"How many people are on your payroll?"
"Ehhh ... we are 12 now."
"Oh nice! It keeps you off the street ”(polite)
"We have 130 employees."
“Wow, impressive!” (My compliments, now you deserve my attention. How did you accomplish that?)
Why is bigger better? Is that really the essence? Maybe we only need 12 people to run our business. What is wrong with a small business? Why does it seem that growth is the only thing that matters?
Maybe small businesses can do things more efficiently by simply using IT in a smart way.
Small businesses dream of getting bigger. Within large companies, the main complaint is that getting things done is so cumbersome and that the flexibility has disappeared. They would like our flexibility. The flexibility of a small company. Everything takes forever! We notice that with our larger potential customers. Before a decision is made, you already had several business cases, investment decisions, vacations and meetings.
And yet I also participate. I am not innocent either;-)
Every time a potential customer comes to our office, I line up anyone who is slightly involved to come to the office that day. I make sure that the people who are actually employed are not suddenly outside the door or working at home.
And our Office ... I am now in a beautiful light and spacious office near the IJ in Amsterdam. A very inspiring and spacious environment with beautiful furniture.
This was not at all the case when I became the manager of a startup, in a previous life. Lots of processes, furniture, ring binders and junk. That was because a large company had a majority share in that start-up and had their processes projected onto the small company. And we were in our own office with a lot of old computers and other hardware garbage, which seems to be usual in development of hardware combined with software?! A real IT waste dump.
We also had a lot more legal hassle. Three very thick documents of more than 100 pages about how the large company worked with us and what we had to do and within which processes we had to fit. Then you already know, it's not right. If that is the foundation of trust, you have to quit working together.
And so it happened. The original shareholders, bought back their shares and that startup became an independent, small nice company again.
Unfortunately with too many people, since we no longer had those processes. And when you grew, it is very difficult to become small again. That is only possible by firing people, and that was my task. It damages morality and changes the way you do business.
It takes time to become a small and great team again.
I am now back at a small company again. And ... no more unnecessary junk. We work light and flexible. And that feels really good in my head. It gives a lot of space.
The more junk, the more worries. And also, the more people who are not dealing with the essence of the business, the more dissatisfaction.
Bottomline, growth in the number of employees should not be a goal in itself. You should only hire people if it is going to hurt somewhere.
And that applies to everything. Rent, costs, IT infrastructure, furniture, inventory, etc. If it doesn't hurt, you don't need it.
We are proud that we are a small company! Big is not beautiful!
And Monday ... when another potential customer arrives, I simply line up everyone again, as easy as that! 😉