If what we see is what we get, what are you seeing? Is the picture/vision of you and your company big? Or small? Do you see your company as a major player? Or just one of many?
Do you see your business on a global scale? A national scale? A regional scale? Or a local one?
Do you see yourself employing just a few people? Tens of people? Hundreds of people? Or thousands of people?
Remember, if what we see is what we get, what are you seeing? If you’re like most small business owners, chances are your vision is somewhat limited—which of course raises the question, “Why?”
I. Why We Think Small
While there are lots of reasons why business owners (and other small business leaders) tend to think small, here are the main ones I see over and over again.
1. Lack of confidence
You can hear this in all kinds of phrases, “I’ve never done that before.” Or, “I can’t see myself (or my company) doing that?” Or, “I’m not good at that.
While most of us like to believe that the major hindrances to our businesses lie outside of us, the reality is that most of them lie within us—and lack of confidence is one of the chief hindrances to any business’ growth.
2. A Bent Toward Management
This happens because a lot of business owners are technicians who’ve created a business that does the thing they used to do (i.e. the software programmer who now has a software company where others write code). In general, most technicians have a bias toward management where they like to create a system and then keep running that system over and over again. In fact, the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it!” is their battle cry.
The downside of this mindset is that it’s not focused on the future and what could be, rather it’s focused on the present and fixing what isn’t working now.
3. No Experience With Big
This is a huge one. If someone has never been a part of something big, then it’s hard to conceive of what something big is. For example, I have a friend whose a pastor and his father was a pastor. His father never pastored a church larger than a 100 people. When my friend’s church was at 400, his church plateaued for years. When I asked him what he was going to do to get his church growing he said, “Bruce, my church is 4 times larger than any church my father ever pastored. I’m content.”
4. Overwhelmed with Today
The final reason I’ll list today has to do with the reality of every small business leader’s life—way too much to do and not enough time to do it. The natural consequence of that is that if you get focused on just getting done what needs to be done today, then you won’t be thinking about what could be (and, even worse, you won’t want to add any more to your already overwhelmed plate).
So, as you think about your own life and why you don’t think big enough, what are your reasons? What keeps you from thinking of something huge for you and your business?
II. How to Think Bigger
Just as we looked at four reasons why we think small, I’ll give you four ideas on how to think bigger.
1. Block in Dream Time
If you don’t schedule it, chances are it won’t happen. One of the reasons why the church I used to pastor years ago grew at an annual rate of 30.5% per year for over a decade was because I set aside at least two hours per week just to dream and think about the future.
Think about that. If you took at least two hours every week—not to work on current projects or to put out fires but to focus on the future for your business, don’t you think that would help you think bigger? Absolutely!
But, the two keys to that are one, that you need to schedule it and keep that appointment with yourself and two, you need to use those two hours for dreaming, not putting out fires.
2. Experience Bigger
Build into your budget, time to visit other businesses that are doing something similar to you but are operating on a larger scale. Study them. Use them. Walk around them. Get to know the key players. Ask them questions. Get inside their minds.
Go to conferences. Read biographies of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. Take people who are more successful than you are out to lunch. Ask them tons of questions. Learn how they think. And experience what it’s like to lead a business at their level.
Remember, for most of us, it’s hard to create something that we haven’t experienced. So, go experience big and let your mind dream of a better day!
3. Practice Double It Thinking
If you haven’t checked out my program entitled, Double it, I’d highly encourage you to do so. While the whole course is about creating a double it growth plan, the idea of double it is easy to comprehend.
Most of us think too small. If you ask the typical small business owner how much he or she would you like to grow their business this year, you’ll usually hear a pretty small number. “If we could grow by 5% or 10% this year, that would be great.” Occasionally, you’ll even hear someone say, “If we could grow by 15% or 20% this year, that would be great.” But still, twenty percent isn’t thinking big.
However, the idea behind double it thinking is asking yourself the question, “What if we could double our business over the next (6, 12 or 24) months—what would that look like?” Now, you’re thinking bigger.
4. Ask Bigger Questions
The way you and I think is by asking ourselves questions, which means that the quality of the questions we ask ourselves determines the quality of the answers we receive. In other words, if I’m asking myself, “How can I get enough revenue in this month to make payroll?” that will lead to one answer. But if I’m asking a bigger question, that will lead to another.
So, what are some bigger questions? Glad you asked. Here are a few to get you started.
a. “What if we were the dominant player in our industry, what would that look like?”
b. “What if we were to go national (or global), what would that look like?”
c. “If we were 10X our size, what would need to change in how we operate?”
d. “What would need to be true of us for a national news program (or the Harvard Business Review) to want to do a story on us?”
e. “What would need to be true of us for a top-tier venture capital firm to want to invest big in our company?”
Remember, the quality of the questions we ask determines the quality of the answers we receive. So, get in the habit of asking bigger questions.
Well, there you go. If you want to think bigger, first deal with what keeps you thinking small and then use one of the above practices to get you thinking bigger! Because what we see is what we get. So, if you want to grow a big business, you’ve got to see it first!
To your accelerated success!
P.S. If you have some other ideas of what you do to think bigger, make sure you add them to the comments section below (or click here >> if you’re reading this by email or RSS feed).
Photo from SalFalko on Flickr