Ever had anyone advice you to always start small and then build whatever project or business you have into a big deal. Well I have… and for a long while even though I see sense in what they are saying, I have always struggled with settling with that in my mind. Some may call it greed, others ambition, all I can say is that I like big stuff, I have big dreams and I serve a big God too( and he does things big). So an advice to do anything small is usually a bit difficult for me to accept or settle for.
So today, I wanna do a little challenging of this ancient advice. I’m not really disputing its credibility because for as long as I know, many big things today started small; but then I want to take a more critical and analytical look at the theory so as to come to terms with what it really means. I’m gonna take a differing perspective looking at the same concept and draw up possible new (innovative and not necessarily inventive) meanings from it.
This is my take:
The idea behind the theory I believe is that there is and should always be room for improvement. What this implies is that things can grow and would grow; all things being equal, if given time. Therefore, size shouldn’t stop you from starting a business project or acting on your idea because when you launch out and do what you are supposed to do, in time it would grow.
The other idea behind this wisdom is to prevent people from procrastination. You should begin with what you have and from where you are. The need to have it big usually prevents people from starting and if you don’t start, how can one achieve anything or succeed?
Its 3rd emphasis I also belief is contentment. Ambition without contentment is what births greed. Ambition I would call a virtue but without any form of contest, greed is obviously a vice. So by starting small, it shows that while in pursuit of the big things ahead, one can be contented enough with whatever he has no matter how small and thus not despise the days of little beginnings. Contentment always holds great promises for us but greed sooner or later fails. Just like impatience, it may work for you at some point and earn you things, but one day, sooner or later, it will be the source of trouble, delay, and problems for you if you keep it at it.
Small is a relative term. You’d agree with me that what bill gates will call ‘chicken change’ is no chicken anything to most of us. So what qualifies a thing as small isn’t the thing itself but rather the person qualifying it. So if you are starting a business, your starting capital could be a million dollars or just a thousand naira….both could be small or big depending on who’s looking at it. Likewise when you are searching for your first employment; small could be a 6 digit salary or a humble 4 digit figure.
In the same vein, ‘big’ which is what small is supposed to grow into is very relative. So the guy who started ‘small’ by earning N150,000 could say in 5 years grow into earning N5,000,000(which we will now call big) while the other one who started with just N9500 could grow big and start earning N120000 in 5 years. They both started small and grew big but the terms small and big are relative.
And so I believe that starting small shouldn’t be an excuse to justify and glorify mediocrity or non-excellence like most people nowadays do. Under the cover of starting small they refuse to maximize opportunities and potentials. So they believe (or at least act as if they do) it has to be bad first before it gets better forgetting that the true trend and flow of things is good-better-best and not bad-better-okay. Like it is usually said, good is usually the enemy of best and we have seen people abandon the best to settle for just good just because they want to start small.
My question to you today is this. Who says your first job as to be a crappy one? Or that your first car must be a jalopy? Can’t your small be so good and yet still get better?
My submission basically is this: yes, it is good to start small and to always begin with what you have where you are; but while starting small, make sure you adopt what we call in risk assessment the MAXIMIN approach. i.e. go for the best among the least. Start small, but make sure it is your best small and not just any small. Since the goal is to eliminate procrastination, ensure you do just that. While seeking out your best-small; avoid or reduce procrastination to the bearest minimum and while eliminating procrastination, keep in mind the consequences of undue haste and so balance up your planning, targeting, and timing between undue haste and procrastination.
In all you do, never lose sight of the need of excellence. A famous movie I watched some yearsback had this to say about excellence- pursue after excellence and then real success will chase you all around. Shun mediocrity with all your heart. If you wanna dream, dream big, start the biggest you can. Aim for the moon because even if you miss it, you’ll land among the stars. Never settle for anything less than what you could have had or been
And regardless of where you start, keep striving to grow bigger and bigger because there is always room for growth. When we stop growing, we start dying. It is the nature of life to grow if the right conditions are available…so keep creating the right atmosphere and conditions for growth. When that is in place, growth is always automatic regardless of size and level.
Truth is, if 2 different people start the same business, with the same set of skills and management strategy; all other things kept equal, the person with better capital for instance, 10yrs down the line probably has a better chance at more success than the other guy. I believe it’s better to start from 100 than to start from 1. If you can start from 100, it is laziness and mediocrity to be satisfied with 1, but if all you have is 1 and if that’s truly the best you can do, then 1 is the golden number for you to begin from.
With this, I hope I’ve been able to convince and not confusr you about the start small theory. I hope to develop this into a mini e-book soon. You guys would be the first to hear if I do. Any questions or comments could be directed to me via the reply feature underneath. Also please endeavour to share this link with your other friends and colleagues. Thanks and God bless!
Soaga Afolabi Olusegun
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