When building a business, it’s common to get the advice that you should think bigger. Think bigger about your vision. Think bigger about your offer. Think bigger about your pricing. Think bigger about your impact. Think bigger about your legacy.
And so on.
Yet, today, I want to make the case for places where it’s wise to think small about your business. Thinking small doesn’t seem nearly as expansive or exciting as thinking big, but thinking small can have a big impact.
So where should you think small in your business?
Your niche/area of focus. Most of us (myself included) have a difficult time narrowing ourselves down to an area of specialty or focus. Yet the smaller and more specific we define our niche/area of focus, the more of a specialist we are. And specialists tend to be paid more than generalists. So thinking small about your niche can mean big revenue.
Your pathways to client acquisition. It can be tempting to think you need to be active on every new social media platform that comes out. It can be tempting to think that you need to create videos for Youtube, and guest blog, and develop an email marketing campaign, and write a book, and host a telesummit….and so on. While each of these may be worthwhile, and valuable, the truth is that there will come a point where you can’t keep up with all the platforms you think you should be using. While most high earning businesses DO use multiple channels for attracting new clients, they tend to start one by one and master their chosen platform before moving to the next. Thinking small can help because you can focus on just one platform, get strong results there, and use that success to propel you further on your next platform.
How much you should work when you’re sick, stressed, or are struggling. This is a difficult one for me. I find it really hard to take it easy even when I’m sick or stressed. Recently, my mother came down with a fairly severe illness (only temporary, and she’s much better now)- but this necessitated me adjusting my schedule and my life in order to be available if she needed me. Her medical issues were happening at a very busy time in my business; I’d just brought on three new big clients and things were very hectic. Yet, I found myself pushing myself even harder, when I actually needed to rest. One of the big benefits of owning your own business is the capacity to set your own schedule. Yet how many of us actually take advantage of this, even when we really, really need the break? Thinking small about what you need to accomplish can give you the space and rest you need.
How much debt you might acquire. Sometimes, you need to spend money to make money. Yet, many times, we spend money before we’ve made any money. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on your website, nor do you need the most expensive shopping cart, nor do you need a flashy branding campaign to kick off your business. You just need something to sell, some people to sell it to, and a way to collect payments. Yet many entrepreneurs put themselves into debt at very high levels when they could retain more of their resources if they thought a bit smaller.
How many social followers you really need. I shared about this idea in my post on Does Your Business Have True Fans, but again, it takes fewer fans- true fans- than you think to build the business you want. Don’t expend a lot of energy and other resources building larger social media followings than you really can benefit from.
How quickly you should expect to see results. I’m all for ambition and creating the outcomes you want. However, in most cases, building a solid and stable business takes longer than we want; and often longer than we expect. It’s natural to want results as soon as possible, but the longer I own my business, I see that there is a right timing to everything, and results become possible a few years in that were not possible when I first started. For instance, I have a strong base of referrals into my business now. This took some years to cultivate, built one happy client at a time. There is no way I could have rushed this process, and it takes whatever time it takes to have people refer to you. Having an understanding of what reasonable results are- and, in many cases, cultivating more patience and a longer view perspective can both be helpful.
There are probably a few more areas where thinking smaller is better than thinking bigger. Are there areas in your business or life where you’ve benefited from thinking smaller rather than bigger?