Did you want to be a small business owner your entire career? There’s nothing wrong with that if you do. Small business is the backbone of the nation. But let’s not pretend that we could live without big businesses doing the kinds of things only giant corporations can do.
You already know what it takes to run a successful small business. Just keep doing what you’re doing. But if you have aspirations to become something more, then you can’t keep thinking small. Growing from a small business to a big business doesn’t happen by accident. You have to go through an intentional set of thought processes and actions if you are ever going to make the transition.
Thinking big is not just about engaging in fantasy, daydreaming, and wish fulfillment. Thinking big is accompanied by actions that can be taken by any sized business. It is about actively pursuing the intermediate steps that get you from here to there. So if you want a seat at the big kids’ table, here are a few of the things you will need to do:
Small businesses attend conferences. Big businesses host conferences. You want to be the business around which small businesses gather. At some point, you have to stop trying to be in the orbit of your betters, and become the orbit others want to be in.
It doesn’t matter that you don’t have an in-house team to produce your own conference app. You can hire out services that can provide you with a live engagement platform as full-featured as your largest competitors. You don’t have to give up important features and metrics. All the big tools are at your disposal.
Besides a custom event app, you have access to venues at a variety of sizes and prices that fit your needs. The venue generally provides the technology and support needed to host a conference. You don’t have to wait until you are big before you host a conference. It is one of those things that launches you to the next level whether you are ready or not.
You are not going to get big on a 10 year old Dell and a dot matrix printer. You are going to have to get serious about using technology to grow your business. You have to abandon the last vestiges of anti-tech sentiment you may be holding on to.
Tech is not just the computer on your desk, it is the one you carry in your pocket. It is your website, your social media strategy, your PPC campaign, your Slack channel, your VoIP lines, and everything else requiring a screen or electricity.
If you don’t have a presence online, or these days, in an App Store, you don’t exist. So if you want to become a big business, you have to rethink your investment in the yellow pages and radio, and embrace the technologies of the 21st century.
Small businesses look for sponsors, big businesses are sponsors. This is less about the size of your business, and more about the mentality. There are many huge startups that have been around for a number of years with large buildings and hundreds of employees. But they still aren’t making any money. They live off of venture capitalists and angel investors, always waiting for the next round of funding.
Big business thinking is about what you can give back. You find people and causes to sponsor from local sports leagues to yearbooks, to charities, to other startups in the community. You know you are all grown up when you start giving back to society rather than just looking for the next pile of free money.
It takes time, talent, and money to grow your business from large to small, not to mention a healthy amount of luck. But it mostly takes a change in mentality. Go from merely seeking knowledge, to imparting knowledge, Go from tech-phobic, to tech-savvy. Go from taker to giver. These are the marks of a leader. Once you make these changes in orientation, the growth of all you pursue is sure to follow.