This article outlines several reasons why staying small can benefit not only the business itself, but also its customers. Smaller businesses have more efficient communication, higher quality service, active CEOs, quicker reaction time, greater income, greater project variety, and lower operating costs. A smaller size allows businesses to research and build relationships with customers without interfering with the efficiency of the business.
For the most part, when I tell a client that our small, successful branding and design firm has no plans to become a large firm with several branches, the response has been one of surprise and disbelief.
As I watch their eyes glaze over, I do empathize with them. After all, as business owners we’ve all felt the pressure to stand out from the crowd of ever-increasing competition, and one of the ways we’ve been taught to do this is through increased revenue and more employees.
We’ve all been taught that bigger is better. But for those of you that are on the fence about whether your business should stay small, or whether it should take that giant leap forward towards global dominance, a bigger storefront, and possibly being deeper in debt, here are a few reasons why our firm decided that for us, smaller is better.
1. Quick response time
For one thing, our clients have told us that they appreciate the level of responsiveness a small firm can deliver. Our business is able to operate with just one level of leadership. This single degree of separation means that communication between us and our clients is efficient and non-repetitive. Being able to deal with the principal persons involved tends to greatly reduce wasted energy for all parties working on a project.
2. The smaller project goes to the new guy
Having their project handled by a junior consultant or designer just because the clients’ smaller budget didn’t justify someone more experienced is another complaint we hear from clients of larger firms. This scenario unfortunately takes place more often than not, and often leads to problems that vary from the incorrect sizing of images, to the wrong information being communicated, and even bad design layouts or poorly planned strategies. These are unnecessary obstacles to a successful project, and will wreak havoc on brand confidence. In smaller businesses, people follow through — they don’t pass off the work to more junior employees, because there aren’t any.
3. Having more control
Being small also allows me to be more involved with my firm’s business: from the press releases, to brand development, to industry research, to the handling of a specific project, to writing articles. Working in a smaller business also means that the client doesn’t have to fight with so many layers of approval for tasks large and small. The late night revisions are easier to bear.
4. Planning ahead
Our firm believes in being proactive, which is to say that we strive to anticipate problems in a project before they arise. If an unforeseen problem is able to slip by, being smaller allows us to react quickly. More time is also available for research and meeting with the clients. The ability to be constantly available is a greatly appreciated asset that our firm is able to offer all our clients because we are smaller.
5. Smaller is not poorer
Being smaller doesn’t mean we’re poorer. Because we are able to react quickly to problems, we have more time for research, brainstorming, and planning; that we’re capable of meetings with clients more often, and are willing to work through several revisions. As a result, it’s also very easy for us to be able to demonstrate what we’re worth. This often equates to being paid well, and just as important (if not more), means being paid on time.
6. Variety is the spice of life
Being able to work on a variety of projects is another perk to working in a small firm. The ability to be more selective among clients, and to choose between the projects they have to offer, as opposed to having to accept work simply because of its price tag, entails a level of freedom that working in a larger firm does not. As a result, you never know what you’ll be working on next. Getting "burned out" because your business does the same type of projects from season to season because they’re "bread and butter" clients, can be extremely taxing to a business’ creative process.
7. I get to play
With fewer staff comes a lower overhead. A lower overhead means more money for our firm to keep up with current technology, help develop best practices within our industry, stay in touch with past and current clients, and best of all, pay ourselves more.
My last point is simple. As a fellow designer once said: "because I work for a small design firm, I actually get to design".
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