Nothing Wrong With Being Small

There is an adage in business that states, “If you are not growing, you’re dying.”  Thus, the underlying concept is you have to be big to succeed.  While being “big” may work in a variety of industries, many in the printing industry (today and future) need to think about being nimble – and that often means you have to be “small.”

Of course, that leads to the question of what is “small?”  The Small Business Administration defines a small company having less than 500 employees, which is practically 98% of the printing industry.  I’m thinking of small being a company with less than 25 employees. Why 25?  There are a lot of reasons, including that multitude of state and federal mandates affecting businesses with more than 25, but it’s about management and technology.

Whether we like it or not, technology will continue to affect print (visual communications) and how it’s distributed and used throughout the rest of this decade.  The strategy of buying “bigger” presses to grow a business is no longer a viable one.  That may have worked in the days of growing mass printed communications, but that market is shrinking, and there is too much capacity in the market.  All one has to do is look around in today’s landscape and you’ll note that the companies which are struggling have a lot of iron on their floor, while those that are succeeding have focused on the newer technologies and expanded the types of services/products they produce.  And that brings me to the management issue.

Managing a larger company has always been tough – but with today’s massive media changes and more and more state and federal mandates – the road is littered with obstacles.  Larger companies can succeed, but they must have extraordinary vision and management skills.  While managing a small company isn’t a piece of cake, managing its future is much simpler.  There are no shareholders or stakeholders (management team, sales team, bankers) which have a discernible effect on the company’s direction.  Yes, there are stakeholders (key customers and employees), but those stakeholders tend to have more loyalty (relatively speaking) and commitment to the success of the company.

So, next time a talking head says that the only way to succeed is to grow “bigger,” give consideration to the concept that there’s nothing wrong with being small and as Goldilocks said that could be “just right.”


One thought on “Nothing Wrong With Being Small

  1. I’ve tried hard to peer in to the crystal ball of the future for print. I think you’re probably right concerning small firms, although the economies of scale found in a few big print firms will make sense. I do believe that the phenomenon of “continue to grow or die” will be replaced with “continue changing or die”. I think the phenomenon was already well in place as far back as 2000.

    There’s only successful way to cross thin ice: FAST!

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