Small Company Blues-Limited Trust of “Outsiders”

I have made a good living working with smaller companies under the $15M revenue umbrella. Life is good as a friend of mine often reminds me and she is right. But the life is good mantra comes with great patience when you’re working with company owners who live in a vacuum.

Okay, maybe vacuum is a poor word to describe the situation small business owners are in. Monastic? Too stringent. Cave? Too dark. How about inserting the word “blinders” for vacuum. Fairly accurate so we’ll go with that. People who wear blinders have a limited range of sight. They tend to see what’s in front of them and rarely turn their heads to see what’s on either side or what’s breathing down their back.

Sometimes owners don’t have the time to look anywhere than straight ahead. There are so many day-to-day decisions that need to made that your average owner/president misses opportunities, solutions, and wisdom from the other side of the blinders.

So often I hear these comments from owners of small companies:

  1. I don’t have time to implement…
  2. I know my business better than anyone….
  3. This is a small company, we don’t need big company solutions….
  4. Salespeople cost too much….
  5. We have to cut prices to stay competitive..
  6. I’d love to go visit customers but as soon as I leave the office….

So many owners have a fear of listening to people from outside the company. The trust factor is low so the ears tend to shut down. And, if you are a consultant offering wisdom, don’t be surprised if the wisdom is not implemented. Too risky, too expensive, too complicated, and too time consuming.

My advice to owners is this. Make  intelligent decisions based on the potential for growth and not on the possibility of failure. Listen to others if they have experience that you don’t. Listen with an ear to intelligently critique other solutions, don’t arbitrarily jettison ideas.


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