Too Small to Fail

big-vs-small-smallSize matters. No, we’re not going there. We have all seen many companies start from humble beginnings and grow over time to become some of the world’s largest and most successful organizations. Regardless of sector, companies that are able to grow and scale quickly, especially those who gain traction in areas as diverse as new technologies and unique service niches, may not only benefit from a first mover advantage but also now represent intimidating barriers to entry.

But even the largest companies may fall victim to the complexities that somehow seem to accompany growth and expansion. And a company with laser focus on its mission yet unable to pivot when new market opportunities knock may suddenly see it’s market share erode, only to observe the growth of new competitors who have been more nimble in identifying and exploiting emerging market trends. Lingering memories of the recent great recession include the haunting refrain of financial institutions thought “too big to fail.” And then when the first one does fail, it shakes the very underpinnings of markets around the globe. Suddenly an entire economy becomes a house of cards.

As entrepreneurs, we clearly understand that a startup is definitely not just a small version of the larger company we hope to one day become – not by a long shot. We kid amongst ourselves as we share our company org charts with friends and other entrepreneurs and chuckle as every box for every department has the same name – ours! And we look for that market opportunity no one else has yet attacked, a breakthrough product or service that is the perfect solution for our customers needs. When we can profitably produce products and services that customers want and respond to both current market needs and new opportunities, we may find ourselves on a successful and sustainable path. There is just no way to adequately describe that feeling.

But sometimes along the way our young startup may be faced with all sorts of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, costly errors that jeopardize our financial survival, new and powerful competitors that threaten our existence, the realization of the coming zombie apocalypse. OK, maybe not that last one… And we may start to feel that our small size, inadequate bank account and lack of substantial resource infrastructure leaves us vulnerable on too many fronts. In some cases that may all be quite true. But we have the one thing our mammoth competitors don’t have. We have an incredible asset – a secret weapon we can unleash in the blink of an eye. We are too small to fail. We can change course and pounce of a new opportunity quicker that you can say “pivot”. And while our limited monetary assets may only seem like a liability, we also have less at risk than the big guys, and are therefore able to make quick decisions and capitalize on those opportunities larger companies may have overlooked, or simply have chosen to ignore.

Size matters. But with a startup, sometimes good things come in small packages.

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