In his 2006 book, Small Giants: Companies that Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, Inc. editor-at-large Bo Burlingham defined "small giants" as companies that eschew the mentality of "growth at all costs," in favor of a set of different practices and characteristics.

He described these "small giants" this way:

  • Companies with leaders who know who they are, what they want out of business, and why
  • Companies that are deeply rooted in the community in which they do business
  • Companies that have close, personal ties to customers and suppliers to facilitate business
  • Companies that have intimate cultures that emphasize "caring for people in the totality of their lives," and perpetuate a mutual understanding and appreciation of the responsibilities of owners and employees toward one another
  • Companies led by people with a burning passion for what the company does
  • Companies that operate sound business models that protect gross margins

Does this sound like you, and your company? Or how you want people to view you and your business?

If so, you--like most small giants--probably feel like you have a long way to go before you're understood and your business philosophy is adopted more broadly.

This challenge of running a business that doesn't conform to most conventional definitions of "business success" makes me realize that the leaders that choose to do this need each other.

So I created the Small Giants Community with Bo Burlingham in 2009 and at the end of June we're hosting the second Small Giants International Summit in San Francisco.

Last year, we brought 55 entrepreneurs from 13 countries and five continents to the first ever Small Giants International Summit in Konstanz, Germany. Participants hailed from diverse industries including manufacturing, social investment, consulting, health care, jewelry, catering, sales, publishing, and software design, and the companies they led ranged from solo shops to those with more than 350 employees, or annual revenues of $250,000 to $33 million.

I'm looking forward to two days of intimate dialogue (attendance is limited at 100) with our international peers. I'd like to transform the values-driven methodology of the Small Giant into a greater movement that impacts businesses and people around the world.