Why small businesses stay small

A power culture is crucial for startups, but you can’t scale when power is concentrated. Things break because, at scale, owner-managers can’t decide everything in real time. To scale without breaking you need a role culture with devolved expertise and power.

Letting go of that control is a huge emotional leap for entrepreneurs. It requires the maturity — and humility — to recognise that you are not always the smartest person in the room. It requires personal growth before financial growth. It requires being honest about your own limitations.

Some small business owners accept these limitations and plough a profitable niche. Some entrepreneurs level up and bring in professionals to manage phase two of growth.

And, sadly, some do neither and are stuck in the middle: overtrading while infrastructure buckles.

If you are depending on a company like this for all or part of your competitive advantage, the prudent strategy is to find alternatives. Because pride will invariably come before a fall.

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