‘Small’ Wins in Sustainable Business

Jamie McIlhatton
2 min readMay 27, 2022
Photo by Kristin Wilson on Unsplash

I’m sat here, on a Friday night, beer in hand, just pondering over some of the small, super inspirational companies I’ve read about this week.

I work exclusively with small businesses; which is a strange thing to say when SME’s make up over 99.9% of the Private Sector here in the UK.

They really excite me. The reason for that, is I firmly believe they have the power to shape society, the market and ultimately government policy. Yes, even the micro, tiny businesses.

When anyone underestimates the power of the small business; I think of the classic Yellowstone National Park Case Study we had drilled into us at Uni. In 1995, they reintroduced a small pack of wolves to the park, 31 to be precise.

Nobody was expecting much to change in the short term, but the wolves began hunting the elk. Elk populations fell, and they became more cautious, moving around more, grazing less; allowing the grass and trees to recover.

The greater number of trees created stability in the soil and developed root systems which altered the course of the rivers. Introducing a small number of wolves, ultimately changed the physical geography of one of the largest national parks in the world. That was only one of the many profound impacts their reintroduction had.

The moral of the story is that change can ripple through a well-established system and sometimes all it takes is a simple alteration or addition.

When it comes to sustainability in business, being small allows you to be agile. To try new ideas, take risks and be able to make quick iterations. They’re lean as opposed to the ‘heavier’ larger corporations who have shareholders to keep happy; weighed down by profit & growth targets.

Yes, larger corps have always had the financial advantage; they can throw greater weight at research & development. But what if the lack of money is a competitive advantage too? After all, being forced to be resourceful is one the key attributes to any sustainability process.

When mission led, and united, small businesses can be a pretty formidable force to holding larger companies to account and ultimately achieving a more sustainable future.

Jamie McIlhatton

Sustainability Consultant and Owner of @smallmatterofsustainability // A Restaurant owner just trying to take my own advice...