Big Does Not Mean Success

Scale and size do not have to be regarded as business utopia.

Reaching out to others and capturing their attention is not easy, it certainly isn’t easy when you live a life striving for something bigger.

This article looks at why scale should not always be your goal. Bigger is not always better, resonating with the right people is. Big does not mean success.

Size Is Not An Objective

At a recent You Are The Media Lunch Club the topic was ‘why events are hard.’ The whole session was open and honest. It did not move to a self promotional tirade. 

One thing I took from the Lunch Club was that when it comes to putting on an event, it is wrong to put size and scale as an objective. By this I mean the goal to get anyone and everyone to come to what you put on. It’s the vision to sell out a large venue. The problem is that if you do not have a bank of work to share with people, or you don’t have people signed up with your message, you will struggle.

This is where people fall into a pit of fire. Whilst we all need to set expectations for ourselves, when it does not resonate with others, it can become a waste of time. It is the process of creating and accumulating over time, that gives you the freedom to do good work. Similar to reading a book, you invest time to get to the end, you don’t skip pages to get to the last page in the quickest time. 

Your work should not be about pursuing more:

— More podcast listeners do not matter

— More LinkedIn connections do not matter

— More website visits do not matter

— More video views do not matter

What matters is what you do, has meaning with others. 

Sharing The Evidence

Bigger is not better, smaller can be better. You have to be patient.

Back in 2016, I started the You Are The Media Lunch Club with no intention to get to a finishing line. It was all about creating something with minimal risk. 

If no-one wanted the Lunch Club and there was limited demand, then it could be quickly shelved. However, I knew that with the weekly You Are The Media email, there was a growing audience where I had every intention of bringing people from behind their screen and be together. The email is the thing that connects everyone, it still is today.

By starting small, it meant that over time it could become better. I had a place to refine my presentation skills, I could tinker with the way that I interviewed people, I could practice how I talked with others. 

Bigger is not better, smaller can be better, but better is better.

Over time, I realise that You Are The Media is about the connections that people make and the relationships they can build with others. In a recent article I highlighted, how community activity that happens independent of its creator’s involvement is proof of the strength of that community, you can read that here.

Starting small can help you and let you plan. 

The only reason I committed to the You Are The Media conference in 2018 was from two years of offline events and I had a breakeven of 50 people to attend. The first year for the You Are The Media Conference was 117 attendees, in 2019, we sold out the venue (Shelley Theatre), which is 150 places. We will have one more year at Shelley Theatre, before I decide if it is time for a larger space (but holding on as long as I can to the intimacy of Shelley Theatre).

You can set yourself up for failure if you are stepping into an arena with big intentions if you do it from a standing start. 

What About You

The temptation to go big and get the glory sits within our ego. 

A goal should not be scaling something as quickly as possible, it is about crafting something that people care about. If 15 people turn up for your first event, that is fine, as long as you set the intention to keep working from something manageable. This is better than 15 people turning up to a 150 capacity room.

Starting small lets you focus on what you can do.

To get to a place of volume, takes effort, practice and insight from others. You have to spend time getting it right in a smaller space and perhaps the smaller space is for you. For instance, the You Are The Media Podcast, there is a predominance of listeners within the south of England. This is perfect when it comes to reaching out for the 2020 You Are The Media Conference. It is meaningless having thousands of listeners from overseas, who would never incline to head to Bournemouth for the event. Reaching thousands of ears, but no engagement is meaningless and also misleading.

When it comes to asking others to commit to you, here is why it is important to switch to better is better. This could be from a sign-up to a paying to come to something you are organising.

Focus on what only you can do.

A message from the recent Lunch Club was that you have to let others know why they should invest time and money in you, so you don’t look and feel the same as alternative choices.


When you start, bring in what you need to make it work without huge overheads.

If you want to deliver a seminar on branding, don’t book a room for £250 if you currently have no place that shares your insights on branding. If you are starting with no library of evidence, be prepared to prove to a lot of people you are worth their time and do it resourcefully. Just because you know you are accomplished with your delivery and thought process, does not mean anyone else will know.

—  Put in the time, practice and effort.

You have to take action, stand back and then see what happens. Reading blogs is useful, but writing one is better, it lets you document and see a path that changes direction over time.

Recognise what winning means to you.

It could be having the confidence to present, it could be the ability to pay for two holidays a year, it could be more time with the family. It doesn’t have to be reaching out to a mass of strangers in the quickest possible time.

Figure out retention.

Once you have something to say that others can connect with is when you can move someone from a stranger to a subscriber. No amount of amplification is going to help you, when you sound and look exactly the same. 

Always ask people how things are getting on.

Continual evaluation and asking for feedback is vital to check in and validate new ideas. This is about trying to figure things out and acknowledge that the input from others is important if you intend to grow and have longevity. Asking the right questions, becoming informed and then actioning provides you with so much value for you to succeed.

Let’s Round-Up

Scale is not the answer, having meaning over time puts you in a stronger place and allows you to grow. 

You can still make profit margins by practicing and perfecting your craft over time.  

You have to care deeply about what others take from you, not just how big it’s going to be.

Rather than starting with the grand vision of delivering something big, whether that is a blog that is read by tens of thousands of people or an event that is housed in a large space, why not start by creating something meaningful? When you have meaning, you can then start thinking about size.   

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