It may be a bit premature to say that today’s huge corporations are dead, however, many of them could be considered to be on “life support”.
Here, we are not even considering Enron, Tyco, WorldCom and others ruled by the bad boy CEO’s. The Wall Street Journal just announced that the prototype franchise, McDonalds, just announced its first loss in history. If United Airlines survives bankruptcy, it will be greatly diminished from its former size. General Motors and Ford may be following the slippery slope of Chrysler. The large corporation is not the business model for the 21st century.
Even before the recent spate of corporate disasters, small business fueled America’s economic engine. Consider these facts:
– Nearly ¾ of all U.S. businesses are self-employed individuals with no one else on payroll and are responsible for $580 billion in sales.
– Between 1992-1998, small firms created nearly all of the 12 million net new jobs.
– Another 7 million people are currently considering starting a new business. (Swell, just what we needed – more competition!)
What are the reasons small businesses are thriving while large corporations are barely surviving?
One of my favorite book titles is “It’s not the Big that eat the Small, but the Fast that eat the Slow”. This title sums up what it will take to be successful in the future.
Small companies response time is faster because the distance between the idea and the implementation is quicker.
Small companies can be more creative. If you look at the cleaning and restoration industry, the best products have not come from the large manufacturers but from individuals intimately familiar with our problems and needs.
Personalization (1:1 Marketing)
Small firms can offer a more personalized service. Business is personal. Creating the individual relationships with our customers distinguishes us from the larger firms. Large firms must rely on standard processes and cannot deviate from its guidelines. How often has a service person with a large firm said, “I’m sorry! That’s the company policy!”
Small enterprises are normally more willing to take risks or deviate from the business plan. Large corporations must answer to its investors. At the same time independent owners are totally accountable for their actions. This forces the owner to handle any problems immediately. The owner of a small business is so personally invested that failure is not an option. The small business is more about the idea or vision, which continues to exist regardless of market cycles, infrastructure shifts, or even individual failures.
Aside from the four elements listed above, the most important factor to an independent owner is the idea that you are in control. You decide how large your company will become. The vision of your company does not need to be one of “growth at all costs”. Your small company can be the vehicle to achieve the quality of life you and your family deserve.
Small is beautiful!
Copyright 2002 Bill Yeadon. All rights reserved.
Used here by permission of Bill Yeadon.