Here in Matchbox Associates we take processes and procedures and concepts and models developed in big organisations, and we chop them back and we help smaller companies use them. We do this because whilst lots of the things that big companies do are enormously valuable, smaller companies simply don’t need the detail and complexity that big companies need. So we build a business plan on one page, or a 200 word strategy or a dashboard that provides the critical data on which the business can act. And that works for our clients.
The learning experience shouldn’t be one way traffic though. The small business owner lives in a raw, dynamic culture that lots of bigger business could benefit enormously from understanding. The passion and pride that real entrepreneurs inject into their business, their creativity and their approach to innovation. How quickly they respond to threats and opportunities because each of these affects them personally. How much responsibility and pressure they feel for absolutely everything that happens within their business, and how they deal with that pressure. How that pressure affects the decisions they make. What they do when they can’t see where their sales are coming from for the next quarter. And how it feels when the business they own has smashed its sales targets for the month or the year because of something they’ve done.
Jack Welch wrote that, “An organisation’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” So if you’re working in a big company and you’re fixing your next strategy or business planning or budget planning session, why not invite along someone who’s set up their own business and let them tell you a bit about their world? A baker, a shopkeeper, a clothing manufacturer. You might find that what you can learn from them is as valuable as the lessons they could learn from you.