The Difference Between Big Companies and Small Companies

The difference between big companies and small companies is that big companies can do dumb things with larger quantities of money.

I mention this to my SMB* on a regular basis, when they wonder out loud whether one of their new plans or efforts make sense. “What kind of marketing approach would IBM Global Services take to market an idea like ours,” they ask, or “Here’s what we’re thinking for a staff development plan. I’m sure it’s not as sophisticated as the Fortune 500 HR people would do, but it’s the best we’ve got…”

Sure, the big companies with more people and bigger budgets have access to more sophisticated ideas. But they don’t necessarily implement them more frequently or with a higher success rate. Big companies have their fair share of boneheads and boneheaded ideas executed in a boneheaded way. With big budgets. This isn’t to say that big companies are less smart than small companies. But the point is that small companies don’t need to (and often ought not) use a big company model for assessing their own plans.

From what I’ve seen, big companies stand a greater risk of being subject to group-think. The brilliant can quickly be dragged down to the average.  And with more people and layers, there are more opportunities for one bad cook (and that’s often all it takes) to spoil the soup for everyone.

Nobel laureate Richard Feynman once wrote: “I couldn’t claim to that I was smarter than sixty-five other guys–but the average of sixty-five other guys, certainly!”**


*small- or medium-sized business

**from “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” (Adventures of a Curious Character)

Comments are closed.