The response is always of surprise and disbelief when I tell a client that our firm has no plans for becoming a large design firm with several branches. But as I watch their eyes glaze over I have to empathize with their response. We’re all well aware that in almost every business industry the recipe for a successful year often leans towards increased revenue and more employees.
But for those of you that are on the fence about whether your business should stay small, or whether it should take that giant leap forward towards global dominance, a bigger storefront, and possibly being deeper in debt, here are some my design firm’s decisions to stay small may offer some insight.
Learn some benefits and advantages of a small business:
Quick response time
For one thing, our clients have told us that they appreciate the responsiveness of a small design firm. Our business is able to operate with just one level of leadership. This single degree of separation means that communication between us and our client is efficient and non repetitive. Being able to deal with principal persons involved tends to greatly reduce wasted energy for all those involved.
The smaller project goes to the new guy
Clients often have said that there are times that when dealing with a larger design firm, also means having to let a junior designer handle your project if the firm feels the project isn’t worth the time of the more experienced designers. This situation often leads to problems as varying as the sizing of images, to the wrong information passed, and possibly bad layouts. Theses are unnecessary obstacles to a successful project and will wreak havoc on brand confidence. In smaller businesses, people follow through and don’t pass off the work to more junior employees because there aren’t any.
Having more control
Being small also allows me to be more involved with my firm’s business, from the press releases, to how we should handle a specific project, to being able to write articles such as this one. Working in a smaller business also means that the client doesn’t have to fight with so many layers of approval for tasks large and small. Late night revisions are easier to bear.
Our firm believes in being proactive, which is to say that we strive to foresee problems before they arise in a project. If an unforeseen problem is able to slip by us, being smaller allows us to react quickly. More time is also available for research and meeting with the clients. This ability to be constantly available is a greatly appreciated asset that our firm is able to offer all of our clients because we are smaller.
Smaller is not poorer
Being smaller does isn’t the equivalent of being poorer. Because we are able to react quickly to problems, have more time for research, are capable of meetings with clients often, and are willing to work through several revisions, we are also able to more easily show what we’re worth. This often equates to being paid well and just as important, if not more, means being paid on time.
Variety is the spice of life
Being able to work with a variety of projects is another perk to working in a small firm. The ability to be more selective of clients because of the project they have to offer, as opposed to having to choose a project because of its price tag, brings with it a large amount of freedom that working in a larger firm would not. As a result, often you never know what you’ll be working on next. Getting “burned out” because your business must work on the same type of work for extensive periods of time, because those projects pay more is taxing to a business’ creative process.
I get to play
This last paragraph brings up my last two points for staying small. With less people comes less overhead. Less overhead means more money for our market our firm, keep up with the technology and practices in our industry, stay in touch with past clients, and of course paying ourselves more. My last point is simple. As a fellow designer once said, “because I work for a small design firm, I actually get to design”.
Recommended Readings on the Advantages of a Small Business:
- How to Keep Your Entrepreneurial Edge
- You’re Small — Use It to Your Advantage!
- How Your Small Business Can Compete Against Big Businesses
- Why Work at Home? 8 Benefits of Being a Home-Based Entrepreneur
Recommended Books on the Advantages of a Small Business:
- Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins in a Socially Connected World
- School for Startups: The Breakthrough Course for Guaranteeing Small Business Success in 90 Days or Less
- The New Small: How a New Breed of Small Businesses Is Harnessing the Power of Emerging Technologies
- Six Disciplines for Excellence: Building Small Businesses That Learn, Lead and Last
About the Author:
- Project Management Best Practices
- Growing Your Business by Outsourcing to Freelance Marketplaces
- Starting an Interior Design Business
- Starting an Interior Design Business
- Project Management 101