SmallCo? NewCo? String of Pearls or Sausage Machine?

Let’s take the smallest SmallCo – you!  Chances are your career has been rather like a string of pearls … one after another string along a necklace with some gaps.  However where do you get your next pearl from?  In the worst case its tough diving around trying to find those oysters and prying them open.


NewCos and often SmallCos operate the same way.  We need that first flagship deal!  OK got it … now we need a second … hmm hang on they want something rather different etc etc,  NewCos and SmallCos can be stuck in pearl territory for a long time, and like most traps, the strongest trap is one you don’t even know you are in.

In terms of scalability and sleeping easily at nights, if you have gone past the stage of finding pearl diving fun and exciting, then you really need to be moving into sausage machine territory.  A replicable set of processes to generate fairly standard outcomes.  A machine not a craft.

A couple of quotes I like in this regard. First Paul Freet (a serial entrepreneur and commercialization expert), slightly modified by me (to make it a set of processes rather than one):

A business is a repeatable set of processes that makes money.Everything else is a hobby.

The second is from Thom Holland an investor in start-ups and company mentor:

“Have you ever wondered why big businesses are so good at making money? Is it because big businesses hire a greasy car salesman to scream at you until you buy?….nope, that’s not it.
The reason big businesses are so good at making money is, ultimately, because they implement and develop incredible marketing and sales processes.”

So from all of this you may think that processes are the answer 🙂

Well they are… but… there are a few problems…

Firstly as companies scale and get bigger and inevitably more bureaucratic the structure gets more rigid … at a certain level of dysfunction the set of processes, rules and standards becomes so damn big it’s not possible to do anything. This of course applies to society – look at how many rules and regulations surround you if you want to start a business with a dozen or so people in the UK these days,

Secondly one oft-missed point is this “flowing” nature of the Tao of BizDev.  What worked yesterday might work today but may not work tomorrow.  These processes need a meta-process for constantly updating them.

Thirdly some of us – the ones who are just plain crazy lol – love the challenge of pearl diving and in many cases the whole journey of taking a business from there to creating the sausage machine.  However at this point it can become “just turning the handle” and that ain’t no fun.  A number of times in my career I have “created the sausage machine” only to (madly lol) move on to the next challenge.

Where do you stand right now?  Are you pearl diving and loving it or getting tired of it?  Are you building a sausage machine or just being paid to run one?

Most importantly what do you really love?  If I could wave a magic wand at you which would you really want?


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