BIG is not what it used to be
BIG (meaning very large, corporate multi-national companies) is loosing it’s advantage in today’s economy. With the exception of a few industries, where BIG government helps to regulate who can play and who can’t, the general barrier to entry is no longer cost, size or expertise. For most people, it’s more about personal risk than being “able to do it”. So, here are a few of my personal ideas about BIG:
1. Anyone can do it.
In many of today’s businesses, the barrier to entry is much smaller than it used to be – even in capital intensive businesses (mostly because capital is cheap right now). In the world of “knowledge” working and information technology – there is really an opportunity for someone with a good idea to get it developed and out in the market – with a limited amount of start up capital. There are even ways to broadcast your idea to get “funded”.
2. Money is cheap.
I’m not a financial whiz like those on Wall Street and won’t begin to explain collateralization of loans. But, when money is cheap, it makes it much easier to enter markets that require capital – and right now, money is near zero to borrow (in comparative terms). Also, when money is cheap, those that have it and are willing to lend it are looking for “ventures” that will produce better results – which usually relates to risk, but when money is Zero, risk is relative. As Baby Boomers retire, they want more security (and less risk) – but they also want returns of more than 1% or less – basic Catch-22. Right now, BIG and SMALL can borrow at about the same rate. In the world of investments, SMALL represents a bigger up side than BIG. So, where would you put your money?
3. Consumers evolve.
The next generation of consumers do not care about the old brands – there are fewer of them that really matter to them. They have grown up with hundreds of TV stations, music at the their fingertips, entertainment on game consoles, texting, Facebook. They don’t consume the same way as the Baby Boomers – and could care less. They are both brand conscience and uncaring at the same time. They help build “brands” then tear them down just for the fun of it. And they are more fractured than ever. Niche upon Niche. There are few BIGs that hold up to that pressure – Apple is one, but there aren’t many others.
I don’t know what will happen next, I just don’t believe that BIG is the answer – or at least BIG and unfocused. It requires an attitude of companies willing to “eat their young”. To survive, you have to have an attitude of fast failure – because you can’t allow yourself to be too much in love with anything you are doing today – because it can change on a dime. The new economy will be brutal and unforgiving. Companies will rise and fall faster than ever before. Products and Services will be here today, and gone tomorrow – because we are now living at light speed and there will be lots of causalities.