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Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big Hardcover – December 29, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
What do the Anchor Stream microbrewery and underground rock star Ani DiFranco have in common? The two are among Burlingham's examples of privately held businesses that have become "giants" in their field without becoming huge corporations. (And if you don't think being a rock star is a business, consider that DiFranco's dealings with local vendors in her Buffalo neighborhood have led to the creation of more than 100 new jobs.) For the 14 small companies profiled here, success comes by getting richer, not by getting bigger. Burlingham's central conceit, that these are companies that excel in generating "mojo," may seem abstract at first, but he carefully demystifies the term by focusing on issues like community relations and customer service. The owners he interviews speak from hard-won experience about resisting the pressure to simply keep expanding or sell the company to the highest bidder and staying true to their original visions for excellence. Burlingham, an editor-at-large at Inc., closes his account with a tribute to the magazine's late founder, Bernard A. Goldhirsh, whose celebration of entrepreneurship and loose managerial style clearly provided a lasting influence. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This well-written book should inspire thousands of entrepreneurs to reject a mantra of growth for growths sake in favor of a passionate dedication to becoming the absolute best. Bo Burlingham reminds us of a vital truth: big does not equal great, and great does not equal big. (Jim Collins, author of Good to Great)
It aims to do for small private companies what In Search of Excellence did two decades ago for big public companies: shine a light on a handful of business practices the author admires, and which he believes are the reason some companies consistently do better than others. (Joseph Nocera, The New York Times)
Small Giants is one of the most relevant and articulate arguments for staying bold and creative, intimate and manageable as I have ever read. I guarantee that expression and the arguments for staying small will cause a collective sigh of relief from thousands of entrepreneurs. (Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop)
With new management books arriving by the boatload, Bo Burlingham has somehow managed the near impossiblehes given us a true original. Moreover, in the process he may have discovered the most interesting and under-reported corner of the U.S. economy. In short, Small Giants is a Large Masterpiece. Bos reporting is stupendous, and his writing and storytelling skills make the book equal parts fun and profound. (Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence)
The fourteen companies that Bo Burlingham... features in his new book Small Giants demonstrate conclusively that a company can resist the temptation to keep getting bigger and biggerand wind up better for it. (Cecil Johnson, The Fort Worth Star- Telegram)
For all you harried entrepreneurs out there, Bo Burlingham has a reassuring message: Relax. Bigger isnt necessarily better. The wonderful stories in Small Giants show you how to prosper by retaining the vision of excellence that got you into business in the first place. (Rosabeth Moss Kanter, author of Confidence)
Bo Burlinghams done for private companies what Jim Collins did for public companies in Good to Great. (Steve Pearlstein, The Washington Post)
Top customer reviews
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It is a collection of well written stories of various US businesses that decided to stay manageable in size so that the owners keep control over what they worked hard to create instead of bringing tons of investors that he would become a slave of.
It does NOT make much POINTS besides the implicit idea that you can have a business of reasonable size and still enjoy your life and that this is all highly respectable.
So I would say, if you are used to read novels, you'll be fine, but if you are reading mostly to gain insights, find tips and rules/principles on what to do, you want to be highly repaired.
These stories are great though.
I understood that this is a topic-related approach and it’s not that big of a deal, but for me the reading might had been better if it might had been written company by company, not topic by topic with refferences to all the companies adressed in each chapter.
But, I DO RECOMMEND this book for the sake of it’s great idea behind. Thanks
As a small-business owner, I've often thought of growing my business much larger. But, with the help of this book, it's clear that growing for growth's sake only makes absolutely no sense. I would highly recommend this book to any small business owner who is on the fence about whether or not to grow their company.
One of the more interesting aspects is that the author delved into a number of diverse industries including sandwich and dress making, manufacturing, the video effects business.
1. Legal protection is a poor substitute for innovation. I and the book's author are not big fans of patents.
2. If you have no profits, you've got a hole in your business somewhere. If you can't find it, ask for help.
3. University National Bank & Trust, one of the small giants featured in the book, defined their culture BEFORE they defined their strategy. Their leaders were aware of what Peter Drucker often mentioned, "Culture eats strategy for lunch."
Burlingham identifies several patterns in the case studies, and lays out three imperatives for companies that want to make an impact and stay small:
- Articulate, demonstrate and embed a higher purpose into the company, completely integrating that purpose so that it becomes an everyday presence and not just a vision statement on a piece of paper.
- Create a culture of intimacy that continuously reminds people unexpectedly about how much the company cares about them
- Foster collegiality.
If this sounds as a kind of the place you would like to work at, grab the book and transform your organisation. Essentially, this book is Good to Great, but for organisations that do not want to go public. It's not a particularly new book, but I discovered it recently, and I think it will be valuable for anyone working in startups or thinking of starting one. The book is written in a very clear and engaging style, with lots of great stories, and gets five out of five stars from me.