KATIE BULMER-COOKE: Ditch the labels and think big

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Business is one of my favourite topics and I love going to entrepreneur and business conferences, workshops and exhibitions.

Even more than attending, I really enjoy speaking at conferences, to other business owners and helping them with ideas and strategies for their own ventures.

This week I’ve been totally geeking out and reading a few extra business articles and blogs (yes I know, I sound like a right bore!).

As I continued to read, I realised that the business arena is making a big error. Businesses are being categorised as either a small, medium or large business or company based on the number of staff they have rather than focusing on that company’s achievements or geographical reach.

For example, my business has two members of staff, one is obviously me and the other works only five hours per week.

My company would certainly be classed as a small business by the business gurus. However, we sell to 11 countries across the world and we have contracts with some of the UK’s most well known health and fitness brands.

Surely such reach and influence makes us more than a ‘small’ business and in fact more of a larger concern.

I’m not a fan at all of labeling people or businesses because all too often that means you then start conforming to the stereotypes of that label.

You’re told you’re a small business, and so you start acting like one.

You come to believe that because you are a small business you should only be trading locally, and that you can’t demand better prices from your suppliers or that you don’t have the ability to influence or lead in your given industry.

I think we should ditch these inaccurate labels and us ‘small’ businesses should start thinking and acting like large companies and remove the limiting beliefs associated with the size of our company in terms of the number of employees we have.

Just because someone has twenty, fifty or even five hundred members of staff, doesn’t mean they are any better, more profitable or have more influence than those of us who are one or two man bands.

Now, with the opportunities available to us on social media, with email marketing and with blogging, there has never been a better time for sole traders and one man bands to make a big splash in any industry.

All you have to do is grab these opportunities with both hands and give it a go.

One of my mottos I use in my business is ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’...and the answer to that question, is almost always the same...‘they will say no’, and that’s not the end of the world.

I used this recently before a meeting with a big UK fitness brand, with whom I wanted to win a contract with.

Prior to the meeting, a little self doubt started to kick in, with a little voice in my head saying ‘why would they go with me, I’m just a one person company, surely they will go with one of the big boy companies instead.’ Then I gave my head a canny good shake, had the meeting and got the deal (not without some grilling). Result!

The bottom line is, it’s not about how many staff you have, how big your office is or how many premises you have, it’s about your ability to make an impact, deliver to a high standard, reach as many customers as possible and positively influence your industry.

So it’s time for us so called small businesses, to forget the old fashioned labels, remove our perceived limitations and start thinking big!