Embracing Small

Why is it that many companies intentionally try to appear larger than they are? I’ve witnessed this at several companies, but one comes to mind because it was done in such a blatant manner.

I’m not talking about a small exaggeration now and then either. Our company website was an absolute work of fiction. We were a group of 35 working to support events around the globe. But after our manger got hold of the copy, that number nearly doubled. Suddenly, we were backed by a corporate behemoth with an unlimited army of skilled workers. The fabrications grew more outlandish as our workforce shrank in size to the point where the manager made “Baghdad Bob” appear credible.

It was a joke that undermined our credibility with our clients. Worse, it undermined what little trust the manager had earned with his employees. If he’d fabricate something so trivial, what else would he be willing to do?

Since starting Ox Consulting, I’ve wondered if our size would hinder our growth if potential clients pulled back the curtain only two find two people doing the work.

But over time, I’ve come to embrace our smallness. On a recent call, a new client was surprised to hear we would be the ones creating her website. At one point, she said, “I’m sure you’ll pass this on to your team who does the work.” I laughed and replied, “That would be us. We are team of two.”

She didn’t pack up and take her business elsewhere nor has anyone else.

I take my cars to a small repair shop to be serviced. The dealership is nearby, but I prefer the small shop because I can speak with the technician working on my car. When I recently had a set of brakes replaced the technician took the time to explain the difference in various brake pads and rotors. I’ve never experienced that level of engagement at the dealership.

Remaining small does have its drawbacks.

We must carefully select the clients we work with. That means occasionally turning down projects. We know what size projects we can knock out of the park, and those tend to be smaller ones we can complete in days instead of months. Clients who are thrilled with their new site tend to tell their friends which leads to more projects. If you’re merely satisfied with a product, do you tell anyone? I don’t.

A larger company can absorb the occasional high maintenance client. That’s not the case with us where one such client can bring all projects to a screeching halt.

I assumed we were in the business of creating customized websites for small businesses. That’s actually the easy part.

We are in the listening business.
We are in the bounce your crazy ideas off us business.
We are in the help me overcome my fear of writing business.

But more than anything, we are in the pat on the back, keep going, you can do it business.