to be successful and build a successful entrepreneurial career if you try and do everything yourself versus if you ask for help, offer help, and develop those relationships.”

Top Quotes

“Whatever you create a dashboard for is what people are going to solve for, whether it’s run pace or sales calls or whatever.”

“That’s the biggest thing where it’s hard to wrap your mind around what’s possible because the internet is easy, right? It’s a two-dimensional context. Everybody’s relationship to the screen is basically the same. The real world is significantly more complicated.”

“Let’s be honest, no one actually understands AI. We’ve been using it for a really long time, and we just accept it when it comes to Facebook and LinkedIn, feedback, conversion tracking, pixel, and they’re going to optimize your ads for you. For some reason, when we talk about real-world analytics, because it has the additional dimension of location data and context, and were people on their way to work, were they on their way home from work? Was it raining outside? We have to go into more detailed explanations about how the AI actually works in terms of taking this data.”

“Marketers have gotten kind of lazy. We’ve been spoiled for the last 15 or 20 years because we’ve just been able to run tests on the internet, optimize, spend more money online, inventory has grown because adoption has grown, and we’ve lost that skill of exploring new things we don’t understand.”

“Invest in customer marketing. So, how do you get customers to be your marketing acquisition engine? Things like Google reviews, et cetera. Instead of my marketing team can beat up your marketing team, it’s like, my community of empowered and motivated customers can beat up your marketing team. It’s a very unfair advantage.”

“My favorite life advice came from the airline safety video. Secure your own mask for assisting others, right? Doesn’t mean you don’t care about the baby in the seat next to you, but if you can’t breathe, you’re no good to the people who count on you. It’s the same thing when you’re running a startup or a small business.”

“There’s a line between creepy corporate surveillance and actually helpful feedback and coaching. And the fact that the majority of the people on my team opt to share the majority of the calls that they do is a good sign for me that they’re getting value from it, right? Because everybody’s a customer in every interaction. In that interaction, they’re my customer.”

“I think that’s something really special about this is business owners have never had more tools at their disposal to be connected to their customers in a really scalable way instead of just telling the account management team, send me three book three customer calls for me this week. I can actually hear them talking and interacting with people on the team.”

“Don’t fall too much in love with what your vision of the future’s going to be. That can be where you want to go, but you’re going to get there a lot faster if you find a way to be backward compatible with people who aren’t quite ready to live in the future yet.”


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