The argument for staying small; three reasons to stay as you are

- June 24, 2022 3 MIN READ

Start up. Scale Up. Go hard. Hustle. Get bigger. Take over the world. When you’re a small business, the question you probably get asked a lot is what are your growth plans, how will you get bigger and grow your empire. It’s like being small is not good enough, and you are only legit if you employ dozens of people and turn over millions.

You only need to open a news media site to see the stories that spruik the laudable successes of people turning millions in zero minus 10 seconds. It’s enough to make the small business owner feel inadequate.

But is bigger best? Is the size of your business a true indicator of success? Can you still have profitable and fruitful business by staying small?

Small and mighty

For Krys Charalambous, founder of Modella Clothing, the idea of growing bigger is not appealing to her. After juggling a corporate marketing career and clothing business side gig, Krys jumped in full time a couple of years ago and decided she had no interest in being the biggest clothing brand. She just wanted to focus on delivering big for her customers.

“There is so much pressure on small businesses to go to the next level. While having a big business comes with its perks, it also comes with a lot of downsides. After spending my career in the corporate world, I no longer want to be part of big business,” Krys said.

“Remaining small shouldn’t have negative connotations attached, because small can be mighty and powerful.”

There are many reasons to get bigger – bigger turnover, more customers, more attention – but it comes with its pitfalls. Krys said focusing on growth can distract from what’s important in business. “Ok, we are in business to make money, that is true, but if that is our only indicator of success, we are missing the intangible things that also matter,” she said.

“Like giving good old-fashioned service where the customer is really at the centre of the business. What we should be talking about is sustainability; about how to build a business here for the long term.”

The cost of scaling

While many have grandiose ideas of world dominance with their business, it can cost – burnout, overwhelm, high tax threshold, losing track of finances and customer service, cash flow issues and hiring the wrong people.

When Krys left her corporate career to focus full time on Modella, she reflected on the pros and cons of growing the business bigger. And found her appetite for growth wasn’t there. All she wants is to provide excellent customer services, sell great products, and remain connected with her business.

“I came up with five reasons why staying small is more beneficial for me, my family and my customers,” Krys said. “While it would be marvellous to take on the big online fashion outlets, I want to remain closely connected with my business, the products and the people who buy from me. I can’t do that if I chase staff or put out operational fires.”

Krys says the number one reason to stay small is sustainability. “By staying small and growing slower, I can be more measured about the risks I take. Going hard and fast is exciting, but there are more opportunities to break things…and I don’t want to be in that roller coaster cycle of highs and lows,” she said.

“Then there is lifestyle. I love my business, I love my customers. Their loyalty to Modella makes my heart sing. But I also want balance in my life. And the time to spend with family and friends. Growing a big business means time away from the people I love. Having a business of one, with some help here and there, means I not only have a prosperous business, but also meaningful relationships.

“Last but not least, I can grow my revenue by launching a new range of promotions, and when money comes into my business, I don’t have to distribute it to anyone else – no shareholders or directors. I pay the people who assist me, and I can pour profits back into Modella to help me grow slowly. I also don’t have to contend with the trappings that come with growth – the overheads and expenses.”

Staying small doesn’t mean anti-growth; it just means you are growing on your terms, that suits your lifestyle and future goals.

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