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, Moonlight Serenade. The movie’s protagonist, Josh Baskin, trapped within his pre-pubescent prison, yearns to be Big.
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 cases of toner instead of extricating the cartridge from the copier and banging it against the machine, trying to coax one last ream of paper’s worth 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. Wouldn’t it be great to make payroll AND keep yourself in shoe leather?
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, which includes the following benefits:
Fewer layers of bureaucracy
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 preference). 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. The agility and confidence of The Small against The Big ends up making a huge difference to a lot of people.
Or consider the Battle of Helms Deep, when the whole she-bang falls because of a grate, an over confident king and some well-placed Orc mutant bearing explosives. In this case, one single individual was able to exploit a weakness to gain advantage (rather like “Netflixing” your competition).
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.
It’s true that you can’t turn the Queen Mary around on a dime. 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.
Nurture where you are
Grow your network of “roots”
Reach for the sky
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?