We like to divide things into categories. We talk about short people and tall people. Black and white. Gay and straight.In business, we talk about big and small. But this kind of categorization isn’t quite as useful as it might be for other hard and fast demographic descriptions.

For example, if you’re a short adult, you’re never going to be tall. If you’re white, you’re never going to be black. But in business, every big business started out small.Apple started in a garage in Northern California. Walmart was originally a small store in Arkansas. McDonalds started as a handful of burger joints in San Bernardino.

From day #1 of their existence, these now international conglomerates were in competition with bigger businesses. Apple was in the shadow of the giant IBM. There were plenty of department stores when WalMart came along. And every diner in America made hamburgers that were just as good as McDonalds.

Likewise, if you’re a small business today, you have to compete with big business. But big businesses today have vast technological resources and advantages that make that competition uneven, to say the least.

John Marshall, giving small businesses that big business vibe

John Marshall, giving small businesses that big business vibe

John Marshall is founder and Managing Principal of a company that’s trying to level the playing field.Series Next Solutions is a company that provides small or growing businesses with the kind of services that bigger businesses have in-house.They can be a small business’s Chief Financial Officer, an accounting department, or a Business Intelligence Department.

One of the advantages big business has over small business is information.Big businesses have the resources to put into research. Even something as simple as researching a potential hire – to make sure the person you’re bringing into your company is everything they say they are – is simple for a big business. But it’s difficult and expensive for a small business.

This information gap is where a company called AVeriFact comes in.

Sandra Lovett Tillman knows what you're up to

Sandra Lovett Tillman knows what you’re up to

Sandra Lovett-Tillman is Managing Director and co-owner of AveriFact.Sandra is a licensed Private Investigator who puts her investigative skills to work for small businesses, many of whom are banks and finance companies.

The secret to success in small business is pretty much the secret to success in any walk of life: know and maximize your strengths, and identify and minimize your weaknesses. One of the ways you can minimize your weaknesses in small business is to partner with people who can do what you can’t. In other words, partner with businesses who have particular strengths you don’t.

John Marshall and Sandra Lovett-Tillman head up specialized organizations that are focused on bringing skills and advantages to companies. Although some of their clients are very visible locally, and some are even nationwide, their own businesses don’t generate headlines or get attention. But their contributions are vital to the health and bottom line of the companies they work with. This edition of Out to Lunch turns the spotlight on them for a change and illuminates what goes on in the back office.

Peter Ricchiuti, off of Zoom and back in the saddle live at NOLA Pizza

Peter Ricchiuti, off of Zoom and back in the saddle live at NOLA Pizza

Photos from this show recorded at NOLA Brewing Taproom by Jill Lafleur. And here’s more lunch-table conversation about small business support.