All great businesses start out small, and before that, they get going with small actions. In fact, a series of small actions are the very best way to launch a new business. But thinking small only gets you so far. At some point you need to expand your thinking in order to take your business to the next level. There’s a danger in thinking too small and putting limits on your business’ potential – and some of us don’t even realise we’re doing it!
I was recently talking with a friend about her business. She seemed so happy with how it was going and how far she’d come since her beginnings. However, when I pried a little further, it was evident that she had made huge sacrifices for her business (nothing wrong with that), but yet it was still far from paying the bills. In fact, there were often large stretches of her days were spent without any clients. Now it’s true, she may have been playing the optimist and telling the lie entrepreneurs need to tell, but in this case, I think she was slightly surprised at the progress she’d made. She really wasn’t aiming for a better result. The fact that she had some clients was enough for her.
Do Businesses Need to be Big to be Successful?
… No, not at all! But a business should exist in order to satisfy your particular business goals – which of course will differ depending on what type of business you’re trying to build. If you’re aiming for a lifestyle business, you want to think about how much income you want to make (and for how much work). Or if you’re building more of an enterprise, you’ll want to have goals that are more growth oriented (perhaps year-on-year growth in revenues or clients).
Either way, there is pretty much always something to aim higher towards. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be proud or happy about what you’ve achieved, but there’s a balance between being satisfied and kidding yourself.
6 Signs you might be Thinking Too Small
Wondering if you might be thinking too small in your business? See how many of the following you answer “yes” to…
- You’re content with your business size even though it doesn’t contribute to your household income in any meaningful way
- You’ve surpassed all of your goals for your business (or will soon)
- You don’t have concrete goals for your business
- You can’t imagine how you could take a 3 week holiday without your business stopping in its tracks
- You don’t think it’s an option for you to be much bigger than you currently are
- You’re pretty sure you could earn more money in less hours by working for someone else
Why do Smart People Think Small?
I have a theory that deep down, it’s about worthiness and confidence. If we don’t expect too much of ourselves, we can’t fail and risk feeling any embarrassment or shame. Thinking small is a way of protecting ourselves.
You might hold a belief that your personality is not suited to entrepreneurship (believe me, any personality trait you possess can be an asset). Or you might think you don’t have the skills or ability to do much better with your business.
Whatever it is that’s holding you back, it’s time to identify those stories. Getting to know yourself and identifying your strengths is one step, but here are some more ways to expand your thinking.
5 Steps to Think Bigger in Business
- Uncover your “why” for being in business. This could be things like;
- Contribute a certain amount to your household income
- Help a certain number of clients with a certain problem
- Be an inspiration to other aspiring business owners, or to your children
- Provide meaningful employment for a team of staff
- Prove to yourself (or someone else!) that you can create a certain type of business
- 10x your Business. Imagine your business being 10 times bigger, or taking 10 times less effort, or having 10 times the impact that it currently has. What would it look like? What would the organisational structure be? How would you spend your time?
- Develop a strong vision for your business. Let yourself get excited about something and let everyone know about it!
- Now use your vision to set some concrete goals for your business. This could be things like;
- Make a certain profit figure
- Hit a certain growth or revenue target
- Have certain systems in place
- Reduce costs to a certain number
- Finally, put everything into a One-Page Actionable Business Plan (free template here) and get to work!
Make sure your thinking isn’t limiting the potential of your business.