In Defense of Tiny Companies

Why the best companies are like blueberries.

Growing up, I remember picking blueberries with my family every summer at a local berry patch in rural Georgia. As we filled our baskets to the brim, our conversations centered around a single question: what makes the perfect blueberry? For the longest time, I was convinced that the biggest blueberries were the best.

My dad, however, was there there to remind me of something: the best blueberry is small, firm and bright.

On a deeper level, I think this philosophy holds true for most things in life. Take food for example — the world’s most accomplished chefs understand that food is most delicious when served in small, well-presented portions. Less obvious are the bigger purchases we make in our lives. We traditionally buy into the idea that the best homes are the biggest; however, there is a growing movement of people building smaller homes and valuing financial independence over curb appeal.

One can also witness these values coming to fruition in the startup ecosystem. After years of the toxic “grow-at-all-costs” model propagated by Silicon Valley, we’re seeing an emergence of new companies rejecting its norms. I call this the Tiny Company Movement.

Quality > Quantity

Tiny companies strive for quality. They exist to be the best at what they do and stand behind their product. They do fewer things than big companies, but they do those things with unmatched focus and intentionality. Tiny details matter to tiny companies.

Pull > Push

Tiny companies invest heavily in crafting a product, brand and experience that naturally pull people in. Their marketing feels like a natural part of everyday life, rather than an unwelcome interruption. They let their work and brand do the talking, which organically leads others to talk about it with their friends. Referrals are a natural source of leads for tiny companies, and retention is very high.

Independence > Dependence

Tiny companies want to call the shots and safeguard what they’ve worked so hard to create for their customers. The thought of giving up this freedom to an investor is very unappealing, which is why most tiny companies are bootstrapped and profitable.

Over the next 10 years, we will see the emergence of a new breed of investment firm, democratized through blockchain applications and driven by shared values. Tiny companies will be more receptive to these resources so long as they maintain control of their company’s future.

Feeling > Features

Tiny companies understand that product features are just a means to arrive at a positive feeling. Rather than touting features or showing how they differ from competitors, tiny companies stand out by the way they make their customers feel. Customers don’t hesitate to reach out to a tiny company for support.

Tiny companies are just the start of a growing movement towards a more open, distributed, creative world.

Chris Turner is a human-centered designer who founded and recently sold Tenrocket, a company that builds full-stack web and mobile applications for startups in 10 business days.