Think Big, Act Small

Back in February, I attended the annual FocalPoint Conference. It was four days of passion, inspiration and ideas, all led by my fellow coaches from around the world. Nick Mariniello, a FocalPoint Coach out of New Jersey, outlined the vision for our organization’s growth plan in five key phrases:

  1. Think like a Big Company, act like a Small Business
  2. Expand the brand
  3. Packaging is key
  4. Many hands make light work
  5. Anything is possible, everything is not

This blog series looks at each phrase, and how they can positively impact your career and business….

Think like a big company, act like a small business. We are too often quick to judge large companies as evil corporations that are the scourge of business, while championing small business as the backbone of our country. On the flip side, many view entrepreneurial enterprises as pie in the sky ventures doomed to fail because they do not have the tried and true experience of the General Motors’ of the world. The truth, as it so often does, lies somewhere in the middle. Large companies and small businesses do many different things amazingly well, and both sides have their inherent weaknesses; smart business owners and leaders would be wise to emulate the positives of both sides.

Big companies know how to set goals, and they know how to build plans to achieve them. Corporations always know what the important numbers and benchmarks are, and they know where the numbers look like at any given moment. They understand the importance of Vision and Mission, they can articulate their Core Values, and they can explain the strategy and tactics necessary to live out those values. Employees at large companies knows their roles, and how those roles help achieve the Mission and Vision. They understand, and utilize, the power of leverage. Most importantly, they have a tried and true process and system for everything; growth and scale come from systematization and efficiency, and large organizations recognize its importance.

Small companies operate differently. They are exciting. They are founded out of, and run on the power of, passion. Oftentimes, this passion results in amazing teamwork and camaraderie among employees; there is a sense of everyone being “in it together.” Small companies have the ability, and the mindset, to test and measure, and then to quickly, adjust, pivot or even abandon ideas altogether if they prove ineffective. Cashflow is often of paramount importance, and because of that mistakes and poor decisions cannot be allowed to continue for long. Change is constant, necessary, and often what keeps small businesses going. All these combine into a feeling of almost limitless ideas and opportunity.

When implemented correctly, the good of one side will complement or offset the bad of the other. Setting goals and striving to reach them adds structure to the sometimes haphazard approach of entrepreneurial companies, and a willingness to quickly adjust or abandon those goals if they prove to be the wrong direction can lead to tremendous growth. Agility and the ability to change can eliminate burdensome policy while embracing best practices and systems that generate results. Embracing a team atmosphere while at the same time setting clear parameters around employees’ expectations will empower the staff and allow them to focus their energies on what they do best.

As you build your business, as you think about what you want to accomplish and how you want to do it, take a look at what the Fortune 500 companies and the Inc. 500 companies do best. Note what the blue chips have done to get where they are, and what the up and comers are doing to generate incredible results and growth. Model the best practices and best ideas, and see where they take your business.


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