Too Small to Succeed?

Categories: Management

By Dan Merkel | March 5, 2018 << Back to Articles Too Small to Succeed?

Often we read about the notion that there are companies considered too big to fail. But let’s consider the reverse condition and take a serious look at the situation within our industry with regard to success and survival relative to a company’s size.

Put simply, the underlying question is: “Does size matter?” In general terms, the rejoinder is assuredly “yes.” However, the matter is complex as smaller businesses offer a host of fascinating dimensions worth exploring.

As is frequently stated, one man’s success is another’s subjective failure. While failure tends to be universally understood, success may always rest in the eyes of the beholder. In a business career that spans more than 48 years, my experience indicates that the limits of a smaller company rest substantially―if not solely―on the owner. Many entrepreneurs tend not to fully embrace or truly comprehend that burden or reality.

Consider that almost by definition, smaller entrepreneurial companies are about”I”; what “I” can do rather than what “we” can do. The management burden usually rests with just one person despite the possible presence of double-digit numbers of employees functioning within the organization. Needless to say, many such companies succeed over a good number of years.

For example, many smaller business operators focus on sales exclusively. These smaller firms seemingly avoid or lack the needed know-how to design a true strategic structure and other basics for their business. This glaring void or breakdown in the fundamentals of business governance is compounded by many smaller operators’ tendency to refuse outside council and assistance. And yet, some of these businesses achieve a surprising level of success. This begs the question of defining what succeeding is really all about.

The constant challenge for all businesses, regardless of size, is to control and manage the operation with a broad array of skill sets and organizational structure that afford a range of methodologies providing goals, information, and sales and marketing.

The answer to the question posed in the title of this article may rest in a very surprising place. Many, if not most, entrepreneurial types have an innate, intuitive process at work for them that includes elements of pure genius. It likely resides in their subconscious modus operandi that evokes its influence in random but frequent ways. Therefore, the laundry list of growth possibilities such as facility expansion, geographic expansion, channel expansion, personnel expansion, and acquisitions are typically side-stepped or totally ignored. Maintaining status quo―or knowing one’s limitations― sums up the subconscious control applied over and over again by countless smaller business operators.

Thus, each owner/operator defines success―and probably survival―on his or her own terms. And why not?!

About the Author.

Dan Merkel is the former president and CEO of The Butcher Co. Merkel also served as President of the ISSA Board of Directors in 1980-1981. Now an industry consultant, Merkel can be contacted at [email protected].