The biggest challenge to sustained business success is to manage the risk that once you start to grow, you stop doing the things that made you successful.
When you're starting out, you typically aspire to be great, which often translates to big.
But 'big' isn't everything.
In fact, it can be clunky, bureaucratic, stiflingly political and suddenly too remote from the very customers and people who made you big in the first place.
We're a startup brand that sits within several other business structures (on whom we rely for investment and very helpful things like economies of scale). So of course we aspire to be big and successful like them. We also want to make them proud of us and happy to continue to invest in us, because if we don't, they won't. It's as simple as that.
So we sit on the same spectrum of uncertainty as countless other new businesses. In our case, we know we're an experiment for our investor parents, and a pretty brave one at that. After all, who'd start a business like ours when there are already over 10,000 of them in the UK, many who've been struggling to stay in business for some time?
It's a peculiar kind of madness - but not in the least bit unique. Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs world-wide are similarly accused when they first venture forth of having lost their senses and wasted their efforts. Yet thousands persevere and many ultimately flourish.
We believe it comes down to some actually very simple things. They are really well presented in the article I've chosen to link to my thoughts here.
These simple elements aren't rocket science and they require no specialism or large budget to pursue. Yet they are often overlooked as businesses start to focus on size or growth objectives.
The opening line of the linked article begins, very aptly, with the insightful words of one of my favourite and surprisingly most resilient characters from The Game of Thrones, Lord Varys, who astutely observes that 'a very small man can cast a very large shadow.'
The same can be true of every small business who keeps these simple tactics front of mind.
So join us in setting out to stand up and count.
And if you've really got the guts and the opportunity arises, let me know how you get on with tactic no.4! After all, if it's true that the UK is about to lose the presence of some of its Goliaths to the consequences of Brexit, there may perhaps be some room at the top for the rest of us to stretch into...?!
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When you're a small business there is plenty to envy the big guys for. For sure they have the name and the capital to make some serious waves. But small businesses also have some advantages and options at their disposal, the kinds large companies can only dream of. Here are some tips and tactics to make the most of your small size: