Preconceived ideas on the transformation of small and medium-sized businesses

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that innovation is omnipresent and accelerating, nor is there any doubt that the expectations and behaviour of customers and employees are changing just as rapidly and radically.

Everyone should therefore agree that companies must transform themselves or at least evolve at the same pace. Well, no.

“Too small to change” is the next “too big to fail”

How many times have I heard something like “it’s not for us”? Often with the argument of the size of the company as an argument. “We’re too small to get into this”, “These are big business problems”, “we don’t have the resources to do this.”

And at Unleash Amsterdam last October, I noticed an interesting fact, corroborated by my exchanges with a few other professionals in the field: regardless of their size, companies were all looking at the same things. So of course sometimes the financial step was too high, some offers can be specially sized for a certain size of company but, thanks to the cloud, there was a convergence that, no matter what the domain, I was not used to seeing.

When you have everything in common you have the same problems


– customers are the same for everyone in terms of changing behaviours and expectations.

– the employees are also the same for everyone.

– for a given business the evolution of technological solutions is the same. HR with HR solutions, marketing with marketing solutions, collaboration with collaboration tools.

In short, when you have the same expectations and customer behaviour, the same expectations and employee behaviour, the same technologies at your disposal, you have the same problems and therefore the same imperative for change.

There is no less need to better recruit, better address and target candidates, to provide better employee experience throughout the last life cycle, whether small or large.

There is no less need to better address and target customers, to provide a better customer experience throughout the last life cycle whether you are small or large.

The world is as global and changing as quickly as one is small or large.

Transformation is especially important for the small ones

Even if it means being iconoclastic, I would even say that these transformation subjects are even more important for the little ones than for the big ones.

Casting errors, disengagement, lack of development of an employee’s skills are less obvious when the candidate in question is drowned in a larger team than in an SMB where he will directly penalize the collective without anyone to “clean” behind him or to serve as a baby-sitter.

In terms of marketing, even if no one likes to throw money away for campaigns with uncertain ROI, an SME cannot afford to aim wide and sprinkle everywhere, hoping that by chance the message will reach the right person. Even more than a large company, it needs to know its customers better, to target them better, to be both frugal and efficient. Large companies, even if it is not desirable, can resort to carpet bombing in desperation or by thinking “we can afford it, we will flood and we will see what works”. The little can’t.

And I’m only talking about two topics that will speak to everyone, but we can repeat the reasoning over and over again on all the key functions of an organization.

When the big ones have the same problems as the little ones

When I say that small structures discover that they have the same problems as large ones, I see that the opposite is also true. After having long dealt with their heaviness and some “rich people’s problems” they discover a need that the little ones know well: the need for scalability, speed, agility. Things are moving forward even if doing with little, frugally and scalably was not in their culture and they believed, for a time now over, that the advantage of size would protect them from the race for speed.

When the environment is the same, either you have the same problems or you are in denial.

In short, in either case, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that what must drive a company’s ambition and structuring projects is not it as an organization but its environment. Its customers, its current and future employees, its suppliers. When the environment is the same, either you have the same problems or you are in denial.

Photo : Size does not matter from Zanariah Salam via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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