And why that’s a good thing!
Just like a bicycle built for one doesn’t usually grow into a bicycle built for two, there is not a linear continuum from small company to big company like there is from little kid to big adult. It doesn’t work that way.
Why? Because the business model has an external component: customers. And if you hadn’t noticed, they have a mind of their own. It’s been said, the things you can’t change include the weather and other people. The things you can change include yourself and the oil in your truck.
But the truth is, if your burrito sales max out at lunch time because there just aren’t enough people in driving distance who want your burritos, then making more of them faster, or adding more chairs or a bigger sign won’t conjure up any more sales. Now if the bottle neck is chairs, or how fast you can roll a burrito, then that’s an internal problem and you can fix it.
But if you’ve maxed out the external aspect of your business model, you just can’t grow it any bigger without changing the model. Opening another store to become a chain or selling online would change your model and allow for more growth. But without changing your model, the company won’t grow in size – but it can grow in profit.
Why is this a good thing?
The silver lining is that most really big business models REQUIRE size. They can’t survive at all when they’re tiny. They need life support (in the form of outside investment). And they need to grow really fast. Because of that, competition can often do a lot more harm to a company with a business model that requires growth.
As Ridgely Evers said “A Silicon Valley start-up is completely focused on getting big, and naturally risks failure to get there. A true small business, on the other hand, is focused on becoming profitable, feeding a family, and staying in business. That’s a fundamental psychographic and cultural difference.”
I’ve often said you need to do three things to have your company succeed.
As I was thinking about Evers’ quote, it occurred to me that people who run small companies focus more on number one and two than they do on number three. While big companies put a lot of focus on number three.
The problem is not that small companies don’t grow into large ones – the problem is that if you ignore point number three, your company is not as successful as it could be regardless of its size.
The better you build your organization the more profitable and less frustrating it will become. Building an organization is the true job of a CEO.