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February 4, 2022

When Staying Small is Staying Strong

We work with businesses of all sizes and there are always challenges that exist no matter how big or small you are. The first solution that comes to mind is usually to โ€˜grow biggerโ€™. Growth is often the simple, undefined answer to small problems. It is also directionless, distant, and aspirational. In reality, growth not only grows your problems but it also complicates things with momentum and speed.

We regularly encounter small businesses that turn more profit than an organization ten times their size because at the end of the day, size does not reflect success.  

What is important to look at is the cause of a problem, or a reason why your business is experiencing an issue and build that solution into your foundation. While small, you have a testing ground to make mistakes and create an incredible process with minimal fallout. Hang on to this phase of your business until demand is pulling you to grow.  

The last few years have created unprecedented challenges and the businesses who were able to pivot, adapt, and change course found success. They found small markets and new opportunities due to their size, and those timely changes could be implemented almost immediately. Small was an advantage.  

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The Infrastructure of Growth

An often neglected part of growth is administration and management, combined with a wavering factor of gusto. What I mean is this: 

A team of one is very easy to manage, it’s all you. Everything is in your head and it doesn’t need to be articulated because it’s you. You know what you mean. And your gusto picks up the slack because this is your baby. 

Let’s say you grow into a small team of 3. Now there is a learning curve and you will need to adapt your process and articulate your ideas so that others can run with them. Still, one of the benefits of a small team is that everything is still within arms reach. You can easily correct and manage if anything veers off from your vision, but that buy-in gusto naturally starts to fall off. This baby belongs to only you. 

Now grow that team to a dozen employees. Once again you need to further define your intentions, you can no longer have each person at arm’s reach and manage their work. This means that you are probably now ready to employ a couple managers, people who no longer produce the work, but manage the people. That’s a new expense that didn’t exist on the small scale. Now add accountants, lawyers, office space, and you’re looking at exponential costs when you thought bigger was going to be easier. It takes a lot of fuel to power this machine and a reactive, gut-navigated approach isn’t going to support your vision. 

Faithful processes and finite procedures are now what drives you to success.     

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What’s the difference between following your natural talent and gut instincts or being a frantic reactionary in chaos? The truth is that they can often be one in the same, we are just marketing it differently to ourselves. We can get comfortable not doing the preparation and relying only on our natural talents to get us through the storms and although we may survive the storm, that doesnโ€™t mean that we are prepared for the next one.

Paying close attention to business trends is essential to strengthening your company. A BDC survey identified that one of the trends that will transform Canadian companies is technology trends. The growth of virtual marketplaces is something to pay close attention to in 2022. With online sales skyrocketing and expected to continue, our advice is to build an online presence, learn how to attract customers online, and be active on social media – or hire someone that can help with that!

As business owners we have to look at the reality of today and solve for today. Listen to your customers and create solutions that work for them. Solving while you’re small has proven to be a mindset for success because it keeps you focused on solutions, attainable results, and your customers rather than fantasies.

Dreaming is incredibly important for businesses. We always encourage our clients to look for opportunities for the future and dream, while always remembering to keep solutions within reach. Don’t rely on growth to determine success. Stay small as long as you can and allow your success to direct your growth.  

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