This post was originally published as a guest column in the Birmingham Business Journal.
Much is made in the press about our community’s business-support efforts.
But if you read and watch carefully, this support is concentrated on the ends of the spectrum – very large businesses on one end, and startups/very small businesses on the other. These are the “sexy ones,” it seems.
As a longtime business owner and proponent of “unsexy,” locally owned, midsized businesses, I see these not-small and not-large businesses as a way to change our communities, state and the world for the better.
But if you own a business with say, between 10 and 250 employees, you’re likely neither a start-up that will attract lots of incubator-type attention, nor a behemoth that has tax-abatement negotiating power.
If you wish to grind out your business growth without investors, or build your own business quietly under the radar, you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to scaling up your business. And, fans of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” novel probably like it that way.
But don’t despair! While they get little media or government attention as to how to scale up, there is a vibrant community of privately led efforts designed to develop privately held businesses in the mid-market. If you’re in that group or want to be, you should be aware of them.
Scaling up, according to Optimize for Growth author Jonathan B. Smith, involves an intentional use of three main ingredients to develop the talent of the mid-sized business leader and his/her top team:
Stuck in the middle - or want to be? Don’t look for governmental help or a lot of coverage as to what’s available. Start asking around — you’ll find Birmingham has plenty of hidden sources.
If you are looking for further reading, look into “16 Surprising Statistics about Small Business” by Jason Nazar, which ran in Forbes on Sept 9, 2013.
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