The Virtues of Starting Small In Business

The subject which I’m going to be discussing today is one that took me a while to understand myself. At first, the concept of starting small in business just didn’t seem rational to me at the time. Besides, we all go into business for ourselves because we want to earn our financial freedom and even get rich in the process, right? “But,” you might be thinking, “I didn’t get into business to earn nickels and dimes, I want the big bucks!” I’m gonna explain why that is exactly the wrong approach to have when it comes to business.

I can recall conversations I’d had with an older guy who’d been successful in business for more than 50 years (he’s generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue over the years). His main business was selling. He told me that many young entrepreneurs fail because they go into business immediately aiming for the big bucks. He then quoted a statement similar to the one I quoted above as a typical statement given by an up and coming entrepreneur. This is when he said, “But, how do they think I made my millions? I started out collecting pennies and nickels!” If that approach is good enough for a man of his success, it should be good enough for everyone. Here’s another point I will add: After collecting enough nickels and dimes, what eventually happens? Those coins become dollars!

I remember my first full time business, that of being a Graphic Designer. This was 5 years ago and I was in my early twenties old at the time. My intention going into this business was to supplement the income I was making on my job. Being single and having no children, it didn’t take a heck of a lot for me to live on. Heck, my job was only paying $500 a week. After marketing my services for a while, I began to pull in enough money to match my working income. Then I ended up being suspended indefinitely from my job (which lasted four months), which also happened to be unpaid! With rent and bills to pay, thankfully I had money saved up. And like an idiot, I also had a hefty car note. At this point, I pounded the pavement hard trying to drum up new business! Before I knew it, that $500 a week I was making from my job, I was making triple that amount per week from my business. For someone in their early 20’s with no children, that was damn good money. It got to a point where I could relax and make moves throughout the day and the money would just come in. I’d be on a date, and my phone would be ringing with new clients making arrangements to send me money. I attribute that experience to my willingness to start small instead of immediately going for the big bucks. I didn’t expect for it to take off like it did.

Now let’s talk about, from my personal experience again, the downside of going into a business immediately expecting to hit it big. When I first started trading, I had goals of making thousands of dollars a day. I didn’t have a great deal of capital to start with (I’ll discuss why that was key in a moment). I’d have profitable days where I’d make anywhere from $200-$500 dollars. But since I was being greedy and trying to hit the home run, I didn’t recognize how good I had it at that time. So, after a profitable trading day, I’d reenter the market in a haphazard manner when the odds were stacked against trying to hit that thousand-dollar mark and end up losing some of my profits. There would even be times when I’d try to setup for a big move, I’d correctly anticipate it, but I’d be on the wrong side of the trade. Because I was under-capitalized at that time, I couldn’t reverse my position and get on the right side of the move. Eventually, I came to my senses and realized that the best thing for me to do would be to continue to have those $200-$500 dollar days and hold off on the big market moves (there were times when I’d get caught in a big move in my favor and I’d let my profits run way past $500). That way, I could slowly but surely build up my capital and because I’m not trying to anticipate huge market swings, I lower my chances of getting caught on the wrong side of a major swing. That’s the approach I took and it worked really well.

So what was the point of those two personal accounts? I’ll tell you. The point was to illustrate the difference in results when I went into business with the intention of starting small and the intention of hitting it big. One approach had the intention of turning out disastrous, while the other took a realistic approach. You don’t have to be a Graphic Artist or a Trader to understand my point because this simple concept is universal. In order to make it to the big times, you have to be willing to start small. That is evidenced even in the laws of nature. Does a person go from being an infant to immediately becoming an adult? Of course not! There’s a growth period, in that and in everything else. Besides, even if a person did actually succeed in going from 0 to 100, they wouldn’t know how to properly manage it anyways. Don’t believe that’s true? Just look at lottery winners!

Conclusion: There’s no shame in starting small in business. Anyone who says otherwise is most likely not in touch with reality, or a plain ole cynic. While it may be possible to go from 0 to 100, setting that as a goal can lead to disastrous results and huge disappointments. The best thing for you to do as I learned is to set realistic goals and grow from there.

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