As entrepreneurs, there's always that pressure to 'go big or go home.' If you're building an online knitting-kit business, for example, you might feel like you need to urgently expand with multiple product lines just to prove your legitimacy--even if you're not ready to take that step or don't think it's the direction you want to take your business.

Ask Sharon Rowe, who founded Ecobags 30 years ago, and she'll tell you that there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a tiny and these 10 businesses have also had great success staying small. 

And, in her new book, The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don't Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living, she writes that too many of us feel like we need to build huge businesses in order to feel successful, which is crazy considering over a million small businesses sell on Amazon.

So why not rethink your strategy and embrace the idea of building a tiny company? You might want to consider it, especially since Rowe says 'tiny' doesn't refer to size--or profit potential. Instead, it's a mindset.

"Like a tiny house where there's limited space for 'stuff,' a tiny business requires that you examine, prioritize and work with what you value and eliminate what you don't," says Rowe who started the first reusable bag company in the U.S. and, at one point, reached revenues of $3 million.

When thinking about how big you want your company to be, consider these three core principles:

Build upon goals. You want to build something that answers a problem you want to solve, helps build a community you want to make and, of course, makes money, too, Rowe says.

Embrace change. Realize that the size of your business will change over time--and depending on market factors, Rowe says.

Filter out opportunities. "I looked for opportunities that matched my goals in terms of revenue, growth and also use of time," she says. "That meant filtering out requests that were outside our core competencies."

How did all of this lead her to build a company that reached $3 million in revenue?

Rowe says she was never overly concerned with how big the company would get.

"I had more of a 'build it and they will come' approach," she says. "I knew that if I had quality products and services and could be part of as many relevant conversations as possible, whether that was marketing, events or online, that I would get the business. This kept my listening open for real opportunities like The Oprah Winfrey Show, which then led to Estee Lauder finding us."

For Rowe, staying tiny is good for work/life balance, too.

"I kept my overhead low and, because of that, I didn't put myself into any uncomfortable or tight financial positions," she says. "I was more concerned with growing the business reasonably so that it wouldn't compromise my off-time or family time than going for big projects that would consume me and possibly deliver lower returns."

In the end it was all about managing risk/reward ratio.

"I knew I would rather run a tight ship and run lean, than risk what I had for growth," she says. "I was comfortable growing slowly and saying "no" to projects that I didn't want to do."

Published on: May 9, 2018
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of