I have found that big-company managers often fail to make a successful transition to small companies. First, they underestimate the important role that the vast resources available in the large company played in their success. Second, they ignore the fact that the decision-making process in the large company evolves from staff input, task forces, strategic planners, and so on.

In small companies there is no staff. Vice-presidents and department heads are usually too busy to participate in more than one or two task forces per year, and data such as market studies are seldom available. The small-business manager is often forced to make decisions quickly.

Barry Merkin is described as a good listener who lets others thrash out and make the decisions. That approach to management seldom works in small companies. It takes too long, and management is usually too thin. Merkin is successful not necessarily because he is strong in every aspect of management, but because he had the good sense to put together a strong team.