Whoever said “size does matter” was partially correct. In a lot of cases it does. I suppose if you were a small mouse and a fat hairy cat had you in a corner, that could be grim. Or, if you were wrestling a 700-pound sumo and you only weighed 99 pounds with your three-pound Nikes, I wouldn’t want to go there either.
However, in business, being small does not need to be the big curse, if you manage it correctly.
During the past couple years, with Oddpodz; my young, petite startup, I’ve felt that small-seriously-sucks syndrome, often and with some giant challenges.
- Vendors regularly provide small firms less-than-stellar service because our cash contribution is relatively small and if they lose the business, it is not a big loss to them.
- Potential employees view small companies as a tightrope career track full of risk, limited security, and likely with no insurance.
- Strategic partners believe success happens by big company association
- Client prospects often get delusional and bonus your larger competitor with meritless points because of their grander size and scale.
That sucks no matter how you package it. And the reality is that everyday, worthy small companies get discriminated against and doors slammed on their little toes because of their size.
So do you stop there and say: “Poor me. I’m small. Being broke is in my DNA”?
No, you don’t let those temporary situations get you down, in fact, use them to get stronger. And appreciate that being small has its benefits too.
Here are four ways to turn around feeling small and disadvantaged into being tall and on the road to mammoth success.
1) Select vendors that are sized for your needs. This may take some additional due diligence, but the outcome will be worth it. Interview with high standards and trust the red flags you see or feel early on. Set expectations up front and put them in writing. And no matter how much you like the vendor, think about what happens if they don’t deliver; how will you get out of the deal without scary repercussions? And if they do an awesome job, let them know with a testimonial and refer new business back to them.
2) Recruit like-minded self-starter, risk-takers. If you are a small, entrepreneurial company, you need entrepreneurial team spirit and support. Don’t waste a lot of time on people who need security blankets. Changing a corporate type into an entrepreneur is like finding a frog that can meow; i.e., likely not going to happen. Be honest with recruits and employees, but it is not always wise to share every detail. And be thoughtful on recognition and rewards. Do both and often and remember it does not always include money.
3) Consistent performance supersedes size every time. There are big strategic partners and ideal clients who will give opportunities to small businesses. In some cases it is luck; in most cases it is because the small company earned the opportunity by doing a great job, going the extra mile, and squashing the big partner or clients’ perceived risk associated with small. From your proposal to delivering the goods or services, don’t settle for being average; go for brilliance everyday.
4) Confidence is a powerful weapon. Being small is no cakewalk. However, it is pretty amazing how many small details can make a big difference when you are a small potato. Much of the perception a small business creates is controllable. Confidence is communicated by posture and your handshake (stand tall and leave the wet fish at home), dress (better to overdress any day); and choice of words, written and spoken (don’t feel or think something, believe it and don’t suggest an idea, recommend it).
Be proud of small.
All the giant firms out there—Google, FedEx and Victoria’s Secret—all started small. And staying small can be good too. Big is not best for everyone. No matter what size success you want, or what scale you want your dream to be, taking the above actions will add value and benefits to your business.
About the author: Karen Post, a.k.a. The Branding Diva® is an international authority on branding, marketing, and entrepreneurial matters. She has been featured as a business expert in print publications; on TV, radio, and on Web channels. Karen authored the best-selling book Brain Tattoos Creating Unique Brands That Stick in your Customers’ Minds and she is co-founder and CEO of Oddpodz.com.