I have learnt so much from Seth that it’s sometimes scary to disagree with him. Seth posted two great articles in the last two days on his blog. Here they are:
1. 6/5/05 – Small is the new big
2. 6/6/05 – more on small
There was a lot of great insight there however, while I agree with many
things over there, I have to disagree on the overall theme. I had to
write this as there are probably thousands out there that take Seth’s
word as gospel and may take some action based on this advise.
Seth talks about how it is better to be small rather than big. He talks about his own experience
exactly one employee. Me. This has changed my worklife in ways that I
hadn’t predicted. The biggest changes are:
1. the kind of project that’s “interesting” is now very different. It
doesn’t have to be strategic or scalable or profitable enough to feed
an entire division. It just has to be interesting or fun or good for my
2. the idea of risk is different as well. I can write an ebook and
launch it in some crazy way and see what happens. I can build a dot com
enterprise with a questionable business model and just see what
happens. Because my costs are a whisker compared to a large
organization, there’s just no comparison in the way I can approach
something (compared to, say, a publisher).
My $.02 on the small vs big is that there is no one right answer. It
depends and the strategy has to be different based on the situation.
While being small may work for Seth, for a common man it may be an
impediment to grow. Not everyone may have the brainpower of Seth – to
be creative and resourceful. Not everyone may have the connections and
reach that Seth has. Not everyone has the brand power that Seth has.
So, blindly thinking that if it works for Seth, it will work for me may
be a recipe for disaster.
My take is that if you really want to be small, you need some skills
and you should already be “remarkable” in your mind, in your thought
process, in your way you build your relationships and so on.
I was part of the team that bootstrapped our company CIGNEX.
When we founded the company in 2000, we were small and it was not easy.
It was hard to find a customer, to find a partner, to get a credit
line, to market, to get a speaking slot and to get some buzz going
around. What seems easy now was very hard. One keyword – there was
limited “leverage” when we were small. As we started growing, we
started getting higher leverage out of everything we do.
Seth has so many examples demonstrating the advantages of being small.
Those are inspiring but it should be your call as to whether you are
that “kind” of person to repeat what some of the folks in Seth’s
Here is the summary of my thoughts:
a) Every situation is different. Sometimes being small is good sometimes it may not be good. There is no one right answer.
b) You need to be “remarkable” as a person if you want to succeed being small.
c) If you choose to be small, have a great personal brand or be willing to work VERY hard to build one.
d) Big or small – the keyword is “leverage” If you know how to
“leverage” your assets, relationships and skills, the chance of success
in either case (big or small) is the same.
e) Big and small both have their own advantages and disadvantages. What
may work for someone else may not work for you and vice versa.
Seth, I am one of your humble students. You are great. But, I had to disagree with you here.