Never say “small”. NEVER.

purnima varadrajan never say small

When life teaches you lessons you tend to remember them well.  This is what I learnt years ago when I just started.  I had a team of two.  I was in one of those networking sessions.

The venue was filled with entrepreneurs.  The energy was high.  Each one of us in the room talking to the other about their ventures, for most of us it is first time.  Ya, me too a first generation entrepreneur.  Actually when you hear us speak, we would have sounded like how parents talk about their new born..(pun intended)

30TFE“….my 3 month old shakes her legs when she hears music” “really wow”

“….ohh mine is so intelligent, dont ask” “WOW”

But there were those senior ones who had multiple ventures, who have seen success, who shared gyan.  One such person whom I shook hands with asked me what I do…(seriously I wish I remembered his name, but I cannot). Like all times, I started ” I am entrepreneur, with a small start up iPOTT,  and iPOTT is……” and this how I used to go on each time I used to talk about my company.

The gentleman heard me and said

“how small is your small?”

” we are a 2 member team”

“so you are bigger than me.  I just started my 5th venture and I am yet to form a team. And by the way how big is your big?  I mean when will you start calling your startup big?”

I had never through of it and was thinking what could be my number.  He didn’t wait for it

” Say you become a 100 member team you will be still very small compared to a 5000 member company.  So what is your big? “

I had no answer.  And the conversation ended there.  Little did I realise that it is going to have the biggest impact on me.  Slowly it dawned upon me that most of us use the word small too often.

“…small company…” “…small team…”  “….small setup…” “small job” “small opportunity” “small order”  “small person (person? Yes people are also small people when they come from small companies)

I was also using it so very often. (not the people part).  Slowly I also started realising when you attach a word small you tend to treat it that.

  • Small company will not function like a bigger company. (ok lets deal with the big later)
  • Small teams will not take courage to deliver big
  • Small opportunity does not give that big a enthu
  • Small orders are not given importance
  • Now the people part.  Try telling a MNC that you are a small vendor and see how you get treated.

I realised I am small only when compared to others.  I am not small on my own. And if I compare my existence with others then I am going to be always small.  100 member team I am still small.  5 crore revenue still small.  1000 member team still…….? So when do I feel big.  When do I act big? When do I deliver big?

That day I decided to eliminate small from my vocabulary. It was a difficult habit to kill. But killing, I did.  And then I realised the word ‘big’ had also gone out of my vocabulary. So I no longer owned a small company,  I no longer have big competitors to fear about, I no longer have big clients to please or a small client to deliver cheap.  This did not give me or my company arrogance it just built confidence.  We stand by what we are capable to offer and deliver and has nothing to do with whom we win against or who we deliver to.

Try looking at how “small” has kept you “small” and how the “big” and also kept you “small”

One of the biggest lessons for me as a entrepreneur… Never say “small”. NEVER.

30TFE-1

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