Think Small Before You Think Big

Photo by Yoel Kamara on Unsplash

There are those that shudder at the thought of working for someone else. These people abhor the idea of being an employee and have zero desire to permit someone to be their boss.

They crave independence and have no desire to compete in the rat race. They don’t want to follow; they want to lead and pursue their own vision. They have ideas floating around in their mind and want to manifest those ideas in reality.

These people are entrepreneurs. They are the risk takers and innovators that push economies forward, enrich our lives, and in turn, inspire others to do the same.

You may be one of these people.

But what if your vision is so grand, risky, and far-fetched, that getting from here to there is seems like an absurd proposition. What if you lack the network, capital, knowledge, and expertise? What if you don’t possess all the ingredients needed to attain your vision.

The answer is you must think small before you think big.

If your objective is to build a successful pharmaceutical firm or launch rockets into space, but all you have listed on your resume is work experience as an labourer for a landscaping company, your chances are probably going to be slime to none. Who will want to work with you and invest in your epic plan?

Your best bet, especially if you’re young and inexperienced, is to start a small business, and do everything in your power to make it a success.

While you contemplate your grand vision of a multi-billion dollar company, take some time to think about starting a much smaller business that encompasses the following characteristics:

  1. Requires little start up capital
  2. A simple and clear product or service that helps people meet a single need
  3. Is a great match for your current set of skills and knowledge
  4. Can prove to be successful by following a few simple rules (no over analyzing) consistently for a long enough period of time

Take the path of least resistance before tackling the the monumental vision that resides deep in your mind. You can’t run if you can’t crawl.

Victor Pride of Bold and Determined has written a great article entitled “The Magic of Thinking Small,” explaining how he became a successful blogger by adhering to a simple business plan and avoiding the trivial and inconsequential.

You must start slow and work your way up. By starting and maintaining a profitably-run small business, you learn the ins and outs better than any MBA graduate. You will learn about accounting, budgeting, financing, tax laws, regulatory compliance, contracts, negotiation, marketing, communication, hiring and retaining employees, time management, etc. Those skills will serve you well in the future when you embark on more challenging and formidable startups.

In addition to the all the soft and technical skills you will be acquiring and honing, you will begin accumulating capital, and a vast network of people that can prove useful for your future endeavors. You will also be cementing your credibility and reputation, which, incidentally, you should take seriously at all times.

As a rule of thumb, people will generally not want to work with you unless you can prove to them that you possess the experience and expertise to run a successful business.

Start off small, gain experience, establish a track record, build up capital, and cultivate a positive reputation. And be patient.

A great example of starting small is the business magnate Elon Musk.

Did Musk start his foray in the business world by building electric cars and rockets? No. He first started Zip2, a company that provided and licensed online city guide software to newspapers (he, undoubtedly, made use of his programming skills). After selling the company, he used some of the proceeds to start, an online financial services company. eventually merged with Confinity (and became known as Paypal). Subsequently, Paypal was acquired by eBay, which netted Musk $165 million. Later that year, he used $100 million of that fortune to found SpaceX.

Musk initially pursued an entrepreneurial endeavor in a field where he could effectively leverage his existing skills and knowledge (and one where the startup capital was microscopic compared to what he would pursue later). He followed the path of least resistance and worked his way up. He didn’t automatically jump into building rockets out of university, even though space exploration and clean energy were major components of his grand vision. Along the way he amassed the skills, experience, capital, and network of people that would contribute to his more bolder ventures.

Another example is Amazon. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had a vision of dominating the online retail market. But he started out by focusing on selling books only. As he became successful, he made calculated moves into other product lines and eventually emerged to become the retail titan we know today.

Unless you are born into a wealthy family with access to all the resources, capital, and expertise you could ever need, you’re probably going to have to think small and and work your way up.

Always keep in mind that the most successful companies all started from humble beginnings. Be patient, don’t be overwhelmed by greed, and learn to make one dollar at a time.

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