Go Small or Go Home: Why Fast Growth Isn't the Best Solution for Your Startup

The old startup mantra of "move fast and break things" doesn't always work. Try the method of slow, sustainable growth instead.

By Mohammad Farraj

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The most important aspect of starting a new business is a clear vision for the future. That creative mission is the starting point for developing a business plan and everything else that follows. While a business plan nearly always focuses on growth, entrepreneurs should consider the intrinsic benefits of starting small and how to let their small size lead the business to sustainable growth.

Related: 8 Ways Your Startup Can Master Sales and Growth

Starting small is a learning curve

It's become part of the contemporary narrative that everyone has to go big or go home. Every day entrepreneurs experience their own personal "go big or go home" moment. The key is not to decide whether or not to go big or to go home; it's starting small and gaining the perspective to know when it is time to go big.

For fledgling businesses, it's often going small that prevents going home in defeat. If one intends to grow a business for the long term, starting small is the best way forward. Even if an entrepreneur has the financial resources to begin a large operation, growing into it slowly but surely, can be a better path.

Why? While there is nothing wrong with eventually going big, starting small opens a better route by offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to become familiar with all aspects of their business. This in-depth knowledge ultimately shapes them into the kind of leaders who can effectively grow the brand and provide a positive impact in every corner of the workplace. Understanding the minutiae of the business also allows business owners to find and fill gaps and devise both short-term and permanent improvements.

The agility advantage

Another advantage of starting small is agility. A smaller business has a leaner footprint and fewer cooks in the proverbial kitchen, so the model can change and adapt simply and efficiently. Being able to switch direction and respond to changes in changing market forces are the keys to long-term growth.

Agility influences the ability to grow in different directions, one at a time. The ways to grow a small business footprint can for example, encompass physical locations, or an online presence an e-commerce portal, or all three. Lessons learned and skills developed as a small operation provides direction for which turns the business should take and how to get there.

Related: Everything I've Learned from Growing My Startup to 10 Million Users with $0 in Funding

Getting the edge over big brands

Big brands have historically sought to acquire or replicate successful small business ventures.

However, the mere scale of big brands makes it difficult to acquire the same level of expertise that a small owner accrues through experience. Big brands simply cannot grasp everything they need to know about an entrepreneurial business, because they haven't been on a similar growth and learning trajectory.

The struggle associated with starting a small enterprise can truly only be understood by the individual going through it. Starting small forces an entrepreneur in any business to encounter issues firsthand and solve problems in real time as they arise.

Slow and steady wins

Don't believe the start-up mantra of moving fast and breaking things, because going slow and keeping everything on track is better for myriad reasons. For example, building mindfully allows a small business to collect and leverage its customer data. Acquiring, analyzing and acting based on data requires time, effort and building a real understanding of the target marketplace.

When it comes to building a customer base, that means being dedicated to building a committed social media following of customers who are enthusiastic about providing feedback and key data.

Today, many business ventures, filling a niche foreseen by a new generation of entrepreneurs, are likely to attract a younger demographic — so i's important to address the social media presence of both millennials who follow Facebook and Twitter and members of Gen Z who are most likely to be scrolling Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

Related: 6 Tips to Drive Sustainable Business Growth

Over time, satisfied customers become social influencers and are a real asset in crowdsourcing potential brick-and-mortar locations and product selection. In fact, social media is a source to mine data that applies to business decisions across nearly all sectors. Most importantly in terms of future growth, it's thumbs up vs. thumbs down data that drives sustainable plans.

Starting small and growing from within is the best way to build a business. Slow, steady growth helps entrepreneurs maintain a customer-centric attitude and focus on the core product that has helped the business thrive. It also protects entrepreneurs from diluting the core principles of the business. Instead of "go big or go home" and "move fast and break things," entrepreneurs should start small, move slow, then go big – and nothing gets broken.

Mohammad Farraj

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-Founder of Talkin' Tacos

Mohammad Farraj co-founded Talkin’ Tacos which started out as a food truck business in Miami, Florida in 2020. Serving scratch Mexican dishes, the brand now has three corporate locations with another three South Florida corporate locations set to open in 2023 and now franchising opportunities.

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