If you are running a small business I think you have to make a choice. Are you going to be a junior, smaller version of a big business, if you make that choice, you are likely to fail. You cannot be cheaper than big companies, you cannot be better at following policies than them. You cannot have more salespeople on the street than they do.
Too many small businesses look in the media and say I want to grow up and be big like that business. But successful small businesses are not smaller versions of big business. They are the work of a human being and that is your advantage. The advantage is that the owner, the CEO will answer the phone. The advantage is that you can change a policy, actually who needs a policy when you have six employees. Just do what’s right for the customer. The big company cannot do that.
The magic here, the great thing about the small business is the main thing you have to work the hardest on doesn’t cost any money, the thing you have to work the hardest on is to have the guts to fail in the small.
To fail in the small again and again until you learn how to get it right and to scale that connection, that rightness over and over again as you make an impact.
A lot of business leaders, small business people in particular point to how many people are working for them, how big is their retail footprint, how big is their bank balance. These are things that are artefacts of the industrial economy. The River Rouge plant that Henry Ford built was so big that in the morning you could start walk in and you would not be to the other end before the day was out. The plant had ships, a train rail track, a big furnace, etc. That’s what industrialist do, they smooth things out.
But that’s not what we need small businesses to do. What the market is saying to small businesses is that it doesn’t care how many people work for you, we care about how you are moving things around in a way that works for us as your customers. So you have to make this decision as a small business not to invest in fancier machines, you can lease or outsource all that stuff easy now, but to invest in the most difficult work of caring about people, about your customers and small staff.