Growing pains

I’m crap at commerce.

Well, I must be, ‘cos growth is simply not the number one priority for the future of my small biz. For me, getting bigger don’t necessarily mean getting better.

I should know. Physically, I personally got a lot smaller over the last year or so, and believe me, it feels way, way better not to be heaving quite such hefty carcass around. So perhaps that’s at the root of my reluctance to join the ranks of the rapid expanders. The new slimline sole trader that is me really quite likes being a lean and not-very-mean commercial enterprise. But if you want to be seen as someone who runs a proper business, you’ve got to want to grow, and grow fast. Or at least, that’s the hymn sheet many entrepreneurs seem to be singing from.

You just can’t escape the growth chorus. It’s the talk of the small business steamie, the commercial chitchat of choice. If I had a fiver for every time I’ve been asked about my growth plans recently, this wee wordsmith would be giving the Huffington Post a run for it’s hefty income column.

Hey! Ambition in enterprise is fine – I’m all for thinking big, with bells on. But there’s a certain sniffiness shown towards those of us who care less about size, more about doing a job right. And there also exists a certain subtle pressure, particularly from the agencies supporting business development, that we all need to grow big, rapid style, otherwise we fail the entry exam to serious enterprise. From time to time I do detect a certain dismissive demeanour from the (would-be) big boys and girls that we wee yins are a bit of a waste of entrepreneurial space. That we’re just not to be taken seriously, economically or entrepreneurially.

It’s enough to make me think that maybe I’m not a proper business woman after all. And maybe I’m not. But haud on a minute, china. Since when did I ever care about doing things the “proper” way?

See, I’ve never given much of a monkey’s about playing along with the party line. But even I, and my much-vaunted good way with words, was temporarily silenced recently when it was suggested that some in the enterprise agencies feel that very small businesses like mine might be shirking our social responsibility by not having rapid growth plans in place, ones that would create pure hunners of jobs.

WTF? Are you havin’ a laugh? Well excuse me, but I’m not in this to make my mark on Dragon’s Den, or feature in the Sunday Times Rich List. I don’t have a global expansion plan mapped out, or even a Scotstoun expansion plan (not yet, anyway). And I’m certainly not in it to satisfy some box ticking exercises being undertaken by those who hold the keys to the enterprise grant piggy banks (let’s not forget, my working life taxes have contributed a fair whack to business development pots in the first feckin’ place). No, ya numpty, I’m in this for LOVE.

I’m in it to share what I’m good at, to bring people on. And I’ve done more than my share. So don’t give me your snash about social responsibility. Sometimes it’s the wee yins who do the best work.