by: Abrams, John
Source: Business Ethics, Vol. 18, no. 2
Is it true that small businesses are just big businesses that haven't succeeded yet? It's a cherished business doctrine that companies must grow or perish. But at South Mountain Co.—a 29-year-old, $6 million architectural and construction firm on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts— we don't believe it. We used to respond directly to demand. Whenever work was offered we accepted it, and if we needed to expand capacity we did. But over time we noticed the sometimes negative effects of growth, and we began to question our passive approach. We now have consistently more opportunities for work than we can handle, but we've decided not to accept them all. We expand with thoughtfulness and deliberation. Part of what makes that possible is the fact that we're employee-owned. The people who own the company and make the decisions are also the people doing the work, which has made us, I suppose, business heretics. We are challenging the false gospel of unchecked growth.
Publication Date: 2004-06-01