Go Big or … Go Small

Here’s a dilemma that most small businesses face: when you need a service (banking, web design, cleaning, etc.) do you choose a small company or a large one?

You go through the usual pros and cons – a small company will give you more personal attention but have a narrower focus. A large company has more to offer but is going to be less responsive, and almost certainly less personal.

What’s a decision maker to do?

The answer, as always, depends on what you need. If you are going to need a business loan, you look for a small bank where you can develop a personal relationship. They may haveĀ  limited online features, however. If you need a bank with a national or international presence, you look for a large bank. You will be a number to them, but that’s the trade off.

Big companies need to keep growing. To do that, they need to be constantly eating, like a shark. They can’t be content with today’s income or today’s client list. So the service level will be lower and slower. A small company can be more flexible with its rates and still provide excellent service.

Here’s the bad news: big companies these days are getting larger and larger while small companies either stay small, sell out or go out of business. I can think of at least a dozen guys I know who have quit running their own companies and gone to work for a big company.

Now, you might think that’s OK if everyone has a job, but remember that small business has been a constant driver of innovation and is the real backbone of the economy. Think the richest companies like Google and Amazon hire a lot of people? Wrong. Wal-Mart is a much larger employer — but they only pay minimum wage. Do you really want everyone to work at Wal-Mart instead of the mom and pop shops that line the main streets of most towns across the US?

In the final analysis, you need to choose a company, large or small, that will fit your business but hire local where you can. Be prepared for the trade offs you will face and never forget to communicate.