Size does matter – and small is beautiful.

Marco and I have been thinking about our business, since losing the tender for the project in Exeter (see blog post entitled “Rejection is good for the soul”. We’ve been thinking about size – and that it really does matter.

Essentially we didn’t win the project due to our size – the larger building firm based in Exeter were able to start in two weeks and complete in sixteen. We would have had to complete some promised work in the diary first, not starting the Exeter project until June – and we had estimated a timeline of approximately twenty weeks.

Everything else about us the prospective client loved: Marco; our approach; our paperwork; our process; our past work and our experience; our “professionalism and honesty”. It was simply down to the fact that we are a small business. We don’t employ enough people and ironically – being so busy works against us, as we have commitments we need to keep before starting new work.

So. What we do we take away from what feels like a slightly bitter pill to swallow. Are we victims of our own relative success? How quickly should we expand? Should we hire more people, more quickly – and from where? We like to have relationships with the team around us, relationships that have mostly been borne out of friendships first. Should we be more greedy – promising an earlier timeline to a prospective client and sorting out the details when we get the job?

Simply. No.

What size small?
We are what the Government call, a small business, or SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) – but the definition is really unclear. On further investigation, and depending on which definition you use, an SME could have anywhere between 50 and 500 employees and have a turnover between £6.5 million and £50 million. One thing that virtually everyone agrees with is that SMEs account for more than 99% of all UK business and that they employ over 12 million people. A vital part of the UK economy and a vital part of growing the economy.

Recently we have heard more about micro-businessess. A micro business is defined as a business that has fewer than 10 employees or part time equivalent and an annual turnover or balance sheet not exceeding Euros 2 million. Anyway – we digress slightly…

Either way – and whatever we want to call ourselves – we’re small. We’re good – but we’re small, and should we consider this a weakness holding us back or, a strength to harness and capitilise on?

Having thought about it and talking it through – we feel what we’re doing is right and our size is good for now.We will grow organically, when the time feels right or the right opprtunities present themselves – whether that be the right peole ot employ, or the right project to go for and the right client to work with. Instinct guides us alot these days in the running of our business. It’s ours. We know it, we know what we want for it – and we have to trust ourselves to make the right decisions for it.
We’ve seen other builders run too quickly before they can walk really well. Hiring lots of people, running many jobs at the same time and soon failing their clients, their employees and ultimately, their own livelihoods.
At the same time – there are the builders who never change, seem of another age and another attitude.
At the core of what we do (we hope and want it to be so), is good and honest building work. Building of medium to large scale domestic projects, where we can work alongside the architect, the Planning Department and Building Inspector and most importantly, hand in hand with the client – to create real, long-lasting, long-loving homes.
As long as we can do that – and run the business how we want to – then we conclude that that what EF Schumacher so strongly believed in, is true. SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL.
E.F.Schumacher.
1 Comment
  • Ruth McAllister
    Posted at 20:45h, 16 March Reply

    Excellent post. There's nought wrong in being small. When you're a small business (and I would call myself a miniscule-micro business) you know exactly what's what. You'll know when to make the next move and you'll be ready for it.

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