David vs. Goliath

How do you take on the established giants? Here are three small businesses that found their niche.

Crestwood vs. UBS Wealth Management
Crestwood vs. UBS Wealth Management
The challenge: Build a thriving practice around clients other firms don't initially covet.

What they did: It's easy for entrepreneurs who have made it big to find wealth managers. For up-and-coming company owners, it's not so easy. By focusing on this underserved market, Crestwood Advisors has grown to about 250 accounts and $800 million in assets under management since it opened in 2003. Its sweet spot: entrepreneurs with at least $1 million -- and, more typically, $3 million to $6 million -- to invest. The 13-employee Boston firm has expanded through word of mouth sparked by such practices as returning phone calls within the hour. Clients also like the firm's policy of investing alongside them in a value-oriented portfolio. "Entrepreneurs want to know we have skin in the game," says John Morris, 45, a co-founder.

By Elaine Pofeldt, contributor @FortuneMagazine - Last updated March 21 2012: 6:25 AM ET
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