Are You Dreaming Big Enough?

As you look at your plan for this year, how big is your dream? Does it excite you? Scare you? Or totally underwhelm you?

If you’re like most business owners and entrepreneurs chances are your plans are closer to the underwhelm side than the excite side.

Note: while different industries have different growth rates (i.e. software vs. grocery stores) and percentages become more difficult the larger you are (i.e. it’s easier to grow 50% when a company has $500K in sales and only needs to add $250K than when it has $10M and needs to add $5M), most of us know when a dream is small and when it’s big.

In other words, for most of you reading this, growing your business by 5-10% will probably be on the small side (even though those are the percentages I hear most commonly). Whereas, growing by 25% or 50% (or more) would be on the dreaming bigger side.

So to help you think a little bit bigger this year—and in more areas than just revenue, here are a few thoughts for today.

On Dreaming Bigger

If you want to grow a bigger, better, faster and more profitable business this year, you might want to consider the following ideas.

1. Don’t Start with Last Year’s Numbers 

The problem with starting with last year’s numbers is that you get mentally anchored to the past and what you’ve done before. However, in real strategic thinking, the goal is to think about the future and what you want to become/accomplish first, then to figure out how to get there from here.

When you start out with last year’s numbers, you almost automatically start thinking, “Well, if we can do what we did last year (and boy, did we have to work hard to get there), maybe we can work a little harder and get a little bit more in than we did last year. Maybe 3-5%?” That’s small thinking.

On the other hand, when you start with strategic questions (e.g. “What could be our growth accelerators?”) then you start by thinking about ways to grow your business by at least 5% per idea, then you’re on your way to a bigger dream. If you optimize your current systems and add five ideas with a 5% or greater impact, you’re now talking about growing by 40% or more. How’s that for bigger (8X 5%)?

2. Be Aware of the Downside to Goal Setting

If you’re thinking, “Did Bruce just say that there are is a downside to goal setting?” I’m sure you’re shocked … but there is. As much as I’m a fan of goal setting, there is one inherent problem with them … they can be limiting.

In other words, if you set a goal to grow by 25%, you’ll probably do everything you can to ensure you hit 25% this year (which would be good if you’ve been flat-lined or growing by single digits for the past few years). However, if you didn’t set a goal for 25% but set one for 50%, could you have grown faster than 25%?

So, as you set your goals and dreams for this year, make sure you challenge yourself to use the numbers you pick as the low-end of what you want to achieve not the high-end. If 25% is the goal, develop plans to grow beyond 25% because you just might be surprised. Keep dreaming bigger!

3. Keep Playing off the A and R in SMART Goals

When most people use the acronym SMART for goal setting, they use the words, “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.”, However, when I use the SMART acronym, I use R for “Reaching” (i.e. achievable and realistic are way too close to one another in definition to be substantively different).

By changing “Realistic” (which anchors most people to what’s easily attainable) to “Reaching,” you’ll automatically force yourself to dream bigger. You’ll start asking questions like …

  • What would push us this year?
  • What would be difficult?
  • What would get us out of our comfort zone?
  • What would scare us?
  • What would be a WOW?

The reason I say, keep playing off the A and R is because the reaching needs to be somewhat achievable. For example, I’ll often see organizations or businesses set totally outrageous goals because they heard someone say, “Dream big!” So, they’ll say, “We’re going to grow by 100% this year” (even though they’ve been flatlined for the past three years). It’s not that they can’t grow by 100%, it just doesn’t feel very achievable. There are reasons why organizations don’t grow fast. Unless those issues are dealt with, dream big goals will go unfulfilled.

So, as you dream big, push yourself and your company, but make sure there’s some semblance of achievability in the dream.

On Areas to Dream Bigger In

One of the other mistakes I see a lot of businesses make when they think of growing bigger, is that they almost always focus ONLY on top line revenue growth. However, there are a number of other areas you might want to do some dreaming about.

1. New Products and/or Services

To drive significant growth, most businesses need to add and/or innovate new products and/or services to sell to their customers or potential customers (or potential new customers because of a new product and/or service).

So, how big is your dream for new products and/or services this year? How big is your launch dream? How big is your sales target for them?

2. New Employees

One of the greatest services we offer as business owners and entrepreneurs is employing other people (providing for them, their families if that have one, their dreams, their community, etc.). It’s also one of the key ways we create leverage in our companies.

So, as you look at this year, are you dreaming big enough in terms of your employee count?

3. New Geographic Markets

Expanding geographically is one of the best ways for many of us to grow our businesses. To go from a local market to a state market to a regional market to a national market to a global market can make a huge difference in the growth of a company.

So, as you look at this year, is this the year you need to extend your geographic reach?

4. New Customer Segments

Taking your current products and/or services to a new market or creating new products and/or services for a new market are two great ways to drive growth for your business.

So, as you look at this year, do you need to branch out into a new customer segment? What segment? And is that customer segment large enough to make a significant difference to your key financial metrics?

5. New Facilities

It’s easy to grow out of a facility and yet stay there for years simply because it’s easy (i.e. hard to move). However, to keep driving growth, it might be necessary to acquire either larger or better facilities.

So, is this the year you need to acquire newer, bigger and/or better facilities?

6. Community Impact/Philanthropy

Making more money is nice, but what good is making a lot of money without making a greater impact? Wouldn’t it be great if one of your greatest dreams for this year was to ensure that you and your company had an even bigger impact on your community? Absolutely!

So, what would be a big dream for you and your company in regards to your impact in your community?

Well, there you go. A few thoughts about dreaming bigger and a few thoughts on six different areas, other than top line revenue, for you to think about in regard to dreaming bigger.

So, going back to my original question, how big is your dream now?

To your accelerated success!

P.S. If you have some other ideas to share about dreaming bigger, make sure you add them in the comment section below (or click here >> if you’re reading this by RSS or email).