My Business vs. My iPod Shuffle.


My wife was concerned when she bought me the Shuffle that it was the wrong type of iPod. That the sheer size of it would be a turn off. She worried that it was too simple. That I would need an LCD screen to look at and tell which song I was listening to. A dial to turn up the volume and switch songs.

I couldn’t be more in love with it, honestly. It makes me wish I was Steve Jobs. I put my earphones on, turn up Al Green and suddenly I want to eat an Apple.

Beautifully conceived idea, the iPod Shuffle. Smaller than a Bic lighter and yet it creates a magnificent sound in your ear. Non-assuming yet able to download up to 1 GB of my favorite indie, blues and alternative selections.

I want my business to be like my iPod Shuffle.

The temptation when developing a business is to GROW, GROW, GROW. The idea of being a giant company seems attractive, I must admit. Google. Microsoft. WalMart. They own there markets because everyone has heard of them. It would be nice to know people in different countries went to sleep at night wishing they were me.

But, there are reasons why I’m going to keep thinking iPod Shuffle when developing my business. Reasons why I personally intend to keep my company super small. And maybe you should to.

1. Large companies can’t work out of your home.

One of the things that attracted me the most about starting my consulting business was it would give me the ability to manage things from home. The idea of outsourcing the majority of my work to subcontractors in different cities and states from the comfort of my dining room table while sipping my next cup of Kona and wearing my jogging pants gives me the warmest fuzzies you can imagine. The boneheads you used to work for can’t say that. They get up early to make the commute in to the office. You get up early to walk to your coffeepot and then your laptop. They have a dress code (business casual). You don’t (casual). The beauty of it is the world we are living in today is a place where a person like you can make gigantic changes in the marketplace and never leave your home.

2. Large companies can’t function on a single server.

I was never privvy to what the in-house IT guys at my previous job were getting paid, but judging by the number of people employed to assist with technical issues and the amount of space given to servers for backing up all the workstations they must have spent a fortune on that resource alone. You probably know well the frustration of working in an office setting where despite the technology at your disposal you are forced to sit drooling at your cubicle for hours because the team is constantly making “improvements” on the system to keep up with the number of employees sipping from the network. Well, that is not an issue when you are intentionally small. Your tools are all web hosted.

3. Large companies can’t turn on a dime.

Large companies are simply not agile enough to change midstream. They come with all this baggage — meetings, office politics, long-term contracts, inventory, excess staff — that will not allow them to pick up and move at a given notice. Bummer. The industry I am in is in serious flux due to economic conditions. The housing market is in the tank and a serious number of foreclosures has resulted. But, for the sake of the country’s wellbeing, I hope this isn’t always true. In the event that the market changes I am able to meet the change without having a boring meeting, signing a contract, letting someone go or hiring additional employees, and dealing with the complaints of Cubicle No. 3. Large companies can take years to alter their path. It only takes me enough time to make up my mind.

4. Large companies can’t exist on free advertising.

Usually the large companies have to hire PR teams to remain competitive. I think this is just another unnecessary expense and wasted space in your office. What these companies can do for thousands of dollars (increasing their SEO and making an impression on people all over the world) I can do with social media and blogs and pings. And, I do it for free. Sound overly simplistic? Then try it. The best way to make an impression is to get your thoughts, your personality, your experiences out there. Then watch people bite. People don’t buy products anymore. They buy you. And, if you’re boring or unwilling to open up and share your story in the marketplace then your company will continue to overspend and you still will not make substantial changes in your industry.

Consider keeping your company intentionally small. I know I will — always. I want a fit-in-your-pocket type of company that you can take with you anywhere. Non-assuming yet everybody wants one. And, like my iPod Shuffle, I’ll make a magnificent sound in my chosen industry’s ears.

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