Have you ever heard the saying, “There are no small parts – just small actors”? The same is true of businesses. In business, “small” is a relative term. A regional retail chain may be considered “small” when compared to Walmart, but to the owner, employees, vendors and customers, that same small business is every bit as important as the legendary discount store icon.

Thinking of your business as small can lead to a number of unintended consequences that can, over time, cause your business to fail. Here are some of the detrimental effects of the small business mentality.


The small business mentality can cause you to think defensively. Instead of focusing on how to gain new customers, the small business mentality says you should simply be grateful for the ones you have. By not pursuing new customers, however, you’re essentially ceding the field to your competition.

Over time, your existing customers may begin to wonder why your competitors are growing while your business hasn’t. They may appreciate the personal touch, but they may also question whether your lack of growth is the result of your inferior products or services, and they may defect to the competition.

Fear of Change

For centuries, small family-owned businesses were handed down from generation to generation with each successive generation running them in virtually the same way and on the same scale as the previous one. The small business mentality was comfortable and it worked.

In order to survive in today’s competitive business environment, however, you must be open to change and willing to step outside your comfort zone.  That may mean offering new products or services or embracing new technologies in order to remain competitive. Fear of change can be deadly to your business – big or small.


One of the most insidious effects of the small business mentality is that it causes business owners to wonder if their enterprise is worth it at all. It’s natural to expect your business to grow over time. When it doesn’t, you may find yourself second-guessing why it hasn’t; not realizing that the small business mentality may be a major cause for the lack of growth. The small business mentality is a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to discontent and, in many cases, failure.

Think Big About Your Small Business

Sam Walton started the Walmart empire with a single, small retail operation in Rogers, Arkansas.  From the outset, however, he thought big. Even if your aspirations are somewhat more modest, “thinking big” will improve your chances of success and make the journey much more rewarding.

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