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Don’t take advice from elephants

The overwhelming majority of small business advice is from people showing us how Giant Corporation, Inc. managed to free themselves from the drudgery of being small to finally become “great”. It’s time these patronizing forces understood that small business and big business are two different animals.

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Run, gazelle, run!

The overwhelming majority of small business advice is from people showing us how Giant Corporation, Inc. managed to free themselves from the drudgery of being small to finally become “great”. It’s time these patronizing forces understood that small business and big business are two different animals.

The assumption is that a small business is just a big business that hasn’t grown up yet. We’re the adult, you’re the infant. We know what it takes to grow up and we’ll be glad to share those secrets with you young ’uns.

But the problem is that we aren’t a big business that hasn’t grown up. These are two different animals. It’s like saying when a gazelle grows up it will become an elephant, so all we need to do is show it what elephants are doing and eventually it can become an elephant, too. There are 28 million “small” businesses in America and only 17,000 with over 500 employees. These modern day mastodons are telling the rest of us how to do something none of us want to do – become them.

Small business is uniquely different than big business in just about every way: how we market, advertise, sell, build relationships, live locally, find vendors, do accounting, love employees, relate to customers, etc. They are two entirely different animals. But there is an incessant parade of articles, books, papers, and research of giant businesses with the intent of showing us small business people what we can look like if we grow up and become an elephant. I’m really over reading “How Giant Corporation, Inc.” finally freed themselves of being small, and grew up.

Most of us don’t want to be an elephant and for way too many, the parade of big business advice to their supposedly infant elephant brothers simply confuses the small business gazelles who are trying to apply it.

We need to stop teaching small business owners to knock down trees and take mud baths. Small business advice and examples of what to do should come from small business gazelles, not from lumbering elephants. They are two different animals with entirely different sets of requirements, processes, paths, motivations, and outcomes.

Be careful where you get your advice on how to build your business, and especially don’t take it from the “Bigs”. You could end up with a milk cow telling you how to be a rabbit.

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