LearnYou need to be bigger!


writes on September 21, 2007

I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this poster at the airport in Copenhagen:

That’s the myth, isn’t it? Bigger is better, therefore every company should be bigger. Bullshit. Maybe if more companies stayed small and focused on quality, instead of revenue growth, the world would be a better place.

By the way, if you own a business and you can only read one book this year, make sure to pick up a copy of Small Giants: Companies that Choose to be Great Instead of Big

P.S. Before I get torn to pieces in the comments, let me say this: I understand that certain companies need to be big in order to function. Visa is a good example: the more places it’s accepted (which means they need to be bigger to support the business), the better.


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10 Responses to “You need to be bigger!”

  1. I agree small is better as they are the one who deliver the quality then when it choose to go bigger it start diverting from the quality focus to quantity(in terms of clients and product).Also they don’t need very skilled professionals then, recruiting also becomes a number game.How ever i think that a company can be big by staying smaller,the idea is when ever a company start growing it should divide itself in to smaller parts so that the quality remains at par.Off-course this might not hold true for all kind of trades as mention in visa’a example.

  2. Whilst I think ‘smaller is better’ is just as much of an overgeneralization as ‘bigger is better’, there is definitely some truth in the fact that large groups function less well; studies into evolutionary psychology find that the maximal group size that can function well is around 150 people (e.g. a study by Hill and Dunbar 2003). Too many people and the system becomes disorganized and cannot communicate efficiently.

  3. @Jake Liddell

    It’s no doubt harder to be big and high quality than it is to remain small and high quality.

    I disagree. The hard part is deciding not to grow, even though you could. We’re planning to reach about 20 people as a company. Then that’s it.

    The hard decision will be to stay that small. Anyone can grow bigger.

  4. I think “small is best” over-simplifies the issue.

    It’s no doubt harder to be big and high quality than it is to remain small and high quality. Maybe this is why so many large companies lose their personality, their culture, and their focus.

    Yet, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t set ourselves the challenge of growth without losing our pride in our work. It’s not impossible – it’s just difficult. But let’s not let that stop us, eh?!

    On the opposite side of the coin, if you’re making 10% margin while turning over x, and you manage to keep your quality high as you grow to 100x, you can look forward to lots more profit… which has got to be a worthwhile end result, whether you choose to pocket it, spend it on new projects, feed it back into improving the product, spit it with the team, or donate it to good causes…

    Of course, the job you end up doing when you’re running a 100x company might not be your cup of tea. So, either find someone who does want to do it, or throttle the growth consciously – but that’s a nice choice to have to make!

  5. I think a lot of small businesses make the mistake of growing too fast, which causes a lot of problems both in quality of work, as well as infrastructure.

    I think businesses should be prepared to turn down work so that their quality stays high. Just my two cents.

  6. Remaining small is a luxury. Nice if you can do it, but most businesses either require or benefit from increased size. Just the way of the world.

  7. Companies would be far better smaller and more focused. There’s proof all around us that this is true. Look back at the days of shop owners, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers and see a better business world where it was about skilled people doing specialised work and doing it well. There’s a lot we can learn from the past before we go bounding on into the future.

  8. Ouebslave on September 21, 2007 at 5:57 am said:

    The man with the hat is sooooo good. Keep the hat on!

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