We all recognize the popular business cliche, bigger is not always better. It is a nice sentiment, especially if your organization is included in the small category.
To give “big” its due, there are certain advantages to using a big company for certain types of jobs where capital structure or geographic diversity are critical, such as a company that builds commercial jet engines for clients throughout the world or a nationwide restaurant or retail chain.
It makes less sense when you need a specific type of information or expertise. Whether the provider is a boutique firm or a nationwide behemoth makes almost no difference. Price may enter the equation — the nationwide firm probably charges more to cover their larger overhead — but in the end it is the quality of the expertise or knowledge, not price or geographic coverage, that should win out.
Being a big company can stifle creative innovation in the name of efficiencies of standardization. It can limit flexibility in customization of process, pricing or the ability to be nimble to meet a client’s specific needs.
Small firms can have their own limitations but if you are purchasing expertise, size does not matter as long as the person you need to solve your problem, or provide the guidance you require has that knowledge or experience and will be available to personally do the work. Engaging the world’s top thought leader on an issue is not much of a benefit if a less experienced, junior associate does the critical part of the work.
So, if your goal is to get a package from Houston to Seattle overnight or in a day or two, using Sue Ellen’s Courier Service is probably not a good decision. FedEx has a few more resources for that kind of work.
For legal advice on physician contracting or to help an executive you are terminating successfully navigate to a new job, the size of the firm need not be a factor. In the case of the outplacement firm, your departing employee will probably thank you later for going small.