A small business love song
Independence. That’s why a majority of employees strike out on their own. Or so says a recent US survey put out by that country’s labour department. According to the survey there are more than 15 million self-employed people in America with independents representing one of the fastest growing sectors in that economy.
There is something glorious about being in charge of a small independent firm. The downfall is that sometimes the size of a small firm can preclude its effective exploitation of new markets; the advantage comes from knowing that your size allows for energetic experimentation.
Consider the growth of Elaine Singh, owner of a copywriting agency, “I believe that the reason for my success is that I have been able to align myself with some of the biggest advertising agencies in the business and created a win/win situation for us both,” said Singh. The 37-year-old is able to offer her specialised skills for a very reasonable price, the larger agencies embrace her because they can lower their employment and wage bill by cutting back on their health care, pension and other responsibilities.
Because of her firm’s size- Singh has one full time assistant and a part time accountant- she is able to continuously reinvent herself. She recently added photography and design to her list of services by forming strategic partnerships with other small firms. Singh is a believer in reinvention as the key to entrepreneurial success. “Reinvention is not about changing what is, but about creating what isn’t.” At the heart of Singh’s statement is perhaps a realisation that small companies in the new era need not be around forever and what matters most is the burst they may have in values creation rather than any dramatic claim of being around for 100 years.
Perhaps this may be the fundamental difference between the new enterprise and the old. Between the old firm and the new. The old enterprise viewed permanence as good. And set up vast building with glossy atriums to prove it. The glossier the atrium, well, the better the business. Atrium envy ruled. In the new enterprise there is no such envy because there are no such buildings. People are connected in wired quadrants that allows them to communicate, work and mange themselves in offices without walls and borderless communities. The size of the atrium is irrelevant, how high the mind can soar and what it can create in a short period of time are the determining factors.
In the new enterprise entrepreneurs like Singh recognise the need for a new reality, which does not surround exclusive bottom line issues. “If I focus on the bottom line and profits only I won’t be happy, instead I look around at other small business models and I would like to emulate those that place emphasis on their human community. Profits are vital but so too is the connectivity and the network.”
There are thousands like Singh running small firms, forming strategic alliances and setting their own strategies on how to function in the corporate world. There is no other alternative for Singh. “The idea of being a salaried worker in an organisation is unpalatable for me. There is just something about working for myself; I really, truly do love what I do.”