Going for Great (vs. Big)

By July 7, 2009blog

I’ve always admired GREAT companies. Not companies that have the most market share, but companies that do things REALLY well. My self-observation is that the bigger I TRY to be, the less I am focusing on doing things really well. Also probably why I am such a big fan of growing ORGANICALLY. The second I bring on investors or hire people beyond what my revenues support, the pressure is on to get BIGGER faster.

I met someone this past week who has built a nicely profitable SaaS company, just him and his wife. Growing it 10% a year, making it a little better every year for the past 10 years. LOVE it! Could they have grown more if they applied more of the profits to do more in marketing, yes. But it’s really refreshing to see a tech company on this opposite end of the spectrum from the go-big-fast model that feels like an epidemic to me these days.

Jim Collins just released another great book How The Mighty Fall which talks about how companies don’t fail because they do or don’t innovate. They typically fail because they take their eyes off of the core of how they are most VALUABLE to the market. They bet the farm and neglect the core “flywheel” as he calls it.

This was an ongoing debate me and my partner had at RegOnline. Do we go for new products or services or focus on making our core product that much GREATER. You can guess which side of the argument I was on. Don’t get me wrong, I WAS a proponent of quickly and cheaply testing new concepts to see if there was real demand. I just held a firm rudder on not sacrificing being “greater” in our core product to do it!

I’d rather be small and great than big and mediocre anyday!

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