The Power In Thinking Small When Starting Your Business

Many of us, as entrepreneurs, start off with big intentions to do big things. Although I love dreaming big and hear a lot about people thinking big, I find that there is power in thinking small when we are getting started as entrepreneurs or solo-preneurs.

Thinking small when you’re just getting started gives you permission to start where you are right now. Whenever you’re establishing any kind of goal, it’s important to make sure you start from where you presently are. Imagine planning a trip from Florida to Texas and putting your starting point in your GPS as Alabama. It just wouldn’t work.

In this article and video, I’m going to share with you nine ways you can start thinking small and end up with better, much faster results than you would by thinking big.

Make Your Goals Small

When we give ourselves small goals that we can reach regularly, we build confidence as entrepreneurs. Our confidence will have a big effect on the overall momentum we establish in our business.

Establish small bench marks that give you an indication that you are progressing toward your goals.

Share Small But Deliver In A Big Way

There might be someone or multiple people in your life who are interested in your life, such as a family member or significant other. When we are just getting started, it can be easy and very natural to share our goals with people we care about. But, later, we may realize that the path to the goal we shared was much longer and challenging than expected.

There is nothing wrong with this unless the people who you shared your goals with also share an opinion with you that shows lack of faith in your success. This can happen sometimes if we have tried multiple times to start businesses in the past and didn’t follow through.

If that is the case, just communicate that you expect moderate results and do your best to surprise them with exceptional results. It’s also okay not to share anything at all with anyone until you make your first dollar. I find that not sharing is the best way for some people to get started if they are surrounded by negative people.

Have a small narrow focus with your business activities instead of a big one: Many people add activities that aren’t necessarily responsible for generating revenue. The truth is, you only need to master the phase of your business that you’re in right now. Focusing on anything else can waste time. If you’re just getting started with your business, then just focus on your first steps towards generating revenue and nothing else.

Think Small With Your Marketing

Mastering one marketing process or one way to bring in business is more important than starting 100 customer-getting activities that never really bring you any benefits. Have you ever seen neglected Twitter accounts or Facebook business pages? They do more harm than good.

When we choose to master one marketing process, we can maximize our return from the resources we invest in by making that marketing process work. Starting small with your marketing process is a more effective approach for most entrepreneurs, because when we start small with a marketing process, we can take the time to master the parts that incrementally create a more profitable marketing channel.

Focus On Your First Small Sale

Focusing on just one plan to make one sale is one of the most important things you can do when you are just getting started. The more you can narrow your focus on your first sale, the easier it will be to stay on task and not get distracted with anything but the actions that are going to get you to that first sale.

Make Your Niche Smaller

Many people think they should sell their products to anyone and everyone who could buy them. When you get smaller and more specific with who should buy from you, something amazing happens with your marketing. Your marketing material will be 100 times more effective because you can speak the exact needs and wants and concerns of those people.

Once you exhaust that niche there is no shame in starting a second business that services another niche, but we need to play in an industry that is possible for us to win.

Get Small Commitments From Your Prospects & Have Fewer Offerings

When you bring your prospects down your marketing funnel, the fewer decisions you give them, the more likely they will be to make one. Also, the smaller you can make the commitments, the easier it is for them to take a step when you ask them to contact you.

Think Small Budgets And Save Big Dollars

Thinking small budgets forces us to get more creative and become smarter at our craft. It forces us to keep from wasting resources. Focusing on small budgets will help prevent misuse of finances and insure longevity through your first stages of business development.

It’s easy for many of us to try to throw money at problems we don’t know how to fix. When we force ourselves to figure it out, we become more successful because we understand the ins and outs of the foundation of our business.

Start Small By Starting Part Time

I personally have met a lot of people that never start the business of their dreams because they think they don’t have the time or resources. It’s like somehow having a part time business isn’t cool.

These people many times will end up leaving their job before they should and put unneeded stress on themselves and their families. If you’re just getting started, give yourself permission to be part time. Just make sure that you block aside a specific amount of time that isn’t under 10 hours a week to work on your business.


About Nathaneal

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  • Hi Nathaneal, thanks for the wonderful information. I myself is in the same situation as what you had described here. I tend to think big and overload myself with tasks and ideas. In the end, I lose focus. Thinking small is indeed good to help staying focus and hitting small achievements can act as motivations towards the bigger achievements.

    To success!

    • Excellent Dan, I look forward to learning more about your successes.

  • Nathaneal, thanks for the post. I particularly liked the advice about talking to your family and friends about your business. I definitely agree that negative people can hinder your progress, especially in the beginning of a business. On the other hand, I think it is also necessary to have someone outside your own skull review what you are trying to do. This helps you remove your blinders. I have yet to try it, but I am told that a mastermind group works really well because you have people who are trying to do the same or similar thing as you and so are not negative about your business and they can give you the perspective you need to succeed. Thanks again!

