Small Giants, by Bo Burlingham, is an excellent read for all proponents of small business. Following the framework of Built to Last, Burlingham studies a series of companies who have been tremendously successful. However, he instead investigates companies that choose to be great rather than gigantic – hence the title Small Giants.
This idea first appealed to me because I have always believed that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. The vibrant entrepreneurial culture is one of the characteristics that has made the United States the richest country in world history. The inventions and innovations that have molded our history have often come from what we would define today as the small business community.
Celebrating companies who have successfully become great at what they do, but then choosing to limit their growth strategically to maintain the character and values of the organization also directly appeals to me because that is what we are striving to achieve at StartUpSelling, Inc. As a boutique marketing firm, we are most interested in excellent service, innovative ideas and superior solutions – not explosive growth. Of course we set growth goals, but only in a manner that allows us to maintain our core values and continue our primary focus of being great.
I would call Small Giants (as well as The Knack by Burlingham & Norm Brodsky) a must read for any small business or solopreneur. It provides an education as to how organizations attain tremendous success by focusing on core values, community and their people – often sacrificing growth to achieve greatness.