Hypotheses and analyses dealing with the expansion of small businesses are usually carried out over relatively short periods of time. The patterns drawn from these examinations, e.g., on the question of specific differences in the growth of size, are usually influenced by configurations of the overall economy and limit the realization of regular processes to the phases they are based upon. A second disadvantage lies in most cases in the fact that data sources are used for the empirical analyses that do not cover the economic system as a whole nor for all sizes of establishments. This study attempts to present the development of the sizes of establishments in Germany over a period of more than one hundred years (1882 to 1987) and thus avoids the narrow perspective of previous examinations. It becomes evident that this development does not take a continuous course; instead, it follows a wave pattern. Since this discontinuous development pattern is common to almost all sectors, it appears to be a general phenomenon. This study reveals that the small establishments with more than five employees, contrary to most theoretical assumptions, are of utmost importance even when considered over a long period of time. The growth of small establishments in recent years, observable in all sectors, may not be a unique phenomenon; however, in view of an overall growth of employment and the simultaneous shrinking of large establishments, it occurs under a new constellation.