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2022: The Year of the Small Giants

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When we talk about what makes a successful company, it’s often assumed the focus is on growing revenues and profit year after year. But what about the businesses that choose a different path? Businesses that choose to be great rather than big? 

What about the Small Giants?

I think 2022 will be the year of Small Giants, the businesses that choose “great” rather than “big.” These are businesses that focus on being the very best at what they do. They tend to be known for excellence, and choose a different path than the mergers, acquisitions, and rapid expansion.

The term “Small Giant” was coined by Bo Burlingham. It all started when he wrote an article for Inc. about a company called Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. This was the inspiration that would lead to him writing his book, Small Giants: Companies that Choose to Be Great Instead of Big. Later, he would be interviewed for an updated article in Inc. In an interview with FourWeekMBA, Bo talks about the relationships that Small Giants have with the communities around them.

Why do I believe that 2022 is the year of Small Giants?

The ability to navigate restrictions and change is vital. Customer behavior has shifted rapidly over the past two years, and navigating that is what will set your business up for success. This is the year to know your market and define your niche. To really get to know your customers inside and out, and position what you offer as value to their needs.

How can you shape your business as a Small Giant? There are five primary characteristics:

  1. Question the usual definitions of success. What your business becomes is your choice, and rejecting the temptation to expand quickly and go public allows you to truly choose the path for your company.
  2. Develop an intimate relationship with your local community. “Giving back” is likely the idea that you’re mostly familiar with. Small Giants care about the communities in which they serve.
  3. Nurture and cultivate close bonds with your customers and suppliers. This is accomplished by one-on-one interactions and a mutual commitment to follow through on promises
  4. Shape your workplace to address the broad range of needs that your team members have as human beings. Protect their humanity. There isn’t a roadmap when it comes to this trait, and it might require more creativity than you expect. It might also take time to figure out what works for your team, but it’s your responsibility as a leader to do so.
  5. Bring passion to what your company does.

There are new business rules – shifting from sales to solutions, and transactions to relationships. It’s crucial to clearly communicate, “why choose your business?” What is the value you create in your marketplace? It’s beyond what you sell. What you sell is a vehicle for you to deliver value.

What does that mean for you to be a giant?

If the idea of a more purpose driven goal appeals to you, then it’s time to take a look at your business through the lens of a Small Giant. For which customers are you the only option they’ll consider? If you don’t know your audience, then now is the time to find out who they are. What needs do you create solutions for, and how are you communicating that? 

A great example of a Small Giant is Farm to Paw. This pet food boutique was started by Barb Spears in Acton, Ontario in 2018. Farm to Paw quickly dominated the local scene by being active on social media and at local events, including farmers markets. Barb has done a brilliant job with branding, creating an inviting store and a knowledgeable team. So much so, there’s almost a cult following of customers who rave about the store and team. In May of 2020 they opened their second location, and are currently opening a third. Farm to Paw is not just a business, but a community of pet lovers that want only the best health solutions for their animals.

This is the year to position your business as a Small Giant in your community.

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