Recession has tilted the field toward smaller, flexible firms.

How to start and grow companies.
July 30 2010 6:48 PM

Welcome to the Little-Guy Economy

Recession has tilted the field toward smaller, flexible firms.

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Growth is essential, too, whether pay, community, or stickiness drives it. "What's frustrating about entrepreneurship is that at each level there's a key thing you need to do and graduate, but there's no gold star, no party, nothing good happens. Immediately, you get faced with next existential question," Ries said.

In this series of articles on the little-guy economy, we will explore entrepreneurial innovation in an uncertain, shifting economy. We will write every week about how this world melds with Big Business. We plan to look at how entrepreneurial ventures relate to bigger forces in various industries—and what larger entities can learn from small ones. Why? Entrepreneurial innovation is poised to hit every sector of American business. "Not that long ago, business models lasted a long time," said Ries. "A company would invent a new category, dominate and die. That might not even have happened in a lifetime, let alone every five years."

Jill Priluck is a writer living in New York City.