“I don’t want to be too… ‘corporate’.”
I probably hear that 4-5 times a week. There is this negative association with corporations, as though doing anything that they do makes you somehow less noble, less helpful, almost evil. Like to be fully corporate, you would have to run your business with a board of advisers that meet in a shadowy back alley – outside the fringes of the law.
I’ve heard that a bit more than usual this week, and it was my call to say this to you:
Stop saying that.
Do you know why corporate marketing looks different from small business marketing? Is it because they’re evil, or manipulative, or distant and uncaring?
No, no, and no.
It looks different because it is. Corporations are marketing on a massive scale. They’re building brand associations, they’re creating a platform, they’re reaching hundreds of thousands, millions, and even billions of potential customers with their marketing.
They’re partnering with big name brands, getting major media attention every time they use the washroom or hire a new janitor, and just generally dominating their market.
Corporate marketing can feel impersonal because it can’t be one-on-one to hundreds of millions of people. How many personal emails or phone calls have you received from someone at Coca-Cola or Pepsi to get you to buy their products? That isn’t because they don’t care about their mission or their customers, it is simply that they’ve found more effective ways to reach you.
Many of you are probably saying “but I don’t want to be as big as Coke or Pepsi, so this doesn’t apply to me.” But, my friend, it absolutely does – and I know it does because I cause breakthroughs around this very challenge every week. For people just like you. (This is where you lean in and read intently…)
Being “corporate” isn’t what you’re afraid of.
In fact, being “corporate” just represents what you’re really afraid of. Something that scares the sh!t out of many of you, really.
Yes, there are some corporations that hurt people – no denying it. There are also people that hurt people, and with the negative focus of modern media, it is getting harder and harder to avoid hearing about them.
Microsoft has done some semi-evil things over the years (anti-trust lawsuit, anyone?) But did you know that they provide good paying jobs to over 100,000 people worldwide? That the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working to solve world hunger with grants that also create dozens of jobs in developing countries?
But I forgot – you don’t want to be “corporate.” Why is that? Well, I think…
You’re avoiding playing a bigger game.
Because calling Sally over at Sally’s Health Spa to partner on a presentation to 10 of her best customers is easier than calling up Centrum and partnering with them to present your offerings to 10M people worldwide, right?
Because calling the local newspaper editor to share your story is easier than calling a journalist at People Magazine or TIME or The Wall Street Journal, right?
Because sitting there selling your own time and knowledge is easier than creating a product that can be replicated with or without you, right?
When you *are* the business, either you’re there and making money… Or you’re not there, and not making money. It is easier to do that than to scale, because your business getting bigger means you need to work a lot more – right?
Because staying small is easier than getting big, right?!?
But is it really?
A phone call to Sally and Centrum will take the same amount of time, and Sally is less familiar with promotional partnerships than Centrum is… She’ll probably take more convincing.
A call to the local newspaper editor won’t likely get you far, unless you’re in the local “clique” of important people… And because he is the only editor, it will probably take you weeks to chase him down. A quick email pitch to the editor at WSJ could be done in 5 minutes.
Selling your time and knowledge is easier at the beginning, when you don’t have a product to sell… But it is impossible to scale, and you end up owning your own job if you don’t evolve beyond that. “Well, if I want to make another $5k this year, I could work another 15 hours a week…” *shudder*
When you own a business and you grow enough to put someone else in charge, you sit around and help steer the vision of the company when you have time… All while getting a nice income from your creation.
Staying small isn’t easier than getting big.
Really, it isn’t. There are hundreds of thousands of companies out there trying to stay small. There are hundreds of companies calling Sally and John the Editor, hundreds of thousands selling their own time and knowledge.
The playing field opens up for the few who step up and play a bigger game. There’s just less competition the closer you get to the top.
So what are you really afraid of? Is it being corporate? Is it playing a bigger game? Is it working too many hours? Is it solving world hunger and creating 100k jobs?
You’re afraid that you’re not good enough.
Who are you to call up Centrum, or WSJ? Who are you to create a product that sells millions of units per month, or to hire someone else to run your company? Who are you to build a company that helps millions, employs hundreds of thousands, generates billions in revenue, and doing it all while you’re enjoying your life?
Here is what I want you to understand: You don’t have to be good enough.
I mean, you already are, but you don’t have to be the best to have a huge impact and enjoy your life. You don’t have to create something amazing from scratch, or be the biggest innovator. Facebook is a publicly traded corporation worth billions, and they were a MySpace copycat. Apple is the same way, and they pay royalties on upwards of 100 patents for every single iPhone they sell.
You don’t need to be the best to have a huge impact, to change the world, to become a millionaire or a billionaire. In fact, to play a bigger game, you only need these:
They’re big, they’re brass, and they are the only difference between Bill Gates and that dude down the street who builds PCs in his basement. Mr. Gates had the “equipment” to walk into IBM’s office and strike a deal to put his operating system (one that he didn’t even create, he basically swiped it from Xerox) on every single PC they built, and pay him for it. That is what made Microsoft what it is today.
Now ask yourself, and be honest:
Do you want to help lots of people?
Do you want to be financially free?
Do you want to enjoy your life?
Do you want people to admire you for your accomplishments and your contribution to this world?
Then stop playing small.
You don’t have to sacrifice yourself and your priorities, you don’t have to be something you’re not, you don’t have to work like a dog or lie, cheat, and steal. You just have to have the courage to step up, to put yourself out there, to align with people who are bigger than you are today, and to keep pushing until you make it.
Here is your challenge:
Do one thing, every day, that takes courage.
It could be that call to a big name magazine, or a partnership proposal to a Fortune 500 Company, or pitching a guest blog post to The Huffington Post, or sending one of your products to an A-List celebrity asking for their support.
Do one thing every day that pushes you into a bigger game.
Even if you decide to stay small anyway, being small is a lot more fun when you’ve got big support.