This is a repost from Tuthanh's blog, the founder of Symphony Themes. The original article is available at: http://tuthanh.com/blog/be-proud-when-you-are-small

What do you think when your team is down from 10+ to 2? Move from a 100m2 office full of office equipments to a 20m2 simple one?

I started the 2011 year with a large office, a team of 10 staffs including developers, designers and an accountant, chasing a dream of becoming a large technology company with different cool products. After a year, I have 2 permanent staffs including me, moved to a much smaller office and focus on one or two projects only.

Many people call it a setback. I call it an advantage.

In these recent weeks, I still wonder can I continue this stuff for long. In everybody's mind, you look great when you have more people. When people ask you about your company size, I reply "20-30 staffs", they often say "Wow, great". Now I say "2 staffs", they say something to show their politeness.

And when I read the 37signal's book "Rework", it eases my mind. It said:

"Don't be insecure about aiming to be a small business. Anyone who runs a business that's sustainable and profitable, whether it's big or small, should be proud."

Yes, why do I care about the size when I am having the best time in my business life so far. I am less mass. I released burdens and I am free to choose, free to adapt and free to change. I turn a profitless company in 3 consecutive years into a effective and profitable one. 

When I enjoy to be small, I actually realize many benefits of a smal team

1. Don't have to beg for projects

A large team requires huge salaries and other expenses. It places burdens to me to find alot of projects. I used to take whatever projects in order to earn money for the team. Some projects were profitable, alot of others dragged me down fast with overbudget and overschedule. 

Now, I don't have to beg for projects. I can choose what I like to do while still return handsome money. I even have a waiting list of customers.

2. Less expenses

When you hire a permanent staff, it costs a lot more than his salary. You have to count the office space, social insurance, rewards, sick leaves, the amount of time you spend to train and manage him and the cost to fix his mistakes. These expenses are increased 10 times when you hire 10 permanent staffs.

I used to win alot of projects but the money kept on going away easily. That is because of many excess expenses that I did not recognize earlier. When I downsize, I start to see profits.

3. Outsource more and get better service quality

When you set a high salary package with a new employee, he may be happy first. After several months, it becomes just a ordinary money that he thinks he deserves it. He may get less motivated and you will need more methods to keep him alive.

When I am small, I cannot do all the jobs, so I outsource more. Surprisingly, I receive better quality services. It is because I have more options to choose from wide range of service providers instead of only giving work for my staffs. I can find much better providers without monthly payments. Many providers are very professional because they are only get paid for what delivered. 

4. No office politics 

For a large company, there are always people who complain rather than cooperate. They are good at talking and they can draw many other people on their sides. You will not recognize it easily because you are concentrating doing more important jobs. Slowly, they are sneaking to company culture and separate the team in small groups which can cooperate with each others. When you realize, it may become too late.

I had this kind of office politics before. I thought I can change people, but unfortunately, those good talkers are much more capable than me in persuading. I used to hate to go to work, to be seated in the office of hostile air. Now I am enjoy to be around with a few people that I love to work with everyday.

5. No artificial project.

Artificial projects are projects you come up with in order to keep your staffs busy without containing real values. When you have more employees, you may have alot of those. They usually generate unnecessary stresses and demoralize the team. No one wants to work for a project that will not bring any essential benefits. You, as the manager, will not feel happy about it at all.

With my small team, I always know what I have to do. They are always important and necessary.

6. Easy to adapt and change

A large enterpise takes years to pivot. They are afraid of changes naturally because changes affect alot of people. I can change easily because the changing cost is little. I can make a try with new ideas and new technology fast and keep on doing something new.

I can run my business well in the recent economic crisis. The ability to change and adapt faster gives me more chance to survive.

So when you are small, you don't have to pretend to be big. Please enjoy to be small.

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