    • Your right Tomas, there is a ton of power in mastermind groups. My pleasure have a great week!

  • Oh, man, is this ever the story of my business. Took me five years to realize that scaling back my grand ideas turned into tighter, better products that customers actually LOVED!

    I am not a fast learner, apparently 🙂

    Now I build in a “cutting-back” stage when I brainstorm that helps me reign in my more out of control projects.

    • Awesome Daniel, Thanks for sharing the concept about “cutting back” when brainstorming. Great idea

  • Really nice breakdown Nathaneal. Confidence is a massive aspect to growing your business online aswell as setting out short / mid / long term goals

    The biggest thing i’ve found to help is holding yourself accountable to one of your peers or someone reliable in your immedaite network. Alongside that, and this may sound harsh, you should stop hanging around with people on the same level as you, you should always be mixing with peers who are at least one notch above you.

    • Well said Zed, very good points. Accountability is king, and nothing will speed up your self expectation faster than hanging out with people that have already accomplished what you want to achieve. Have a great week

  • Wow, Nathaneal. This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I am guilty of trying to tackle too lofty of goals and expectations only to succeed in a complete burn-out.

    I like the idea of reducing everything down to a smaller size to make tasks more manageable and complete. It is very hard to retain your focus and not want to jump from here to way over there without taking the small steps in between.

    I think I need to go back to the drawing board and rethink my goals and expectations. Thanks for a great article with so much insight and experience!

    • For sure Teresa, it took me years to finally & painfully figure that out. Good for you- I look forward to hearing more about how taking smaller steps actually speeds up your results.

  • Great advice Nathaneal and so true. There is no shame in thinking small and going about it that way. All of my major accomplishments were created this way which totally takes away the burden of unneeded stress in our lives.

  • I think this is an important message to get out there, especially to newbies. I like the idea of having a series of attainable goals set up for yourself rather than creating these huge tasks that can be daunting and end up being more of a set back than anything else.

  • You’re absolutely right about thinking small especially when starting out. In fact, big dreams at this tender stage can cause uncontrollable and wild expectations. What if such expectations aren’t met? That’s why people give up and sell their online business. Think small and gradually increase your thought-pattern. It works. Thank you for sharing.

  • Nathaneal

    there is power in thinking small, because it helps us focus on one goal at a time, mastering one thing at a time, and achieving one by one.

    from our small thinking once we accomplish and maste something then we can leverage it by duplicating it as a result getting even bigger results

  • This is the advice my mum always gave me whenever I was thinking of starting one venture or another; she would always say ‘dream big but start small’ and I’ve found it to be faultless advice. Thanks for the timely reminder Nathaneal, and for the practical tips you included. If many more online (and offline) entrepreneurs could follow your advice,there wouldn’t be so many failed businesses.

    • Thanks for the compliment Sharon, your mum sounds like a pretty smart lady.

  • Nathaneal, that’s a wonderful post. I think a lot of people don’t realize that you can end up with a big success simply by stringing together a lot of small successes. The skills you gain from a small success can be used in pursuing bigger goals. It’s all about breaking things down into smaller manageable chunks. Popular wisdom hold that bigger is better, but that isn’t always the case.

  • […] came across a really helpful blog post about the power of thinking small on today that really helped me. I wanted to pull out the best bests and […]

  • Just the article I needed today! I have been doing a variety of things for the last 3 months in my new venture and last week had a ‘reflection’ day where I looked at what did, and didn’t work to bring in clients.

    I am now giving us permission to really cut back and focus on 5 main activities to get clients and they have 3 options only.

    Feels sooooo much easier, and our targets are also really modest – enough to pay the bills with some left-over to re-invest – and we’ll all have much more fun!

    Thanks so much – a great, clear, well-written blog!

    • Congratulations Claire! — Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Thank you for this very timely reminder, in particular the part about making your niche smaller. I very recently launched a new small business venture and have been wondering if it was a mistake to target such narrow niche. But this has reminded me why I’ve gone after this market in the first place. Having such a particular target market keeps me very focused when I’m coming up with resources for my wb site, and does ensure that I am always thinking about what’s going to be the most useful for my potential clients. My only concern is whether it’s possible to run out of ideas for useful resources for this market before I manage to make it profitable. You’ve also made me think about what I’m doing with my (brand-new) Facebook and Twitter pages… I guess I just figured that everyone has those, so I should, too. I’m going to have figure out how to use those properly so they don’t damage what I’m trying to build up with my web site. Lots to think about!

    • Hi Nathalie, just keep asking yourself (if my target market could have everything they wanted..what would it be?) With that in the forefront of your mind…I am sure you will have lots of opportunities to make enough profit.

  • Hey Nathaneal I really connected with your thoughts about not talking to anyone about your IM aspirations until you make your first dollar. There are so many people who cannot wrap their minds around making a living on the internet. Their negativity is a sure way to hurt your motivation and loose confidence in your ability to succeed.

