We have all heard it said that small business is the backbone of the economy, and we all seem to know that is true. The exact definition for small business is not so clear, but what is clear is that most businesses are small by that allusive definition.
It is a bit of an irony that some business owners try to project the idea that they are bigger than they really are. As much as we might say bigger is not better, our attitudes and actions will determine whether we really believe that or not.
There is strength in being small once you discover how to harness your energy.
The idea of comparing the size of a business, to the size and power of a boat, provides an excellent analogy. A cruise ship may withstand storms and high waves much better than a small yacht, but it is not very maneuverable. A speedboat can go places a ship could never attempt. It is faster, agile, and can turn quickly to avoid danger.
These comparisons are no surprise. Most people seem to realize these differences, but contemplating them well enough to seize their potential is what separates the weak from the strong. The small athlete, who could easily be crushed by bigger competitors, can still win by dodging them and outrunning them.
For small business owners to adapt the same thinking as big business can easily bring disaster. You have the advantage if you think differently. Business models are changing fast, and a small agile company can adapt more quickly. There are big companies teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Some of them are so steeped in outdated business practices, that they cannot adapt quickly enough to avoid hitting the iceberg.
While big corporations may have an advantage in marketing budget and buying power, small businesses are usually better at having substance. They can respond to their customers and provide more personalized service. They can specialize and prosper in a smaller niche market that would be impractical for a bigger company.
It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, for a big company to operate as efficiently as a small business. With small business, efficiency is not optional. Wasted resources can easily ruin a small business. Because efficiency is so necessary, small businesses tend to be much more productive.
Small businesses can also easily implement methods to increase their efficiency. Advances in areas such as lean manufacturing, modular tooling and work cells, automation, communication, and information technology help level the playing field for small business. With video conferencing and the Internet, collaboration can be accomplished without expensive travel.
In spite of the challenges, the opportunities for small business have never been better.