Trade Show TalesBlog

Why Small Businesses Fail to Grow

April 11th, 2012 COMMENTS

Excerpt from the “Art of Running a Small Business”

Many, if not most, Classic Exhibits distributors fall into the small business classification as defined by the Small Business Administration. Small businesses have challenges that larger businesses do not. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a Fortune 500 executive waltz into a small display company, sometimes as an investment or a “retirement” job, only to stumble badly. They simply did not understand how to manage and grow a small business.

During the recession, you undoubtedly worked very hard to maintain your business. Now, with the economy improving, I thought I’d share an article from The New York Times, written by Jay Goltz. It’s a quick read and a sobering reminder of the “10 Reasons Small Businesses Fail to Grow.” Enjoy and let me know if you agree.

“There are many reasons some small companies grow and others hit a wall. There are external factors like market size, competition and demand. But there are also internal factors that have to do with operations and leadership. In every industry, there are companies that grow and dominate, while others stagnate or shrink and ultimately fail. Here are what I believe to be the 10 factors that separate the two:

1. Complacency. An important aspect of corporate culture, a popular topic these days, is how driven the company is. A small company is usually a reflection of the owner’s needs, desires and personality. Some owners want to take over the world, and some are happy making a living. Still others just want to golf as much as possible. There’s nothing wrong with that — unless you work there and want to grow with the company.

2. The right people. You cannot build a company without the right people. This requires both a great hiring protocol and the stomach to make the changes that become necessary as the company grows. This is easier said than done — especially when it turns out that people who were “right” at the beginning are no longer “right” in their roles as the company grows. The ability to manage these issues might be something of a gift, although it’s also nice to have some luck. But it mostly takes dedication to the process.

3. Lack of standards and controls. This covers a lot of territory, including quality, service and problem resolution. Whether a company enjoys a 97 percent customer satisfaction rate or a 93 percent rate will have a significant impact on the size of a company over the long run. It’s not enough to have high standards without implementing the control systems that assure those standards are met. Without the controls, you will have good intentions accompanied by bad results.” [continue]

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or


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