The 7 benefits of being small

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One of my favorite movies of all time features a trampoline, a creepy antique carnival soothsayer and one of the most romantic songs ever recorded. The movie’s protagonist, Josh Baskin, trapped within his pre-pubescent prison, yearns to be Big.

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Isn’t that a common yearning for us all when we launch our businesses and organizations? Don’t we all wish that we had unlimited budgets, plush offices in some groovy building and an ability to dominate the market?

If only we didn’t have to decide whether to pay ourselves a salary or stock up on paper clips. If only we could order a whole quarter’s worth of toner instead of extricating the cartridge from the copier and whanging it upside the machine, trying to coax one last ream from it before it expires completely?

Firmly within the throes of Grass Is Greener Syndrome, we wistfully long for the day when we can escape necessity-led scrimping and daily MacGyvering.

Of course, if we spend too much time envying and projecting the assumed Wonderfulness of Being Big, we’re in danger of not appreciating the Power of Being Puny.

  • Agility
  • Fewer layers of bureaucracy
  • Faster iterations
  • Greater sense of immediacy and feedback from those we serve
  • Flexing and developing skills we never knew we had
  • The rush of success
  • The thrill of creating something from scratch

I really love movies, and so I’ll cite a couple of other epic examples of Nimble versus Behemoth (or David and Goliath, depending on your point of reference). The first has to do with an X-Wing, a plucky fighter pilot with some serious Force Mojo and a big honkin’ moon-sized space station of destruction.

Or the Battle of Helms Deep, when the whole she-bang falls because of a grate, an over confident king and a well-placed mutant Orc bearing explosives.

Using a business example, according to Saul Kaplan, author and Chief Catalyst at the Business Innovation Factory, Blockbuster got “Netflixed” by a small start up that saw a niche that wasn’t being filled and built something from nothing to topple a giant in the market place.

Time and again, the power of being small lies with being strategic, focused and responsive in a way a lumbering giant of an organization cannot. It’s true that you can’t turn the Queen Mary around on a dime (that is one big ship!). Same with organizations.

There are certainly benefits to being Big, don’t get me wrong. However, remember that great oaks don’t arrive on this planet 35 feet tall and in full leaf. They grow from acorns. Embrace the power of being small even as you aspire to becoming big.

  • Nurture where you are
  • Grow your network of “roots”
  • Stay flexible
  • Reach for the sky

How about you? What are your biggest (no pun intended) challenges of being a smaller business? How do you overcome them? What successes can you share with us?

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Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or like them on facebook.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great post Molly, I’ve shared it with the Pitch Refinery community as I think they’d find it especially useful. 

  2. Thanks Melissa! Startups especially can fall into the trap of focusing on what they lack rather than what they have. I hope that it provides a springboard for discussions and topics that can be explored through your conference at Pitch Refinery.