As the CEO of Glamajama for the last seven years I’ve led my company through tremendous growth and small business success. We’ve doubled sales each year, added a media platform, developed key relationships with national retailers, created a TV show, and even launched a few new companies. Despite all those accomplishments, we’re still a small business. Bigger than some, but smaller than most.
As I step into meetings pitching my brand and vision, I’m often reminded just exactly how small we are. While our little fish has grown in size over the years, so has the pond. My competitors are now companies with hundreds of employees, endless venture capital money, and a legal team bigger than my hometown.
When friends and family hear about my adventures building Glamajama there’s the inevitable gasp, “OMG, aren’t you nervous? That’s intimidating! Are you sure you’re ready for that?” I have to laugh, because I simply don’t see my size as a disadvantage. I see it as an ADVANTAGE. Small businesses always have -and will always be- the lifeblood of America.
Large corporations are often staffed with zombies. Employees who have lost their lust for life years ago when their pay scale got capped, they ended the open bar at the Christmas party, closed the cafeteria- you name it. I, however, wake up each morning loving what I do. I control my own destiny. When they’re counting down to 5pm, I’m counting down until 8am. I’ve got a fire in my belly and spring in my step that no zombie can match.
The big boys are notoriously sluggish due to bureaucracy, ridiculous amounts of paperwork, bloated staffing strategies, and backlogs in their accounting departments. By the time it takes a new initiative to reach the necessary 3 out of 5 rounds of middle management approvals, I’ve already patented the idea, launched a marketing campaign, and just closed my first customer. Small businesses are quick and nimble because the CEO’s often serve as judge, jury, and executor. Operational decisions take minutes, not months.
For new ideas to see the light of day at Goliaths, they typically have to move through research/development, market viability studies, endless product testing, sourcing, cumbersome launch campaigns, and more. While it’s nice to have employees ensuring a product’s success, its can also be quite sabotaging. “Cutting edge” ideas might take three years to get to market only to find out they’re not cutting edge anymore. My product development might not be as graceful, however, I can go from concept to customer in three months. That gives me the upper hand in seizing market share and priceless time building my base of raving fans. Raving fans that are eager to help me fine tune the product.
The media, industry insiders, and current market leaders usually only have big players on their radar. Companies with $40 million in assets perceive other companies with $40 million in assets as threats. NOT a newly incorporated business hailing from Wisconsin bootstrapping its way through a five page business plan. Which is a good thing for that small town start-up. They may be simple, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. They know those industry giants won’t realize they have a better, faster, cheaper product until it’s too late. They used their size as an advantage.
Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes, races, sexes, and backgrounds. It’s a diverse community. Despite all those differences we are unified through several undeniable characteristics. We are believers, doers, dreamers, and above all- FIGHTERS. No matter how many times we get knocked down, we are fueled by a fierce belief in our dreams that compels us to move forward. We don’t file our entrepreneurial dreams away in some corporate file graveyard, we come back better, stronger, and smarter.
The next time you walk into a meeting and find yourself outgunned, never hesitate to hold your head high. Just because a competitor is bigger than you, it doesn’t mean they are better. YOU are the one with the upper hand. YOU are the lifeblood of America.