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Monday, 19 March 2012

Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Boss?

The recent focus in the news on ‘tax avoidance’ and ‘excessive bonuses’ for company directors, in addition to the sense that what profit is being made is being wasted by a select few, are contributing to a palpable nervousness and unease. 

Words like ‘business’, ‘profit’, ‘growth’ and ‘expansion’ have recently been wantonly thrown around by the media like a dog with a toy rabbit - like said rabbit, these terms are looking a little grubby and have lost their true form...

There has been a great deal of focus on big businesses recently, in particular on their figureheads, the big bosses who are being demonised (some of them rightly so) and consequently drawing a lot of negative attention to the company as a whole. But, that’s a good thing, right? Calling out the baddies and making them account for their actions? 

Of course, highlighting misconduct and drawing attention to the difference between good and bad management of funds, personnel and business-to-business relationships is vital to setting a standard for good practice. The downside of these exposés, many of them sensationalised and exaggerated in the name of selling newspapers, is that they have the result of confusing ambition and entrepreneurship with dirty dealing and greed.

It’s a potentially difficult situation for smaller businesses and start ups. Faith in the very word ‘business’ is waning. It might sound simplistic, but investors need to have faith, be brave and feed the smaller fish. The bigger, more brutish looking fish might be at the top of the food chain, but without all those smaller, finned friends the whole system would fall apart. 

And how can smaller businesses help themselves? Ditch the cardboard boss also known as magnolia man or woman!  Personality, points of difference and stand-out characteristics of company directors, business plans and proposals are vital to inspiring investors, workers and industry competitors alike.

Dare to be different – you can be creative and ambitious while still maintaining an excellent public image. Be proud of being a small fish – you can get into tighter niches than the big ‘uns. And to all those would be investors, size isn’t everything – with the right attitude (just keep swimming...) those smaller fish can really fly.

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