    I also agree on thinking small but I believe that thinking large should come first. I have found my strongest motivation and best results from coming up with a large inspiring goal. I need something that makes me want to get out of bed and start achieving. The important thing in this though is to give yourself enough time. I like to set 1 year goals.

    Then I can begin to work backwards my from my goal and break it down into smaller and smaller sections. Such as four 3 month periods with goals for those time periods. Then I take those 4 weeks in each of those months and write my goals in that time period. Then I break those weeks down into daily activities. I have found that it helps me reverse engineer my success.

    The large goal helps me get out of bed and want to achieve while the smaller daily goals help me to take daily action and always strive forward. Even if my main 1 year goal seems huge and insurmountable the daily goals are very easy to achieve and will lead me on to success.

    • Right on Chris – that is a good map to follow. I do the exact same thing – keep rocken it buddy.

  • Hi Nathaneal,

    Had to tweet this post as it is one of the best I’ve read in a long time!

    Focused marketing is a great point – like many others, I have a lot on my plate already, so tackling several avenues at once just does not work out.

    It is an overwhelming feeling to try and learn all of these different marketing techniques – plus, just when you think you “get” it, something changes and you have to incorporate that as well!

    You make some very note worthy points in thinking smaller and more focused with your business. Instead of taking on the world in one swoop, you’re carving away at it, bit by bit.

    Very well said!

    • Thanks Christine..for the compliment and for sharing your experience with us. Hope your having an amazing week!

  • Jan

    Thanks Nathaneal,
    Sound advice, thank you for sharing. It does make sense to focus on what it achieveable and ultimatley sustainable. I find one of the biggest hurdles in marketing ones business is to set up a strategy that work with ones strengths, mitigtes weaknesses and still works. What is the most practical, impactful habit you use to grow your business?

    • Thanks Jan, great points and great question by the way.
      My business is the business of growing other businesses. I do that with an upfront fee and a % of the results. So for me… Over the years I have built a pipeline of referrals. I first did that by just helping people in an industry (for free by the way) that I wanted to really get involved with…until I mastered (my work) enough to get an exceptional result that was worth talking about – then I simply asked the people I helped – who they think they should introduce me to… Now – over the years of paying it forward, I turn more people down than I take on as clients… This has allowed me to only take on projects that are exciting to me. Last year, I was doing webinars that sold a consultation, then I used the consultation to find new long term clients. I also had a survey that people would fill out when they would opt-in to my list – that survey would ask them questions…. that I could then start an email conversation to help them solve. Many times I could personally solve their solution with my services. But I have more opportunities pointed my way than I want..these days… so the webinars, and the email help.. are not in my process right now. I see your in the personal services business also..for the management niche. That’s awesome – there are quite a few decision makers searching out information online related to your niche…so creating great content (that can be found) with (the right) call to action for a consultation… is one way you could totally get as many clients as you could ever want. Have a great day!

  • I absolutely agree with you when you say u don’t necessarily need to talk about your business with other peeps, because often people want to see immediate results, and they cannot understand our long-term vision. But as entrepreneurs, we surely can. if u can hold to your vision and take inspired action step by step, that will be enough.

  • This is just how I like conducting things. I like thinking small and then get pleasantly surprised in case things get to grow big.

    • thinking small only in the beginning Donna and thinking big there after

  • I have just started affiliate marketing and have a single product site promoting a weigh loss supplement. I figured it would be a great way to learn the basics as I have never even created a website before much less marketed a product. I have set my expectations very low. Any sales will be a victory and I can move on to bigger and better things. Even if my first site is a total flop I can take what I have learned and move on.

  • Interesting thoughts, Nathaneal…I have just started my own blog after 3 years setting up affiliate websites, working hard on them and getting only a few hundred dollars in returns. So, I have got myself a mentor here in the UK and on his advice started my own blog to share my own progress with others. I hope that by sharing my pain and success, all the visitors to my blog will benefit. Your advice about focussing on 1 method of traffic generation and mastering it is particularly valuable as most of us, I am sure, do try to spread ourselves too thinly. Your blog will now be on my “regular read list”.

  • Thanks brother for this insight. I was once a victim of thinking big, i have read a lot about the power of thinking big but i think when it comes to absence and blogging success, the adverse needs to be considered. I gave up on my first attempt to do absence simply because of thinking big and when i failed to meet up with my plan, i simply had to give up, but now i have a new site and i am not going back until success is spotted. Thanks once again.

  • Ivan Navarro

    I encourage everyone to go and check-out “Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. It is a great book that talks about thinking small and much more. Check it out for those who want to learn more and might help you as entrepreneurs.

    Anyways, great video and article about thinking small! You made great points and you were clear on what you mean. Thanks for the tips and will definitely help me start my own business.

    • Nate

      Great recommendation Ivan

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