Proudly small… size matters!
Otherwise titled “there’s nothing small about my business!”
We use the language of “small” business because it apparently defines the type of enterprise that we fit, but the people who named it are not people like me. They’re not business people like I am; from their comfortable government or corporate offices, they look down on my business and the thousands like it. They aren’t careful with their words so when they say “small business” they’re looking at a single set of criteria, a set related only to turnover, my profits and how they can benefit from them.
From day one of our now sixteen-year old business the team was focused on making good the promises we made. We understood that if we were to find a place in the world it would have to be eked out from a world that thinks it already has solutions to virtually every problem it can imagine and so we built by going big on service.
We gave service and commitment like I’ve never received from any of the big businesses I am a customer of. We worked relentlessly, imagining fixes and building systems that our clients have valued. Sixteen years later one business has become three and the thing we treasure most, the thing which is hardest to sustain, that most defines our success or our ever-present potential for failure is to think like a small business. Words that define businesses like mine better than “small” include: “versatile, crafty, disruptive, tense, focused, scared, sharp” and more.
Today, years later, many of the businesses we worked with initially are still our clients. Most of the people we worked with in the beginning have left and moved elsewhere but there is a sort of magic in the way the habits of service and support we built then, carry on impressing the generations that have followed them years later.
There’s nothing small about our service. There’s also nothing small about our courage, our resilience or our willingness to try new methods, our optimism is unreasonably big too. Neither is there anything small about our energy, or about the way we never take a day off from thinking about our business or our clients.
There’s nothing small either about our fear. We know exactly how close we are to the brink. We know we’re always at the mercy of our clients’ continuing goodwill.
We know that if a client reneges on a contract or another commitment, we value our time and focus so much that we probably won’t sue them. We haven’t defined legal services as a core business function and while our commitment to issues of ego is small, our commitment to business growth is great. Our commitment to moving forward and to success is enormous.
There’s nothing small about the risk we take. If we mess up there are no cushioned landings, no golden handshakes, no sycophantic journalists nodding acceptingly at our descriptions of how it wasn’t our fault. We live with the people our failure will damage most. We look in their eyes each day.
The banker who so comfortably tells us we are a small business doesn’t know what it means. We accept the label not because it’s right but because we’re too busy building something to really care.
Alone we might not have the turnover or the profits to move mountains but as a body, all of these small businesses together create jobs andpay the taxes that are the backbone of the economy, like any other backbone, we are its strength.
The biggest living organism in the world is not an elephant. It’s not even the Blue Whale. The biggest organism is a coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef. This organism comprises billions of small creatures, all working independently but thriving (or struggling) together symbiotically.
We are the commercial version of the Great Barrier Reef. We make a difference, protecting people and their lives in ways Blue Whales will never understand.
There’s nothing small about small business.
James Ashton In-Naxxar Malta
Her specialties include copywriting, web design and development, social media, community management, email marketing, and digital media.