The POS Software Blog

The POS Software Blog

News from Tower Systems about locally made POS software for specialty local retailers.

Local retail business advice: small is beautiful


Hi, my name is Mark Fletcher, I am Managing Director of Tower Systems. We make POS software for local small business retailers. I have also owned retail businesses since 1996. There is plenty of noise aimed at small business owners to scale, to get big. I wrote this article to comment on that and encourage that small is beautiful. here is my article:

I enjoy working in and on my small businesses each day, more than I might if those businesses were much bigger.

Social media, business books, videos and seminars tell business owners to chase size: more likes, more followers, more customers, more revenue, more profit.

Consultants and gurus applaud people for making businesses that are scalable and replicable.

Influencers celebrate follower milestones and encourage others to join in the race for numbers.

It’s as if size is the only measure of success that matters.

Those encouraging small business owners to chase size are often people who profit from you joining the race. Doing what they exhort may serve their goals more than your own. It’s likely to benefit their interests and not be aligned with those they encourage.

The pressure to chase size doesn’t make sense to me. I see it as the pressure on people to relentlessly pursue being slim or having white teeth or a full head of hair. It’s like being happy with what you have is not an option.

Happiness should be the goal—happiness for the business owners, for those who rely on the business for income, and for the customers of the business.

A small business that is profitable can make more money for the owners than a business pursuing scale, especially if that pursuit involves considerable financial risk.

The emotional cost of taking on a loan to fund growth is considerable. Compare this to a small, debt-free, self-sustaining business.

I’ve only ever owned and run small and barely medium-sized businesses. Along the way, I have encountered many big business competitors. While some have scared me for a time, none has hurt my businesses.

I remember a time, decades ago. A supplier to a specialty retail channel my software company served made a multi-million-dollar investment into a software company. They announced they planned to become the industry standard software. I found out that a customer of ours had allowed programmers from this other company to look at how our software worked and the data structures we used. They appeared to be trying to reverse-engineer some very retail channel–specific facilities we had developed.

I was paralysed with anger as I didn’t have the money to mount a legal challenge. Then, I realised that we were already ahead technically and that we should leverage that advantage to reach even further ahead.

Within a year, the other business was in retreat from the retail channel we dominated.

While it sounds cliché, I learned the value of staying the course, being true to the goal of the business regardless of the scale of a competitor confronting you.

In my experience, small businesses are more nimble, innovative and efficient than big businesses. Typically, they will be more profitable. I suspect this is because everything matters and everything is noticed in a small business, whereas inefficiency can go unnoticed in a big business.

Technology makes it easier for us to do more in our small businesses with less and to do so with less risk.

A benefit of being small is easy differentiation, thanks to your people, their knowledge, and their approach to transacting business. In a big business, such personalisation is systemised to be average and, ultimately, lost.

If you value independence and understand the importance of differentiation through personal service, you’ll probably be happier and more fulfilled running a small to mid-size business than chasing scale.

Don’t be told what to think or do. Reach your own conclusion as to what is right for you.

By Mark
The POS Software Blog




Recent Comments

Monthly Archives