Recently I've come to appreciate how important names and labels can be. It's much easier to ignore a phenomenon if it has no name. I suspect that's one reason why the Small Giants phenomenon -- that is, companies choosing to be great instead of big -- has been ignored up to now: It hasn't had a name.
These thoughts come to mind as a result of a meeting the staff of Inc. had last Friday with Timothy Faley and Mary Nickson of the Zell Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, which is affiliated with the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We naturally began discussing the different types entrepreneurial companies. Dr. Faley explained that the institute was formed to leverage the University's enormous research base and thus focused on the fast-growing, venture-backed companies. He and Ms. Nickson noted that there were programs at community colleges to support people who wanted to start restaurants, salons, clothing stores, and the like. What about other types of entrepreneurial businesses? we asked. They said that they also saw people who wanted to have lifestyle businesses.