What if you don't scale?
There’s a common goal for most companies - grow and scale. In fact, the common advice is not to get into the industries where you can’t scale your business. This is good advice for some people - but maybe not for others. I think there’s room for companies who can choose not to scale. What if you choose to be small? What if you choose to be the right size?
You can continue to hone your craft
Instead of constantly chasing the latest and greatest you can continue to refine what makes your business work in the first place. You don’t need to create products that will yield higher volume to meet last years targets. You don’t need to create products that have higher margins to offset higher volume products. You can focus and refine and refine.
You can be more in touch with your customers
When you’re small, you’re approachable. More of your team knows the ins and outs. Everyone is invested. Everyone will want success. You can hire great and keep those who do well. You can grow by being small. And the customer benefits. When the customer benefits - he tells another. The cycle restarts.
You don’t have to commoditize
When you stay small - you can be niche. You can continue to service the narrow market that made you successful. You don’t have to change your product to fit a larger portion of the market. When you commoditize - you get less special, you get more boring and you eventually have to get cheaper. When you stay small you can focus on making your product what it should be for the customer who wants to have it. With time it can get better and more unique, more remarkable.
You can be nimble
Deep organizations with a lot of layers tend to get paralyzed. There are tricks around this problem, sure. But, why not avoid it altogether? When your team is small you can make choices quickly. You can move faster, test faster, connect faster and be better faster. Being nimble will be crucial in the future. The old slow conglomerate is going away - small will be the new big.
You can explore new paths
With a smaller overhead and ability to take risks, you can explore new things quickly. You don’t need to mobilize a large part of the company to explore a new idea - you can do it slowly and you can do it small. Your risks are small and big at the same time. You’re forced to be smarter, faster and better.
You can be oversubscribed
If your capacity is to produce 10 hand built bikes a month and you have 30 people knocking on your door every month - it’s a good problem to have. Sure you might not service the 20 customers right away, but they will still be there. They will want your bike even more. Vanilla has a 5 year waiting list for a custom bike. Bloodroot Blades current waiting list is 43 months and growing. Being oversubscribed is like an insurance policy. Yes, you can hire more staff and get those people what they want earlier - but then it won’t be special. It won’t be rare and it won’t be remarkable.
Staying small can make you big in a different way. It can make your business successful in the long run and it can make your product absolutely desirable. Scaling isn’t always the answer. Sometimes being small is better.
Dmitry N. Rusakov
This series of content is a small experiment. I pledged to create a piece of content on my site for the next 365 days. You can read the opening post here. The posts aren’t limited to thoughts or ideas, they’re really just a way for me to create original content. If you got any feedback/questions, please reach out. Thanks for looking.