You have the twinkling of an idea, a feeling fermenting away, a voice nagging at you in the quiet moments, but where to start?
Maybe you have been listening to entrepreneur podcasts, following or attending a Startup organization ….. and now you are ready to pull your Kick-Ass Boots on and step into your business idea.
You will have heard of, or even worked on the Business Model Canvas or the Lean Canvas (Maurya and Osterwalder). You will also by now, be familiar with Simon Sinek’s, WHY, as the starting point of all business.
You have heard people talking of BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) and unicorn businesses or someone making the ubiquitous 6 figures and you start to think maybe you are aiming too small for your business idea.
I have been in this spot before, I have used these models and thinking myself and now years later, I am working with small businesses and find they can be in this position too!. This was highlighted recently when I had two discovery meetings with small, not quite startups but had been going for about 2 to 4 years. They were both at the stage of shutting down their businesses and moving on to employment .
I usually love those first discovery meetings, I get to hear all about who you are, what you are doing and how you got to that point. I get to be curious and ask all sorts of questions, the energy is incredible!!!. We get to find ways we can work together, it can be like a highly charged puzzle, sadly these last two meetings it was more like a damp fizzle. This got me thinking and researching to pin point the moment things went off track for them and perhaps something I could do to help others before it gets to the “hands in the air, walk away moment”.
I am proposing radical smallness
What I am proposing is a new starting point….. INTENTION. Not in a set your intention and the universe will make it happen kind of way….. But a ground zero as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary ” 1: starting point. 2 : the center or origin of rapid or intense change: ” This is the notion of radical smallness, or what French philosopher Gaston Bachelard has called “intimate immensity” (all that reading at Art School did settle in the dusty corners my brain).
I came across this concept in E.F. Schumacher’s book Small Is Beautiful (1973) in which he challenged contemporary business thinking. He was a champion of human-centered economics. Schumacher promoted small-scale, decentralized, resilient and locally controlled businesses (thank you Library job, for teaching me surreptitious speed reading). For anyone thinking of starting a business, before you get too far along or too embroiled in the genius of your idea, or what your why is … take a moment to honestly think, what are your intentions are for this business, product or offering?.
What is your Intention? I’m sure you already know what your intentions are, they are the quiet thoughts that sounds a bit wrong to say out loud. You know….wanting to have a financially successful flexible business so you also have lots of time to do your other stuff ? Wanting to be in the spotlight for your fantastic entrepreneurness? Do you want to see you product in a particular retail outlet?. No one is judging, in fact no one need even know, you don’t even have to voice it, you only have to acknowledge it. Go on, do it!
These are not the WHY’S of your business, these are your personal ground zero. This is how I interpret the idea of “intimate immensity”, the intention is personal and its form is unique to you but how you action that intention has an immense effect, a kind of wave which ripples into the future.
What ever answer you found within yourself will determine how you move forward with your entrepreneurial journey. The majority of startups are self funded, with minimal budgets. So if your intention is global domination, FAME and being able to bathe in money (highly overrated btw) then you would make your first decisions based on this…. applying radical smallness thinking gives you actionable steps to start to grow your business. Local and small-scale are within your control and the thinking can then be applied to each new market or situation. If you want to get from here to there, you have to map it out, not only to show directions but the details and inter-connection at each point along the way. Using small thinking allows you to build big. If on the other hand you want your business to be hyper-local with space for human interaction, then small thinking will let you confidently not get sidetracked by thoughts of expansion and really personalize your offering or service by focusing on the craft, environment or connectedness of it within the bounds of your local situation.
Thinking small is not an on-trend branding strategy but a holistic business strategy. My hope is that taking a small step at the very start of your entrepreneurial journey prevents you stumbling later on.