Ravi Kiran
I help ambitious businesses in Middle India scale. Rapidly and properly.

How Small is Big Enough

The favorite phrase the world uses to describe businesses which have not yet reached a certain size is SME, sometimes referred to as SMB, the Small and Medium Enterprises. World over, Governments and industry associations take extra care to nurture such businesses through regulatory support, exposure through training and workshops, and financing. That’s the good part of being an ‘SME’.


Then there is the part that many businesses find a tad insulting. This is what I started discovering as I started a very interesting and ongoing field trip to understand businesses in India’ Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns, beginning January 2011. First thing that hit me is that not all SMEs are similar in their world view, their history and their ambition. And not everyone wants to remain small or medium just so that they can be treated with kid gloves.

It’s a simple observation, but if you sit down and think about it, the underlying issue is quite inspiring and sometimes, disturbing. While there are a lot of advantages to being small in size, businesses which have a real big ambition, somehow don’t feel flattered being called SME. They would rather be big, employ hundreds and thousands of people, drive great social value in the communities in which they live and create a legacy the future generations will be proud of. While collectively they are lauded for their contribution to GDP and employment, individually they are mostly treated with a tone of patronization and condescension.

Years ago, the small or medium entrepreneur didn’t mind that, partly because his ambition was limited. That world is no more. Ambition has a new meaning and a new address today and the earlier we recognize it, the better for our common good.

Some people say, “what’s in a name?” In my view, a lot. No matter what your child’s height, how would you like it if his friends call him ‘shorty’?


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Kudos to you for building a business around ambition. Thanks for making ambition sexy.
Ravi Kiran
As a child, I used to wonder where mosquitoes in winter hide, why fish keep swimming, how birds learn to fly and other such 'un-natural' occurrences. After a career in marketing & communications for over 20 years, building and running businesses of excellent size and in many a geography, hiring and training dozens of successful managers, I continue to be aggressively curious about beings and things.

Today, as a founding partner in Friends of Ambition, a growth advisory company three friends of mine and I started recently specifically with the aim of assisting and guiding ambitious businesses in India’s mid-sized towns [we call them Middle India] in chasing their dreams, I am curious about 1st and 2nd generation business owners in that geography. As I often find myself in cities and towns I might have only heard of just a few months ago, meet business owners there and hear their stories, dreams and challenges, I feel a sense of elation and sadness, sometimes simultaneously.

This blog is a chronicle of my experiences in Middle India - mostly gleaned from real life encounters with business owners, their influencers and well wishers.

Scaling a business is something I have been fortunate to learn firsthand, as I helped build and ran several businesses for Starcom MediaVest Group, a part of Paris based Publicis Groupe, as its CEO- South East and South Asia.
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January 04, 2012 02:25 am by Amith Prabhu
Kudos to you for building a business around ambition. Thanks for making ambition sexy.