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It's widely accepted in business that great companies grow their revenues and profits year after year - but bigger is not necessarily better. In Small Giants, journalist Bo Burlingham takes us deep inside fourteen remarkable privately held companies, from a brewery to a record label, that chose a different path to success.
These organizations quietly rejected the pressure of endless growth, deciding to focus more on satisfying business goals - being the best at what they do, creating a stimulating place to work, providing perfect customer service and making important contributions to their communities.
But what are the magic ingredients that make these companies unique? Why and how does their approach work in such widely varying industries? And what lessons can we learn from them? A fresh, inspirational guide to business strategy, Small Giants will help any entrepeneur consider new directions to make their company great.
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.