Why Small Business Needs to Dream BIG #DreamSmallBiz
“It takes as much effort to create a small company as it does to create a large one, so you might as well swing for the fences.” Neil Patel
A manager of mine said this to me many years ago and it stuck with me. If you are in a position to work with small business owners for any length of time and see inside their business, one thing is clear: they work insanely hard. The single most important ingredient to small business success is hard work, and most small business owners have that nailed.
Small Business Needs a Dream
The second key ingredient is one that sadly is not as common is an effective strategy for growth. But before a small business owner can even consider creating that strategy, they need a vision of what the future of business will look like. To have that vision means small businesses need to have a dream. Whether your small business dream is to dominate a local market, grow outside of it, or become a regional or national company, that dream needs to be the endpoint of your strategy.
This year, the U.S. Small Business Association’s National Small Business Week’s theme, “Dream Big, Start Small,” speaks directly to that dream. Without the dream of something big, building momentum and pushing through the disappointments and dead ends that are part of every small business journey is extremely difficult.
The Great Ones Were Not Unlike You
Last month, we wrote about what small business can learn from big business. To continue on this topic we took a look at how small business decision makers can learn from big business founders. Adam Grant’s bestselling book Originals uncovers the truth that is often overlooked or ignored about how some of the most admired entrepreneurs started out.
Larry Page, co-founder of Google, thought it was a real possibility that Google would fail and remained in academia until he knew his company was a safer bet. Bill Gates sold a software package in his sophomore year but stayed in college an additional year, took a leave of absence instead of quitting, and sold his parents on the idea of supporting him as a backup in case he failed. Both business legends put in lots of hard work, hit roadblocks, and overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges, while having a safety net in case it didn’t work out.
Grant goes on to say:
“A growing body of evidence suggests that entrepreneurs don’t like risk any more than the rest of us.”
The massive businesses that you aspire to be started with one individual or a group of people who shared the same fears or adversity to risk. They built their businesses with the understanding that they just might fail. That didn’t make them any less brilliant, or any less successful. In fact, there is little doubt in my mind that had these men failed, each of them would have tried again. Apart from the hard work, dedication, and strategy, they have strong visions for what the future of their company could be. There is no reason why small business owners can’t do the same.
Knowing Your Dream
In order to achieve your small business dream, it is crucial that you are very clear on your vision for the future, and that you are able to articulate it flawlessly. Talk it over repeatedly with your trusted business advisers and mentors. Write it down and think about it again and again until you have crystallized your vision for what your small business will be. Create a story that is compelling and don’t be afraid to talk about it. You need to be obsessed with your dream.
Bringing Your Small Business Dream to Life
Adam Grant wrote at length about one tactic that separated highly successful entrepreneurs from the pack: they talked about their vision constantly to anyone who would listen. Grant quotes research on the psychology of familiarity by Howard Tullman:
“Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. It breeds comfort.”
You will need everyone to embrace your vision, including your employees, your prospects, and your current customers. The way to get them to do that is to continue to share your vision with them. In order to eventually sell to your prospective dream clients, stay focused on the long sale and continue to reach out to them and share your vision, even if you get a few rejections. Eventually they will likely warm up to your vision as they become more comfortable with it. Just make sure you take a pause between the rejections to create value which will further your chances of hearing a “yes” the next time you ask.
Don’t stop talking about your small business dream, because many people won’t get it on the first iteration. They may even have contempt for it the first time they hear it. However, over time your patient focus on your small business dream will become familiar and comfortable to the very people you need to embrace it.
You can follow the SBA’s Dream Big, Start Small the hashtag #DreamSmallBiz.