There's a case to be made against small business. That's right, you just read that here in the pages of Inc. I'm reacting in part to National Small Business Week, which this year runs from April 25 through April 29.
What do I mean? Obviously, there's nothing wrong with small businesses per se. I just don't like the label. "Small business" is diminutive. It's belittling. It understates the vast creativity and importance of the American entrepreneurial economy. Worse, when the economy is divided into big and small, it becomes dangerously easy to dismiss or ignore the concerns of the very businesses we ought to be paying the most attention to -- in everything from crafting the case studies taught in business schools to drafting important pieces of federal legislation. (If you don't believe there's a problem, talk to a successful business owner about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.)
Each month, Inc. tells the stories of companies that achieve great things without massive bureaucracy or enormous amounts of capital. Consider the extraordinary achievement of Inc.'s 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year, Burt Rutan, who put a civilian into space last year using private funds. Or Steve Lipscomb, the subject of this month's cover story. He's turned the game of poker into a national phenomenon and one of the hottest businesses around (see page 80). Is it right to think of either Burt's or Steve's operation as small? Let's throw out the old
labels. Maybe we should divide companies into the entrepreneurial and the bureaucratic. Or even better: dumb companies (think Boeing, Worldcom, etc.) and smart companies (Scaled Composites and WPT Enterprises). Size does matter, but it's not all about revenue and capital formation. Sometimes what matters most is the size of an entrepreneur's dream.