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In Worship of Small Things

​The World’s population may be growing by 70,000 people every day, but the march of the individual in our societies continues unabated. Everything is about personalization – technology, healthcare, education, employment – everyone’s needs are different and they should all be met. This is changing the psychology behind decision-making – both from a consumer and business perspective.

Big no longer means better.

I’d like to share an example from the UK consumer market. Craft beer from small independent brewers has always had a place in our nation’s hearts. We love to spend Friday night in the cosy local pub, supping on the latest “speciality” beer. However, over the last few years, a wide range of craft beers have been made available in the supermarkets too. Small independent breweries are taking over the market. The small guys are taking significant market share.

The point is that if they ever grow bigger, they will lose their unique selling point. We like the fact that they are the little guys. That is their charm.

In business, it is not always about being the charming small guy with a unique product. You often have to compete with the big boys on a level playing field. When you are being asked to deliver a similar service, it is about finding ways to differentiate yourself.

Recruitment is an example of an industry that is being taken over by the niche experts. Being a global business with 45 offices in 30 countries impresses no one anymore. Being a niche expert in Big Data with a focused database of 95% of Europe’s Data Scientists could make all the difference.

Small is beautiful. As corporate recruiters increasingly use social media to cherry pick the easy roles that the big names used to make their “bread and butter”, the smaller guys are taking up the slack on the tricky roles that can’t be handled in-house.

David is definitely beating Goliath.

The workplace is going the same way. According to the PWC survey “The World of Work in 2022”, 46% of HR professionals expect 20% of their workforce to be made up of individual contractors by 2022. People enjoy more flexibility in a portfolio career, and they can be parachuted into organizations, make their unique difference, and leave for a new challenge when the job is done. Maximum efficiency, minimum wastage. People will have their own “brands” and sell their skills to those who need them. 29% of the global workforce place the “chance to take control of their career” at the top of their priority list.

Being an “individual” in the workplace is no longer so scary. Small businesses are increasingly seeing opportunities rather than threats. Bigger businesses are frantically trying to think “small.”

Is it worth thinking about how you could make your business smaller? Are there ways in which your life could become smaller?

Worship at the altar of small things. You will see the benefits.