Meet Sally And Jeff And Their Grandiose Idea To Start A Business On A Shoestring
I like stories, either hearing them or sharing my own. The following is of the creative, theoretical type on how a vision can turn into a business in flash.
Let me introduce you to a fictional company called Small Big Dreams, Inc. Small Big Dreams, Inc., like many companies, started out as a small business, a mom and pop you might call it. Its core business is to help others, for a fee, with their seemingly small ideas or dreams, turn into thriving and successful ventures. Small Big Dreams offers consulting work to those who have the vision, but lack the strategies to turn it into a viable venture.
When Small Big Dreams, Inc. was started, many family and friends of the proprietors laughed at the idea. They figured, who on earth would financially invest in hiring a consultant of sorts, to help them crystallize their dreams? Many thought it would certainly make it as a nonprofit organization, but that was it. However, the owners Sally and Jeff knew better. They had a vision and a healthy dose of passion to go along with it.
What made Small Big Dreams a success was a very simple formula. It is known to many, but few have the patience, tenacity or the grit to see their vision come to fruition. Here is the formula used by the husband and wife duo and owners of Small Big Dreams, Inc.:
1. The vision – It started with a vision. On a Saturday morning over coffee at their favorite cafe, Sally and Jeff came up with the idea to start their business. Immediately they wrote it down. Not intending for their quiet morning to turn into a business meeting, Sally borrowed a pen from a nearby patron and began to write on the closest thing she could find, a napkin. Unlike Jeff, Sally was a big dreamer. It was easy to scribble away the beginning of what would become their ticket to early retirement. Even though the vision was a bit hazy, it was clear enough to Sally and Jeff to pursue. The key take away from this first step is while the vision for your business idea my not be crystal clear, it is important to document it as quickly as you can. Jeff, the more practical type, conducted the next step.
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2. Action Planning – Most would argue, and for good reason due to the many formulas for creating goals calling for specificity, that this step, action planning, should come well after the creation of a vision. But Sally and Jeff were both of the “unconventional type” so tradition was not in their DNA. Jeff grabbed another napkin and expanded on his wife’s simply written yet short vision. Even in this exercise of action planning, their unconventional approach seeped through. Jeff wrote long-term action steps, not goals, but actions. One of them was that in five years they would use the profits from Small Big Dreams, Inc., and create a nonprofit organization. It was something they had dreamt about for years. Wait? What about the how? Is this more of a goal rather than a vision? For Jeff and Sally, it was a long-term plan that was actionable. You see, they decided that while short and long-term goals must be specific and action plans are essential, they wanted to look beyond today or even the next year, and focus many years ahead. They wanted to start with the end result in mind.
3. Going against the grain – Sally had a knack for creativity. When she creates a vision, they are grandiose. Unapologetically, she thinks big. Borders or barriers are nonexistent as far as she is concerned. The world was her oyster therefore the act of thinking small was as foreign as meeting a Martian from the moon. So the vision she had created, although initially not clearly defined, did not lack the flare and loftiness typical of Sally. Small Big Dreams was to become an empire, one that would create millionaires. This coming from a couple who barely had enough money to cover their existing financial responsibilities! Here is when the long-term vision came into play. Once the long vision was set, three napkins later, they feverishly wrote the short-term rewards for each action or milestone achieved. For example, next to Jeff’s action of creating a nonprofit organization, the feelings of satisfaction conjured from just accomplishing that goal alone needed to be documented. Writing their feelings fueled their passions. Just the thought of what short-term rewards they would gain as they embarked upon their journey was enough to ignite passion. The take away from this; think long-term and build into that action plan the short-term rewards. For example, when creating that business plan, which is a crucial action step for any business idea, the reward upon completion might be just the feeling derived from completing that first step! Celebrate the small wins.
4. Evidence procedure – Once Sally and Jeff had before them their vision, action steps and strategically placed rewards/milestones as they moved towards realizing their vision, as skeleton as they were, they began listing their evidence procedure. You see, the road to realizing any vision, especially that of owning a business, is not a smooth one. There are sure to be obstacles, many of which may discourage and even cause one to give it. Jeff knew this to be the case and to mitigate this eventuality, he documented throughout the plan, what their process of staying motivated would be. Evidence was the key. When the going gets rough, remember the short wins, the ones that say, hey, look at what we’ve done! We surely can do this. When those discouraging thoughts that are sure to linger in the shadows of their minds begin to peek out, with much intention, Jeff wrote in detail, what their evidence procedure would look like. An example of this was around the lack of capital. The how had not yet manifested only the desired outcome. And because they focused on long instead of short-term goals, it was even more critical that this step needed to be detailed. So for each action he wrote what the possible self-doubt would be. Then he listed a few questions to validate their fears. The fear of having insufficient capital is a prime example. Jeff wrote next to that concern how they were able to move into their new home five years ago having faced with the same obstacle, money. All the things they did to accomplish that goal was the evidence that they can accomplish getting capital for their business. It was the evidence which debunked their fear of not being able to start Small Big Dreams. Where was the fear coming from? What was the evidence that they couldn’t do it? Getting their home on a shoestring was the evidence! This proved to be a tremendous tool. They mapped it out, listed the fears and doubts in advance, they wrote questions to ask themselves and to reflect on why the fear even exists? The take away from this is, we already know that at some point or another self-doubt will emerge, but if there is no evidence to substantiate these fears or “can’t dos”, then proceed. Know the difference between what is real or imagined fears of doubt.
In closing, Sally and Jeff, two persons with very little but with big dreams made a choice to think long-term. There are may books and quotes I can probably fill this page with about how small steps lead to reaching an end goal, I challenge you to take this even further. Create the long-term vision, create long-term actions, reward and celebrate when short-term goals are reached, and finally cut doubt off at the head by pre-determining how you will keep motivated by reflecting on what you have done as opposed to what you think you can’t do. Let passion fuel your vision and watch miracles happen.