Go Big or Stay Small

12/29/2008 Uncategorized


That’s the question many of us are asking in this recession. While it certainly applies to the planning and architecture fields, a lot of editorials are focusing on “green” businesses because the industry is in its infancy, at least as a legitimate economic engine (and not just a social/cultural phenomena).

The following snippet is from a Fast Company blog:

Which green companies are best positioned to weather the downturn?

“Well established, international companies like Vestas [one of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers].” says Newsweek. “It’s a very tough time for earlier stage companies.”

CNet’s Green Tech blog says the opposite: “Smaller companies are more likely to survive the current — and coming — lean period… “because younger firms, in general, demand less capital to operate.”

Where you really don’t want to be is caught in the middle, needing a big infusion of capital to get to the next stage. Both sides do agree that the recession will produce a shakeout, putting weaker companies out of their misery, but that green tech is not another dot-com. These companies are aimed at solving real problems and the outlook over the next decade is strong.

A couple relevant points are brought up relative to the planning and architecture fields. The first involves company size; large firms can capitalize on their expertise, existing market penetration and recognizable brand; small firms can stay lean with overhead, be nimble with their market attacks and go after a niche; mid-size firms are the clear losers, unable to play off any of the aforementioned strategies, and with nowhere to go but down. The second point is the idea that green tech is actually solving real problems. As we all reevaluate our business strategies, it would behoove us to look at the focus of our work; are we providing real solutions or superfluous fluff?