In our consumer culture “Bigger is better” is a common philosophy that challenges us to want more, bigger, better all the time.
Yet, I like small things. I drive a small car. It fits in small parking spaces and uses less gas. I have a small dog. He’s easier for me to manage, because in the scale of people, I am also small to medium-sized.
My business is small. For the past few years I was self conscious about this, yet also committed to it. I have brilliant entrepreneurial friends who aspire to have a large staff, an office with their company logo outside the building and acclaim for being great at what they do. I have watched these businesses grow, and follow their social media feeds that show their success and fun times with their employees. I am happy for them!
While I confess to being a jealous person in many ways, being happy for the success of others has not translated into jealousy or a desire to grow my own business. I have heard tales of cash flow problems, sleepless nights worrying about how to make payroll, huge clients who cancel contracts and months where the owners could not pay themselves. These are the stories people tell after they “make it big” to show that they weathered the hard times and demonstrate their success. They would probably say it was worth it to go through these struggles.
Perhaps I am not patient enough, or started my business too late in life to be willing to go through those hard times. I prefer to have a low overhead, higher profit margin and a manageable workload that I can handle myself with a couple of part time contractors if needed. Unlike many small businesses, whose goal is usually expansion or growth to hit peak profitability, I prefer to focus on what “growth” means.
To me, growth means becoming a better person and living my best life. This may mean saying no to “big” opportunities in favor of small projects that allow me to focus on other things that are important to me, or serving my clients, family and friends better because I am happy and not stressed out.
I recently read “Company of One” by Paul Jarvis and it was so validating to read a philosophy that is in line with my way of thinking. The premise of the book is “start small, define growth, and keep learning.” Company of One questions growth and values staying small intentionally.
Taking the time to think about what is important to me was hard work. Being honest about dreams and aspirations, and telling myself it is OK to NOT “grow” my business in the traditional sense of “growth” was liberating. I still look at my income and am happy when I sign a contract with a new client, but I am much more thoughtful about my workload and the type of work I take on.
What does growth mean to you – in business and in life in general?