Forgot to say that a good/close relationship with smaller company is way more valuable than a loose relationship with a larger company (in the beginning at least)
Example: Oakley doesn't care if your skis broke and you need new ones, they gave you those goggs and expect you to rep them no matter what. Mikes County ski and board shop on the other hand? They'll help you pick out new skis and make sure you get the best deal possible on them.
Source: I used to be lightly-sponsored for Martial Arts competitions. Everlast gave me free shit-tier gloves once a year (~$30). Compare that to when I explained to the local shop which got me a custom mouthguard (150$+ ) after I chipped a tooth during a match.
ps. Used Oakley as an example, I'm not sure if/how they sponsor but I love the company, wasn't trying to say anything bad about them.