Don’t you just love those Saturday afternoons when you have an open social calendar? I know, for most of you that doesn’t happen too often, unless you have kids, in which case you might ask, “What social calendar?”
Those afternoons are perfect for napping, or binge-watching series, or vegging on the couch doing absolutely nothing at all. Occasionally, my wife and I use this time to go for a stroll in our neighbourhood. This is a great opportunity to give our dogs a “night out on the town”.
For the dog lovers among you, we have two adorable canines. One is a Miniature Pinscher. She is a proud little madam who prances when she walks, not dissimilar to a show pony. She is an absolute treat, walking at a steady pace out front enjoying the great outdoors, which considering her size, is great indeed.
Our other dog is a magnificent steed. He is a Pekingese. It is a small breed of dog, fluffy and fierce. He carries his head high, relatively speaking of course, and appreciates as many smells and fragrances as possible. They are called lion dogs. They look like miniature lions and certainly have the hearts of kings. (For more on puppy personalities check out this great resource.)
He asserts his authority every chance he gets, barking in an unintimidating, high pitch while charging down the gates of every poor peasant dog that dares to acknowledge his approach with disdain or aggression.
I find each of these interactions very amusing. Knowing that they are very vulnerable little dogs. With exposed eyes and short jaws, they would come second in pretty much any fight. This does not deter him whatsoever.
As vulnerable as this champion of small dogs is, he helps me realize something. He may be small and insignificant, yet he is the one owning the bigger space. He roams the streets unhindered, unchallenged and free. The larger more imposing dogs foam at the mouth, bark, and growl with intent and aggression, yet they remain constrained by the limits of their yard.
In our minds, there is no world in which a small dog is more powerful than a big dog. The irony is, the very world we live in is precisely such a world. Big dogs are considered dangerous and threatening. They must be on leashes and in yards. Restricted all the time due to the threat they pose. Small dogs live unrestrained because they seem to pose a lesser threat. They have a cute factor that makes people ‘aah’ at the way they try to be dogs asserting their authority.
This is precisely the world young entrepreneurs face. They try to build businesses in a world that does not take them seriously. Their bark is appreciated for its cute factor rather than its imposing authority. They walk around making their presence known to the ‘big dogs’ who aggressively retaliate with barks and growls.
Just like in our neighbourhood, the big organizations are stuck behind a fence. They are threatening and therefore must be regulated and watched. Their ability to respond to market forces is hindered and challenging. They may be big, but their yards have limits. They threaten the small dogs to scare them from marking territory right outside the fence.
The truth is, this small dog has a major advantage. It can mark as much territory as it wants, as long as it’s outside the fence. It can rule a much bigger space because it is not threatening.
As an entrepreneur, your cute factor is your biggest advantage. Not being taken seriously is the best thing that could ever happen to you. I encourage all entrepreneurs that your size is much less relevant than the belief in your heart.
Find someone willing to take you on walks to show you the boundaries of the big dogs’ yards. You will notice a world of opportunity. You will find unmarked territory all over your neighbourhood.
I encourage you to be brave in the face of the threat. Whether you are an intrapreneur facing the bureaucracy that comes with the structure in bigger business, or an entrepreneur building the next big business; the bark is most certainly bigger than the bite.
The big businesses need you. Whether inside or outside of their formal structure it is you, the dreamer, the visionary, the woman on the ground seeing problems and solutions from which many decision-makers are too far removed, that offers a fresh perspective on old problems.
You harbour innovations you owe the world. Do not cower in fear because you are self-conscious about your size. We live in a world where the small dogs are free, free to do what the big dogs want to do, but can’t.