The importance of micro sized business. I had a meeting with Mr Giovanni Roncucci, Chairman of  Roncucci & Partners , an Italian business development consultancy, last week. He told me how the Italian economy is built on micro sized businesses. That’s right, he used the word “micro”; not small; not medium. Micro. The best part for me was the way he spoke of micro sized businesses in a proud, confident manner, like they could be multinational companies, “pocket multinationals”.

Yet, here in South Africa we seem to be ashamed when our businesses are deemed “micro”. In our minds the economy is built on the back of large corporates, not family owned mom and pop shops. Here everyone wants to work for a company. Or, in the case of local entrepreneurs, there is this obsession with scaling the business and trying to turn it into a big company. Why, I ask?

Recently I saw a quote from Boris Urban, professor in Entrepreneurship at Wits Business School, where he says that only around 16% of MBA graduates in South Africa start their own companies. Most MBAs prefer to stay in corporate or work for the government. It makes me wonder: why are we so ashamed, even embarrassed, to be associated with a micro sized business here in South Africa? Why don’t we build our economy like the Italians did?

Being small should in fact be good enough. It is in Italy, the worlds 7th largest economy. As Mr Roncucci said to me: Italy is not about Fiat, Ferrari or Versace, but about the businesses you have never heard of. As the owner of a small consulting firm (actually Firejuice is micro sized – there, I said it!), working with other SMMEs, I find Mr Roncucci’s views refreshing!

I sometimes get people saying to me “you have to do work for corporates” in order to be a success. My question: why? Why can’t Firejuice be a micro sized business, doing work with other micro sized businesses? It sounds terrible, but should it? If it is good enough for Italy, why not here too?

There is a difference between being a micro sized business and being a failure. You can be small, and successful. Micro, and magical! We need more business like this in South Africa! Small, for the sake of being small.

If you want to know Why your business needs a brand and how to build one, then join me next week Wednesday in Parktown North. Full details 
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