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Who is your big business relative?

Getting inspiration from the giants

It’s true that you can’t choose your family.

But when you look beyond blood relatives to the world of business, relations are yours for the choosing.

Need a strong father figure? Look to that international conglomerate for guidance. Seeking inspiration? Turn to your creative cousin in the form of a leading magazine publisher.

Whatever your shortfall there’s a business that, just like your parents or grandparents, has ‘been there and done that’ (and probably got the proverbial t-shirt) for you to learn from. Likewise, there are big businesses that simply stand out to the aspiring start-ups and SMEs as being similar in goals and ethos – the only difference being size.

With that in mind, who is your big business relative? Who do you look up to? Learn from? Follow? Is it the domination of Amazon that excites you? Facebook’s seamless integration, which you strive for? Or the charm and accessibility of IKEA, perhaps?

Know who you are

To figure out your figurative family tree, first look at your brand personality and workplace culture. Every business has a character – its own unique set of traits and eccentricities that makes it identifiable and unforgettable. From Dyson (intuitive and inventive) to Disney (excitable and enchanting) each brand is unique in its personality. Naturally, we share similar personality traits to our fellow family members – so the same applies in business.

Find a big business that relates to these traits (don’t be daunted by its size, and instead, see it as an opportunity to learn) and you will be in the position to map onto its decisions, partnerships, brand movements, messaging – its whole timeline of activity. Most importantly in that timeline, look back to the early days – what were they doing at your age? Indeed it is motivating to aspire to the ‘big boys’ (and girls) and where they are now, but it is more realistic to compare to and learn from a business position and age that is applicable to where you are in your journey.

The Nestlés, Nikes and NPowers of the world did not begin their journey the size they are now. And it’s likely they had their big business relative to learn from. Now 15 years old and with over 450 staff, Moneypenny too started small, but now with our #ServiceFirst series and ongoing business tips, we aim to provide advice for business of all shapes and sizes, and in particular, those smaller than Moneypenny. An expert in customer service, we want to share our knowledge.

Learn your lessons from the big guys

This idea of learning from our business relatives is what drives business innovation and continues business growth. For example, the sense of community created digitally by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube has been the impetus for countless digital companies in pursuit of the same objective, but from a different slant. And that’s the beauty of family: mirror not mimic. For instance, the digital health platform Headspace strives for that same sense of community that the leading social media platforms achieve, not to mention the intuitive, user-friendly design, yet offers something as unique as guided meditation sessions.

Though, that’s not to say that a start-up coffee shop will map onto Starbucks for its business inspiration (and it’s possible they may even use a global coffee chain as a guideline of what not to do). Your big business relative is not necessarily an immediate family member – perhaps they’re a step brother, or mother-in-law – so a boutique clothes shop may not find the inspiration they’re looking for in Zara, and may instead seek it from the Tate galleries. Or a farm shop selling locally-sourced produce may not naturally aspire to the ‘big four’ supermarkets – yet London’s Borough Market could provide all the insight they need for their next business step.

Families are complicated. Marriage, divorce, children, extended family, pets! But one thing’s simple – there’s plenty to learn. Seek inspiration from the businesses that you can relate to, and it’ll be happy families.

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