Monday, March 12, 2012

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

People often look to big businesses with a mixture of awe and distaste. While it is always impressive the way a huge company or brand name comes to exist, it seems that you can’t get huge without stepping on more than a couple of toes. Growth strategies of huge corporations that involve gobbling up the little guys have led to negative impressions in the minds of the public. It also certainly did not help their reputations when the massive banks got taxpayers shelling out wads of cash (that a lot of them did not have) during the banking crisis. So actually, you can’t really blame the public can you?

However, with our economy stuttering along, is big business what we need? Small firms have often been lauded for their high creativity, flexibility and adaptability whereas big firms are often criticized as being cumbersome and clunky. While there are indeed some big firms that do live up to that, there are also a lot of big businesses out there that should be better supported for the good of the economy.

Despite being unlikable, many big firms have gotten big by being highly efficient. Well-run big companies know how to fully utilize their resources, which is a skill that this economy seriously needs to learn. They have plenty of advantages – the ability to reap economies of scale, bringing a greater variety of products to consumers at lower prices (hence improving standards of living) and for having the cash clout to invest in R&D that eventually leads to innovations and further growth for the economy.

Even though big firms have a lot of advantages over small ones, they have a lot to learn from the little guys. It is true that when a company grows in size, it naturally becomes more bureaucratic and ungainly. This is where the small firm mentality comes in. The leadership of the firm must continue to think like a small firm in terms of being creative and fluid in doing business. There should be a cultivated company culture that thinks on its feet and is deft in maneuvering. Impactful and truly inspiring companies like Apple and Google are well-known for maintaining a small business attitude internally despite being massive entities, and I daresay that it has contributed greatly to their incredible success.

If big firms were able to develop that sort of spunky attitude, it would be adding an incredibly powerful weapon to their already impressive arsenal of business weaponry. By taking advantage of that, hopefully they will be able to kick-start this stubborn economy and wake it up.