Large businesses have some benefits but also a number of downsides, as small business entrepreneurs will often eagerly point out. Now in a change from what might be expected, entrepreneurs like Martin Leuw are breaking from trend to try out limited cooperation with big corporates in novel business partnerships.
Large corporates have certain advantages such as greater access to lending facilities, an organisational structure, established teams capable of delivering results, and long established contacts.
On the flip-side, large organisations lack the creative start-up culture, original thinking and entrepreneurial drive that are earmarks of new enterprises and start-ups. Large firms tend to follow rather than lead, and rely on systems to continue doing things “the way they’ve always been done” because that’s worked in the past, rather than try out new methods which might be an improvement.
Some successful entrepreneurs that struck it big over time, like Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, are clearly very aware of the benefit of the start-up business mentality, and the innovation that can come from this approach. There are now over 250 separate businesses within the Virgin Group. Each are managed individually, with small groups of people using out of the box thinking to create inspiring products and services with a new twist.
A veteran of many new businesses, Martin Leuw sees potential in a partnership with larger businesses who bring extra resources and a more powerful punch where needed. However, he tries to avoid inertia endemic in large organisations by setting a date when he’ll take his own action if the larger organisation’s project team fail to move forward.
For the large corporations, a collaboration with small businesses may seem an unusual choice yet for management with experience in smaller organisations it can make a lot of sense. Many of their employees have never worked in sub-£5 million turnover businesses and have so have never seen what can be accomplished in this kind of fast-paced, creative environment.