Big Vision, Small Business

4 Keys to Success without Growing Big

Jamie Walters (Author)

Publication date: 09/25/2002

Big Vision, Small Business

While most of the business world worships size and constant growth, Big Vision, Small Business celebrates the art-and power-of small. Based on over seventy interviews with small-business owners and on her own experiences as a successful small-business entrepreneur, Jamie Walters shows readers how a business can stay small and remain vital, healthy, and successful.

Theres a new category of business owner today whose bottom line combines making a profit and having a personal life with a commitment to socially conscious enterprise. Big Vision, Small Business takes an in-depth look at four key areas necessary to maintain this type of enterprise. Covering growth options, small-enterprise advantages, inspired visioning, communication and right-relationship, mindset issues and expectation management, and wisdom and mastery practices, Big Vision, Small Business is a must-read for every entrepreneur and futurist.

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Overview

While most of the business world worships size and constant growth, Big Vision, Small Business celebrates the art-and power-of small. Based on over seventy interviews with small-business owners and on her own experiences as a successful small-business entrepreneur, Jamie Walters shows readers how a business can stay small and remain vital, healthy, and successful.

Theres a new category of business owner today whose bottom line combines making a profit and having a personal life with a commitment to socially conscious enterprise. Big Vision, Small Business takes an in-depth look at four key areas necessary to maintain this type of enterprise. Covering growth options, small-enterprise advantages, inspired visioning, communication and right-relationship, mindset issues and expectation management, and wisdom and mastery practices, Big Vision, Small Business is a must-read for every entrepreneur and futurist.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Jamie Walters

Jamie is an inspiration partner and lantern-holding guide for her fellow transformation leaders, change catalysts, and creative nonconformists who are exploring and navigating the "fierce edges of Life" and "Being (and Seeding) the Change" in these transformative times.

She's the creatrix and curator of Sophia's Children - Timeless Wisdom for Living & Leading the Transformation, which had its start as an early social media online forum in 2005, and migrated to the blog platform in 2006.

In 1992, she founded her long-running Ivy Sea Communication & Change consultancy (and its award-winning site, Ivy Sea Online) which, after 20 years gave way to a new cycle of Wisdom and Transformation work.

Her former consultancy's web presence, Ivy Sea Online, was chosen early on as a content partner for Inc.com and was recognized by Harvard Business School, About.com, Entrepreneur's Edge, and other conscious enterprise, leadership, and personal development sources as one of the best Internet sites for small-enterprise owners, entrepreneurs, and organizational leaders.

Sophia's Children has garnered a loyal niche of followers and ambassadors since she launched it in 2006, and has since become a primary vessel for her work.

The author of Big Vision, Small Business (Berrett-Koehler), Jamie weaves both ancient and contemporary timeless Wisdom into living and leading in these wild modern times.

Learn more about Jamie and Sophia's Children here.

You'll also find Jamie on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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Excerpt

Big Vision, Small Business

Chapter 1

FINDING QUALITY IN THE LAND OF QUANTITY

Image

FINDING EVIDENCE of quantity worship isn’t difficult, even in the midst of so-called small-business advocates. Take, for example, Small Business Week, an event sponsored in May 2000 by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). After referencing some of the contributions made by small businesses to our economy, the organization’s Web site went on to list the selection criteria for Small Business Person of the Year, emphasizing growth in the number of employees and increase in sales or unit volume as indicators of success. The SBA also has defined as “small” those businesses with up to 500 employees, a size most owners of truly small businesses consider very comfortably midsized, or even large.2

In a smaller but no less insidious example, one of the business owners interviewed for this book was named employer of the year by a statewide professional association in recognition of his employee relations practices. In the press release announcing the honor, the association representative referred to the award-winning business as “a small but growing firm,” as if the small group that warranted such recognition in the first place wasn’t quite enough. Seemingly trivial, perhaps, but language matters because it reflects deeply held assumptions and perpetuates an inappropriately narrow view of small business. These examples are just two indications of our culture’s unhealthy and often thoughtless bias toward big.

Surely increased sales or employee count provides one definition of growth but not the only one, and not one that guarantees profitability or success, much less a positive impact on the community or good quality of life for its founders. After all, one has to look no further than the recently worshipped, fast-growth dot-com companies to know that rapid expansion, in terms of employees and capital commitment, doesn’t guarantee a solid business concept, sustainability, profitability, nor economic (not to mention qualitative) contribution.

But just as expanded size doesn’t equate with profitability, satisfaction, or success, neither does an advocacy for refined smaller enterprises eschew the need for profitability and good business judgment. Personally, my advocacy for what author and economist David Korten has called the human-scale, locally accountable enterprise is inseparable from my preference for a good standard of living, which includes a self-defined degree of financial freedom. A preference for small business is not, for me, synonymous with a vow of poverty. It is, however, inseparable from knowing what is enough and what is—at the end of the day or of one’s life—truly important.

So if we’re willing to step away from our torrid cultural affair with size and linear progressions even for a moment, we might allow that growth can also mean an evolution or transformation, with an emphasis on qualitative aspects of business ownership, personal development, and contribution to the community. Unlike the more traditional, numerically focused entrepreneurs, big-vision small-business owners define growth in just this way—more a matter of polishing a gem and perfecting its facets, if you will, than of acquiring an ever expanding number of gems regardless of quality or of the fact that they might be permanently depleting the mine. Ultimately, the choice regarding what’s most appropriate must be left to the business owner, whose business, family, and life are most affected by this very personal decision.

The problem is that the decision to grow quantitatively is rarely driven by a reflection on one’s personal preferences or an assessment of other ways the organization might continue to live and thrive. Too often, the decision to expand is a result of an unquestioning acceptance of the “grow or die” myth, when in fact the end product of this approach might well be “grow and die.”

What are you the small-business owner to do in the face of such questions? Consider that there might be more than one way to grow, reflect on your options, decide what path is most consistent with your vision for your quality of life and desired contribution to the world, and then determine how business size or evolution can provide the best vehicle.

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