This shocking statistic was shared with me during a recent job interview. Besides the fact that I was floored, a deep gloom came over me.
I blinked in disbelief. What do you mean 95% of business fail within the first 2 years? It can't be!
Is it worth it? Is building a brand or dream even feasible with odds like this?
You may be reluctant to admit it but as a small business owner, I have sometimes felt ashamed of my startup's size. I've beat myself up for not having the best packaging, the best manufacturing process or the best of anything really. I tend to get caught up in doing the next big thing that will blow the socks off of my family, friends and colleagues. Oh, and yes, I've found myself slowly becoming obsessed with how many likes, views and clicks I get from my websites and social media platforms.
Not to say that tracking analytics, growing and achieving sales are bad things. After all, those are practices a business needs to survive! However, too often we entrepreneurs become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. And one crucial part we gloss over is the beauty of being small.
Yup, I said it - there is beauty in being small! We need to look beyond the popular statistics like "small businesses make up 99.7% of U.S. employer firms" and really grasp the other benefits of owning and managing a small company.
(1) You're blessed to be able to build your dream. Seriously, how many people do you know who have thought of an idea and have actually put it into action?? I guarantee not many! Or how many people in other countries are able to start a business easily? Again, not many. In some third-world countries - like my lovely home, Barbados - it can take thousands of dollars to start a company. In Communist countries like Cuba and China, the government closely controls the internet and you may not even be given permission to start a website, a blog or use social media. Don't take for granted the access you have to pursue your dream. It's a privilege not afforded to many.
(2) Be thankful for your tiny audience. This was an eye-opener for me, thanks to Kimberly Jimenez, one of my favorite social media consultants. In a recent article, she shared that no one need be ashamed of their small numbers but rather be grateful for the people who have chosen to pay attention to us out of all the options in the world. The challenge here is "to remember that your followers are actual people (not numbers)." That should shift your perspective quite a bit! And let's not forget the feeling of family you get to cultivate with your internal and external stakeholders. It's a priceless and definite advantage you have as a small business over a large company.
(3) You get to offer personalized service. Think about it. You get to interact with every customer you have and control the brand experience they have! Not to mention that you have an intimate knowledge of your customers' needs and wants. You understand how they think, how they speak, what they value and what problems they face. And guess, you have access to all that without paying for it! Large corporations don't have that advantage even with all the manpower and finances they have available.
(4) Mistakes don't become catastrophic. How many times have you had a typo on your website copy or you've sent the wrong email to the wrong person? How many times have you become so overwhelmed with life that you fall behind on projects? Or try to remember a major boo-boo you made as a business. How well would you have recovered if you were a large corporation? I'm not an advocate of being proud of major mistakes like being late on submissions but we should be glad that we have the ability to bounce back so rapidly without losing a mass amount of customers or being forever disgraces in the public eye. For example, remember BP and the oil spill? They have spent billions to salvage their company's image since that incident.
(5) You can be highly adaptive and innovative. We all know change is inevitable but, according to Sonya Teclai, we also know that progression is a choice. Needless to say, small businesses can make necessary changes seamlessly. You, the business owner, don't need endless meetings and approvals to adapt to your industry or to develop new ideas. What's even better is that you get to unlock new value and distinguish yourself as a leader. Don't believe me? Take a minute to reference your knowledge of Facebook and Apple. One started in a dorm room and the other in a garage yet both saw a need for products and services that didn't even exist yet, and eluded the eyes of major corporations.
Now do you see the beauty of being small that I referred too earlier?