I’ve noticed an emerging trend happening out there:
The little guys are growing up and becoming the big guys.
Online entrepreneurs are renting offices.
Solopreneurs are becoming agencies and collectives and are all about playing big – bigger – BIG BIG BIG!
I read a post recently by a minimalist who was talking about how to be epic. Epic.
Can you even be an epic minimalist?
Where is the hero’s journey in minimalism?
“I Own One Shirt: The true story of one man’s quest into the search for a gentle laundry detergent that he can also use to wash his butt.”
Three years ago when I started Makeness, small was in. Way in. Everyone was all about how to get out from under the thumb of The Man. We were proud of our ability to work in our jammies, travel the world, and do pretty much everything on our own terms.
But the climate was different then. Jobs were scarce. Corporate distrust was at an all-time high. And now, here we are – three years later – and the little guys are wanting more from their businesses. Beyond the desire to get out from under jobs we hated, now they want to lead. Now they want to change things for other people – lift them up – create jobs. Now they want to become them.
Them=The movers and the shakers.
Them=The difference makers.
Them=The leaders, the generational voices, the money makers, the people that leave the BIG marks.
But how? Why? Why give up the freedoms of being a couch-surfing entrepreneur to dive headlong into rent-paying and suit-wearing?
Because it’s effective. That’s why.
Because people take you more seriously when you have a conference room and an office that has a land line.
Because whether we like it or not, potential clients still feel better knowing that they have a whole gaggle of people toiling away just for THEM, instead of one really smart introvert who lives and works in their laundry-day underpants.
But is that the only way?
What’s wrong with small?
Isn’t it the work that matters?
Why does size matter?
Better yet, who gives a shit?
WHY do we start off liking small and wind up wanting to be big?
WHY do so many of us inevitably decide that we are ready [and supposed] to make our little thing into a big thing?
Small is lovely. Small is nimble. Small means you can change – adapt – grow – shrink – learn – fail – succeed – all from the comfortable place of knowing that you are safe in your creative bubble. Safe. Oh… that dirty word we are all supposed to avoid. When did safe become a BAD thing?
I don’t know about you, but I got pretty tired of hanging over the financial ledge by the skin of my teeth when I was like 19.
Safe feels pretty damn good these days.
Beyond the debate of small vs. big is the question of why, as business people, do we feel the need to tap into one or the other? Why do we have to build bigger or stay leaner? Why can’t we build leaner and stay small? In our little/big sub-economy, why is the biggest indicator of success still all about size? Number of Twitter followers/subscribers/readers/page views/clicks/etc… has become how we measure our reach – and thereby how we measure who is the biggest, brightest, smartest leaders out there.
It seems so adolescent to me.
Shouldn’t the measure of success be our level of happiness, our positive impact, and our fucking bottom line?!?
I know lots of people who make a lot of cash and are really happy and no one has ever heard of them. Their blogs are ignored. Their websites suck. They don’t have signs or suite numbers or VA’s. And I know plenty of people who have massive numbers and who make less than your average Gap employee.
So why do we spend so much time worrying about numbers that don’t matter? Or do they matter? Should they matter? No idea. Really. I. Don’t. Know.
I do know that I’m pretty sure that if Warren Buffett was starting out today, his number of Facebook friends wouldn’t be his measure of success. But if Martin Luther King Jr. was having a dream a month ago, he sure as hell would be sharing it on Twitter.
So why talk about all this? Because it’s a topic that’s on the top of my mind – and the minds of many other people I’ve been chatting with lately.
Since I’ve moved to a new geographic [and psychic] location – a lot has been churning in me, and in my business. As my landscape changes, I feel more and more in tune with the general and constant movement under my feet, and around me, in the little corner of the business world that I occupy. That churning sparks questions for me. Questions spark debate. Debate sparks ideas. Ideas are my stock and trade.
This big/small debate is just that. A debate. A step towards ideas and visions and changes. I don’t know the answer.
Some days, I want to hire people and rent a big loft and paint all the walls white and buy fancy computers and sit on big rubber balls and use crayons for brainstorming all my big ideas.
Other days, I look down at my cat and feel totally blessed that I do not, under any circumstances, have to put shoes on today unless I reeeeealllllyyy want to.
We are living in interesting times. We are part of what feels like a gold-rush of new ideas and ways to make a living, and we are filling up this boundless online land-grab with trendy choices that change faster than most people are able to process.
So, I’m asking. Big or Small? Fast or Slow? Is there a *right* way to be brilliant and world-changing?
Really, I’m asking. Use the comment space to share your thoughts. Tweet this. Share this. I really, honestly, am trying to get a read on what YOU think.