Small Business and Big Business Focus – the Barbell

Small Business and Big Business Focus – the Barbell


Olympic Barbells

As work continues on the Sales Training Weekly course and the Tap the Hidden Job Market course, I’ve been relying on a visual that may help you define the focuses and challenges of small businesses and larger businesses. For this illustration, I’m defining small business as under 500 employees and large businesses as over 500 employees and I’m going to use my old banking world as an example. Take a look at this graphic:


In it, I’ve lumped all of the small regional banks on to one side of the barbell and the large nationwide banks into the other side. My little scribbles illustrated where this particular bank fit into the bigger picture. On one side are the community and regional banks. They tend to be more sensitive to competition, are looking for staff that can serve multiple roles and the problems we work on are related to People in respect to training/hiring and Process in respect to getting the most from their internal best practices.

The contrast is in the big national banks located on the other side of the barbell. Those big banks don’t have quite the sensitivity to competition because in a sense, they’ve “made it”. Their hiring tends to be much more specific because they are able to leverage specialists much more readily than the smaller banks. Lastly, the problems they focus on tend to be organizational in nature as in “how do we get all these people to work together”.

The bar represents the journey that a regional bank must make in becoming a big national bank. Going the other direction, the bar represents the challenges a big bank has in becoming more responsive to local communities served by the regional banks. Stepping out on to the “danger zone” exposes the bank to the pressures faced by both sides of the barbell (as well as providing opportunities served by both sides).

So what, you ask?

The point I’m making when using the barbell analogy is that your focus and your solution set to problems when you’re a regional player aren’t the same as those of your larger cousins. And vice versa. The big entity looking to adopt traits of their smaller cousins isn’t going to transfer directly into your organization. And the more you drift into the area between, that “bar” on the barbell, the more risk you are exposing the successful adoption of your solution to.

As with all visuals and analogies, it gives you and your co-communicator something to hold on to. A “definition of terms” to help get all the parties on the same page.

Good stuff.

About the Author: Greg Chambers is Chambers Pivot Industries. Get more business development ideas from Greg on Twitter.