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The Price Of Growth

Scaling a small business into a much bigger business isn't as simple as doing more of what you're already doing.

The Price Of Growth

You're unlikely to bump into a member of the Ackerman family when shopping at your nearest Pick 'n Pay, but you can reasonably expect a large range of reliably priced goods and predictable store layout.

Shopping at your local butcher or bakery will probably be a different experience. It may not be as quick, convenient or predictable as a national retail chain, but there's a good chance that you'll enjoy a higher standard of personal attention while discovering artisanal products that aren't commonly available.

Both have their merits, but the latter is not simply a smaller version of the former. Remarkable service and niche solutions are fundamental to the success of many SMEs. Giant corporations, by contrast, rely on economies of scale and scalable systems that consistently deliver acceptable (if unexceptional) outcomes.

Forcing a large company's rulebook for success onto a small business is unlikely to end well. Trying to scale a SME's unique identity by several orders of magnitude probably won't turn out much better.

Growth is rarely as simple as doing more of what you're already doing. It also usually necessitates doing things differently. Therein lie two important lessons:

1. How far do you want to go?

2. What are you willing to sacrifice to get there?