Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, 10th-Anniversary Edition
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
How maverick companies have passed up the growth treadmill — and focused on greatness instead.
It’s an axiom of business that great companies grow their revenues and profits year after year. Yet quietly, under the radar, a small number of companies have rejected the pressure of endless growth to focus on more satisfying business goals. Goals like being great at what they do, creating a great place to work, providing great customer service, making great contributions to their communities, and finding great ways to lead their lives.
In Small Giants, veteran journalist Bo Burlingham takes us deep inside fourteen remarkable companies that have chosen to march to their own drummer. They include Anchor Brewing, the original microbrewer; CitiStorage Inc., the premier independent records-storage business; Clif Bar & Co., maker of organic energy bars and other nutrition foods; Righteous Babe Records, the record company founded by singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco; Union Square Hospitality Group, the company of restaurateur Danny Meyer; and Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, including the world-famous Zingerman’s Deli of Ann Arbor.
Burlingham shows how the leaders of these small giants recognized the full range of choices they had about the type of company they could create. And he shows how we can all benefit by questioning the usual definitions of business success. In his new afterward, Burlingham reflects on the similarities and learning lessons from the small giants he covers in the book.
From the Hardcover edition.
by boat and be unloaded, processed, and sent on to New York City—and the rest of the world—via the Erie Canal and the Hudson River. By the early 1900s, it had become the eighth largest city in the United States and one of the most beautiful, with a street plan patterned after Pierre L’Enfant’s plan for Washington, D.C.; a park system laid out by Frederick Law Olmstead; and buildings designed by the most famous architects of the day, including H. H. Richardson and Frank Lloyd Wright. Beginning in
employees decide whether to continue having an annual holiday party or to spend the money on a local charity. The employees chose the charity, a school for autistic children, for whom they bought, assembled, wrapped, and delivered Christmas presents. Today CitiStorage is like the rest of Brooklyn—a melting pot of people from many backgrounds, speaking many languages. There’s a hardboiled, no-nonsense, “fuggedabowdit” edge to the culture, combined with warmth, generosity of spirit, and the
Let them know you’re on their side. “It’s as simple as that,” he says. Simple it may be, but easy it is not. There are clear limits to Meyer’s ability to teach enlightened hospitality. Yes, he can give examples of it in action. He can talk about the waiter who sees customers having trouble deciding between two desserts—and brings the second one free. Or the manager who offers to return by messenger or Federal Express the handbag that the customer has left behind, rather than simply holding it
But far from being overwhelmed, his life got easier. “All the managers brought their game up a couple of notches. They’d been with me for a while, so it wasn’t a huge adjustment for them, but they made me realize that I didn’t need a, quote, right-hand guy after all, and that was a revelation.” He didn’t need a right-hand guy, he discovered, partly because he had already put systems in place all over the company that would avoid most problems as long as people followed them. He has a knack for
worth, say, $30 million, it will go into a trust upon your death, and your estate may owe as much as $15 million in taxes on that single asset (at least as of 2005—the laws are changing). Unless other arrangements have been made, there’s only one way the estate will be able to come up with that money: by selling the business. There’s also only one way to avoid such a fate: by planning well in advance what will happen to the company when you die. You may, for example, be able to buy life insurance