Time To Think Small


By Phil Harwood

It’s human nature to want to think big. Going big has been reinforced throughout our lives. Everywhere we turn we’re told to “Go for the gold, Carpe diem, Go big or go home.” So it’s counterintuitive to consider that it might be time to think small. 

I think we can all agree that the workforce participation rate is not going to improve as the population continues to get older and a greater percentage of the population is not able to work or is not interested in working. Companies no longer have the luxury of being able to quickly add staff as needed to meet increased demand. The days of “sell the work and figure out how to get the work done later” may be over.

Because of this reality, business growth that depends on more people is going to be restricted and a greater emphasis is going to be placed on smart growth strategies that involve fewer people, more technology, and, perhaps, more of a focus on core, essential business operations versus trying to be everything to everyone. 

Many businesses today offer an abundance of services to many different customer segments. This diversified approach may have made sense in another era but it makes less sense today when the talent pool is shrinking. The strategy of expanding services, market segments, and geographic reach may not be the smartest strategy. A better strategy may be to refocus on the core business, get lean, and become super productive and profitable with a smaller scope. 

This is a question of strategy, of course. The decision to “go small” is actually  a big decision. It involves giving up things, saying no, and staying focused. Most business owners don’t like to give up anything, say no to anything, or stay focused on anything for more than five minutes. I understand. That’s why I said this is a big decision. 

On the other hand, if going small allows your business to become a leader in a niche market, you just may find that your business will grow even more quickly than before. There are many examples of businesses that are experiencing insane growth because they discovered a vein and that vein took them somewhere amazing. I don’t see too many examples of businesses with insane growth that are attempting to do everything for everyone. 

As you’re planning your fall strategic planning retreat, don’t be afraid to talk about going small. I know it goes against your very nature, but when you consider the alternatives, you might conclude that it’s the smartest strategy to employ. 

Now go forth. 

Tags: Small , Smart Growth Strategies , Core Business ,