Still Small Giants – The Guys on Bo Burlingham
A Conversation with Bo Burlingham
Growth. That’s the goal in many businesses. It’s a word that characterizes the wildest dreams of budding entrepreneurs. Get started, get big, get rich, change the world, and live happily ever after. For already large companies, it becomes a means of survival as new start-ups and foreign competition press margins downward.
The Guys explore the nuances of the small giants Bo Burlingham discusses in his book, Small Giants. Small companies can do amazingly well if they navigate the waters well, avoiding the pitfalls and capitalizing on their key assets. How do that do that and what are their key assets? Listen in to Ray and Zen and find out. They talk about how small companies are still small giants and what that means for small business owners.
All companies have the choice of focusing on three core values in their businesses: best price, best product or best solution. Each value requires a different type of business model. Usually, small giant companies are built around providing the best solutions. A key part of that model is exceptional customer service.
- “Small giants” are excellent companies whose leaders decide against expansion, in the belief that size would detract from fulfilling their goals.
- These companies are consistently profitable, yet they consciously resist convention by staying small and great, instead of becoming large and risking mediocrity.
- The founders of small giants refuse to compromise the quality of their business.
- These companies include Anchor Brewing, CitiStorage, Clif Bar, Inc., Righteous Babe Records, Reel Precision Manufacturing and Zingerman’s deli-based group.
- Companies chose among three core values: best price, best product or best solution.
- Small giant companies embrace local traditions, community customs, and tight relationships with their suppliers and customers.
- Small giant CEOs, especially those who are men, admit being tempted, sometimes unrealistically, to expand their businesses.
- Companies are often forced to sell because they cannot finance expansion.
- Most small giant CEOs decided against buying other businesses because of the complexities of merging corporate cultures.
- The more successful a business gets, the harder it is for the owner to focus.
Ray and Zen go further into the depths of these indicators and discuss how some of the small businesses Ray works with in his Peer Advisory Groups have dealt with their challenges. You’ll glean some salient points for your own business from the conversation.
All companies have the choice of focusing on three core values in their businesses: best price, best product or best solution. Each value requires a different type of business model. Usually, small giant companies are built around providing the best solutions. A key part of that model is exceptional customer service. These companies demonstrate that:
“A great company needs to have great people working for it, but you can’t attract them, let alone hold on to them, unless they have room to grow.”
- You can choose your own path.
- You can select a governance structure that fits your relationship with your people.
- You can remain unique and distinctive.
- You can maintain your ties to your community.
- You can nurture the connections between your company and its stakeholders, including employees, customers and suppliers.
- You can find a field that engages you and create a product you find exciting