Size and Creating Movement
The heavier an object is, the harder it is to move. Try kicking a football versus kicking a boulder and you’ll see for yourself.
What does this mean? If your business is big, creating new movement is damn tough. You have to get approval from management, have endless meetings, deal with mind-numbing bureaucracy and win over plenty of naysayers. It’s draining, and it’s not even energy spent on creating movement, its energy spent on getting free from the shackles. It disperses through the company in the form of getting approval, therefore requiring more energy to actually implement the change you have requested. The bigger the company, the more force you need to create new movement.
On the other hand, small is nimble, small is beautiful, and small is agile.
With a little force, small can make big movements. Small is devoid of energy sapping meetings. With small, everyone gets involved, giving your project a bigger push. Small has less room for energy dispersal – it can’t hide in bureaucracy, in meetings, in management or in delegation. Small is concentrated, small is powerful.
So before you go rushing to make things as big as possible as quickly as possible, remember that when you are small you can be in the realm of creation with just a little force. You won’t get that with big, so revel in small for a while first. Create amazing products or services. Be bold and make changes. Learn from feedback and reposition fast. Get all of this right before you get to big.
Size and Stopping, Size And Change
The heavier an object is, the harder it is to stop moving or change its direction. You can stop your 3 year old cousin running into you easily. But imagine a bear charging at you. Are you going to stop that? Hell no! It’s huge, hungry and angry! If your 3 year old cousin is in danger of walking in the road, you pick her up and change her direction. If a bear is in danger of walking in the road, it doesn't matter if you’re Rocky Balboa, you aren't going to move him! It’s the same with business. If a large business has momentum, it’s hard to make a change in another direction. They have to hit quarterly profit targets, meet shareholder expectations, and maintain a consistent image. As a consequence, they become risk averse and resistant to change. Even if they want to make it change, it takes more energy - all the meetings, re-training of staff, restructuring of teams, getting the right message to the media and so on.
With a small company, you can change direction fast. There is less to move! If you need to pivot on a new product, you can. If you want to train staff in a particular skill, you can do it fast. You have no shareholders to please, fewer constraints and therefore more freedom to test ideas.
So remember, when you are small, it’s easier to get started on something new. It’s easier to make changes to existing practices. It’s easier to innovate, test, learn and change. Remain in small and get things right before moving to big. Or stay in small and stay nimble; big is not a requirement.
What are your experiences of big versus small? The benefits of scale and the challenges of bureaucracy? The benefits of agility and the challenges of lack of scale? It would be great to hear your stories.