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October 19, 2009

Think Big. Start Small.

(photo courtesy of Helena Comella)

Oh, how easy it is to get ahead of ourselves!

As soon as an idea strikes, we picture ourselves running a hugely successful enterprise with all the bells and whistles only to lose all motivation when the reality of all the work involved sinks in. For me, the experience is quite like that of a balloon. One minute I am all pumped up and the other I am looking saggy, sad and deflated.

Perhaps there is something to the saying "walk before you run" after all. Case in point, meet my friend, Dana. She is looking to re-enter the work force. She is interested in starting her own business. She knows she loves art, music, nature and traveling. She is incredible with kids and she loves teaching and educational philosophy. Oh, did I forget to add she is one of the most creative people I have ever met? So I suggest that she starts teaching a class for kids that combines music, art, nature and has themes around traveling the world. I know I would sign my kids up for her class in a heartbeat.

Yes, she says, I have taught a few classes at my house like that in the past and they sold out right away. I loved teaching them.

I scratch my head; she scratches her head. And then she tells me that her real dream is to have a whole center with creative classes for children and parents. She has so many ideas around this center. But she says she doesn't have the money or experience to start a center like this right now. She starts to look totally overwhelmed and I watch her experience the balloon phenomenon right before my eyes.

I scratch my head again and say, “Why don’t you start by teaching one or two classes again?” From my perspective, this would be a great way to get the ball rolling. You will start to gain a following, you will start to be known in your community, you will learn what you enjoy (is it the teaching, is it training other teachers, is it developing the curriculum, is it planning for the development of a larger business, etc.). You may also be approached by someone who has the same vision for the center and wants to partner. She smiles.

As we have written about in the past, there are at least 30 different potential futures for every business. (Some are right for you, some are not. You may lean towards a particular outcome at first, only to love another farther down the pike.) But it is important to recognize that the beginning of anything is small. And, futures, even the potential ones, only really exist once you take that first step.

Instead of trying to get ahead of yourself, stay out of your own way. As we like to say: Start small, dream big and enjoy the ride - there will be many unexpected twists and turns along the way.

-Amy Abrams

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