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The holidays are here and – aside from wishing you all a happy new year – we have a gift for those still working on nominations to Forbes Small Giants 2019. Due to a change in the schedule, we are able to extend the deadline for submissions to January 31, 2019. If you know or work for a great small company, please tell us about it no later than January 31 so that we can consider it for inclusion on our next list of 25 Forbes Small Giants. You can find the nomination form here.
There are a few minimum requirements. The company must be at least 10 years old, profitable, and privately owned, with majority control in the hands of inside shareholders. Nominated companies that meet those conditions will then be judged according to the same criteria we’ve used in the past:
- The leaders must be committed to building a great business, even if that means passing up some growth opportunities along the way.
- The company must be the best, or one of the best, at whatever it does, and its customers should find it a joy to do business with.
- It should be maintaining its financial health by having a sound business model, a healthy balance sheet, and steady gross margins.
- Its culture should be designed to bring out the best in its people.
- It should have a strong relationship with its community and be recognized for its contributions outside its industry.
- It should be “human-scale”—that is, not so large that the people at the top no longer have direct contact with lower-level employees, and vice versa.
There’s a sixth factor as well—what I call “mojo.” It’s the business equivalent of charisma. When a leader has charisma, people want to follow him or her. When a business has mojo, people want to be associated with it. They want to buy from it, sell to it, work for it, wear its t-shirts and hats, and so on. Most of us instinctively recognize this quality when we see it, even if we might have trouble explaining exactly what it is or where it comes from.
You can get a sense of the kind of companies we’re looking for by checking out the 2018 list here. Among the great companies we’ve identified in past years are:
Missouri Star Quilt Company—a family business that began with a quilting tutorial on YouTube, became an online sensation, and transformed a tiny town into a tourist destination, the Disneyland of Quilting
Basecamp—the Chicago software development company known for its project management software of the same name and the influential books and management philosophy of co-founder Jason Fried
SRC Holdings—the Missouri engine remanufacturer that pioneered the concept and practice of open-book management, subsequently adopted by thousands of other companies around the world
Zulu Alpha Kilo—the iconoclastic Toronto ad agency that refuses to do “spec work” for potential clients, has a fictitious website, and is shaking up the entire industry while winning a slew of awards, including AdAge’s International Small Agency of the Year in 2017.
Nightlife Pediatrics—a provider of urgent care services for children in Texas that aims to be “the McDonald’s of urgent care” nationwide
Torch Technologies—an employee-owned defense contractor in Huntsville, Alabama, whose cofounder and CEO currently has a goal of turning at least 100 employee-owners into millionaires.
As great as are these and the other Small Giants we’ve identified so far (including the 14 in my book of the same name), they are by no means the only ones out there. Small Giants can be found throughout North America and in every industry. Some of them have joined the Small Giants Community, which will again help us manage the nomination and selection process. Everywhere these companies are located, they are setting new standards for excellence in business with the world-class products and services they provide, the great workplaces they’ve built, the close relationships they have with customers and suppliers, and the huge contributions they’ve made to their communities and to society at large.
And make no mistake: these companies are not the “mom-and-pop” variety that usually come to mind when people talk about “small business.” There is no minimum revenue requirement to be a Forbes Small Giant, and although they are single-mindedly focused on being great, rather than just getting big, many of them have grown substantially. Several have hundreds of employees and more than $100 million in annual revenue. What they share is a refusal to grow at any cost. They won’t sacrifice their values to get bigger, and they don’t measure their success by their size or rate of growth.
Given such priorities, they have to be very careful about how and where they get any outside capital they may need. They can only take it from investors who understand the company may pass up some opportunities to increase their return on investment because of other, value-based goals they have.
If this description sounds like a company you know, we are very interested in hearing from you. Most of the companies on our list are those we learn about through your nominations. So, again, you can find the nomination form here. We greatly appreciate any help you can give us in identifying the best small companies in America!
December 31, 2018 at 07:47PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs