Operating at Human Scale

Why is it that “family owned” and “local” resonate with people?

Personally, my wife and I enjoy shopping local. If we are going for the experience and not speed or convenience, we almost always chose locally owned businesses. I think it comes down to service. And I think the service comes down to “made with love.” (Yes, I’m a giant teddy bear.)

People matter… a lot. Like warm butter moves through a napkin, the passion and care seep through.

Here is how it starts: A brand promise must first be delivered to the team. When owners lead well, they equip and reinforce the passion for solving customer problems and delivering a valuable experience. In turn, the team rallies together and reaches for solutions that are truly helpful.

At Little Engine Ventures, we are a family of business owners. Each of us care deeply about treating people with respect and solving real problems. We don’t advertise “family owned” or “local” as we struggle to define precisely what that means… and honestly, we want more people to join our tribe.

Our families work and live alongside our teammates. We share life with our investors. Husbands and wives, in-laws, church friends and friends of friends make up our community. We care about our investments but are not without souls. Our reputation matters. The reality is our collective team rallies behind a vision and faith that one small action after another can compound to great effect. We celebrate the little things while dreaming big.

Honestly, I think it’s all about operating at a human scale. We can know and work with a handful of people day-to-day. Our bigger network can grow but at the most, each of us can closely engage with only around 150 people. These tribes ebb and flow through the life that we share. We intend to live with purpose and invite everyone we meet to act similarly. How can we help you? If life changes, we prefer you move on and communicate with the people that know and care for you most. We will send you off and welcome you back as seasons change.

At the risk of bashing others, let me contrast this with the white washed, legalistic corporation most people fear. Many corporate behemoths require many layers of policy and middle management that can choke the life and authority out of front line employees. We believe people ought to be treated naturally and trust extended. People should make judgement calls to solve customer problems and deliver fantastic moments. We ooze trust rather than thumping policies against guarded minds. Instead, we ask questions like: Would your mother be proud of that behavior? What about your spouse? Your children? Your best friends? Are you being a jerk? How would you want to be treated? These are human scale questions that shape real decisions with a very simple handbook.

Over the last few years I have been hearing a consistent drum of team synchrony. A pair can back each other up. A three strand cord is not easily broken. A pair and a trio make a squad. Two squads make a section. And so on. The drum beat sets the marching pace. Many of our companies are small teams. They cheer on one another and cry together when times are hard. Yet, we scatter to our homes, synchronize with other tribes and rejoin anew each work day. What we deliver is made with love. It’s human and full of flavor.

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