Small Business, BIG Vision: A Video Teaser

Think back to the moment you decided to go into business for yourself.  How did you feel?  Excited?  Nervous?  A little of both?  Did you have a creative outburst and pour your heart and soul into your business from the beginning?  As time goes by, and excitement makes way for routine, a vision plan will help you recapture the passion that got you started in the first place.

Clarify Your Vision

Create a clear image of exactly what you want to achieve.  This isn’t something esoteric.  Simply imagine a tangible target and write it down.  Your vision may be a financial goal, a personal acquisition, business expansion, or anything else your heart desires.  It’s about you and your loved ones.

Set Milestones

Contribute time and effort everyday to achieving your vision.  A large challenge is more easily digested when you chop it up into little bite size morsels.  Now that you’ve got something well defined to aim for, start taking the appropriate steps to reach your goal.  Think of your vision like the rocky peak of a sky-high mountain.  Would you try to climb to the top in one day?  One year?  Your milestones are your checkpoints as you scale your way to the summit.  After you’ve written down your milestones, your vision plan starts to come into focus.  What before had only form, has now taken on structure.

Vision Plan

Your vision plan is about personal inspiration, it’s not a business report.  Look to pictures or evensongs for inspiration.  Let your vision be pragmatic but also strive to feel your vision in the emotional centers of your brain.  A clear vision should tug at your core, driving you forward with resolve.  Harness that determination and fill in the gaps between the milestones you’ve set.  Chop up your plan into monthly mini-goals and then further into daily and weekly action items.  If you feel a part of your daily schedule is interfering with realizing your vision plan, cut it out.  Look for fresh ways to become more efficient in reaching your milestones.  Make a commitment to yourself and begin to effect changes in your daily life to make your vision a reality.

Use Your Vision Plan

Let your vision plan be your map in the territory of accomplishment and consult it everyday.  If you were a pirate hunting buried treasure, would you look at your map one time and then discard it, hoping for the best?  Don’t make the mistake of tossing your vision plan into a cluttered desk in your drawer and then neglecting it.


Roadblocks are inevitable on any road to success.  You’ll experience feelings of fatigue and disheartenment.  Keep in mind that anything worth doing doesn’t come easily.  Your vision plan should be your ally and your muse.  It should also be somewhat demanding.  If you’re not feeling motivated, consult your map and remember the commitment you made to yourself and your plan.  Don’t let your vision plan down.  After all, it’s a reflection of your dreams and ideals.

Making a personal vision plan is not just a fun way to systemize your thoughts.  It’s a powerful inspirational and organizational tool that pushes you face first toward success.  It reminds you of why you became an entrepreneur and keeps your passion burning like a never-ending candle.  Get started on your vision plan today and don’t look back.

Small Business, BIG Vision Wins Gold – But Don’t Just Read It

My brother Matthew and I would like to thank all of you who helped make Small Business, BIG Vision the 2012 Gold Award Winning Small Business Book. We’re proud and honored to have won the award, and we appreciate all the support we have received from so many of our readers.

And from what we know, most find there’s more to the book than just reading it. Small Business, BIG Vision may be an interesting and valuable read cover-to-cover, but if that’s the only way you use this book, you’ve only gotten half of the benefit from it. With a combination of big-view insights, stories of success, and real-world everyday ideas to apply to your business, we think SBBV is a good read and also a good resource.

When you read a book from start to finish, much of its information gets lost in the process. There’s a communication concept that’s known as “Primacy/Recency.” This means that we tend to remember the first and last things we read much more than everything in the middle. To avoid losing that valuable insight, chop up your learning. This also works well for a non-reader. Here are some tactics we’ve used with our favorite business books. We hope some of these ideas help you to take full advantage of SBBV.

Copy and cut. As you read, are there concepts that strike you as valuable – possibly too valuable to just read past? Copy that page and cut out just the piece that drew your attention. Enlarge it and place in a file folder. As you continue through the book, copy and clip the concept highlights. Post one of these on a nearby bulletin board or on a wall by your desk. Change them out as they become too familiar. Over time, you will own those concepts.

Story power: SBBV is full of first-hand tales of successful entrepreneurs. Each had his or her own style, but every one of them found a path to success. How about reading one of those stories every Monday morning before you write your plans for the day or the week? As you read it, think about how that entrepreneur’s approach might apply to your business. Did he or she use tactics that might make your company stronger? Does this week’s entrepreneur have qualities that you would like to develop in yourself? Over the course of the week when faced with a decision ask yourself, how would this week’s entrepreneur handle this?

Tidbits: Every page of our book includes hands-on tips and suggestions to help your business run more effectively. Employee issues, contemporary marketing tools such as social media, and developing and writing a business plan are covered in straightforward and practical ways. When a topic is discussed that you know has come up or will come up as you build your business, make sure you can track down the source. Buy some of those page-market post-its, position them as appropriate in the book, and write a few keywords down on the flap. By the time you finish, you will have bookmarked every important area for easy reference.

Sharing: If you read something that you’d like everyone else in your organization to understand, tuck a brief quote in a memo, add it to a staff meeting agenda, or leave a copy of SBBV in the break room with a page marker and a note encouraging everyone to read it over coffee. Every member of an entrepreneurial organization will perform better if their understanding of the goals and challenges are improved.

Inspiration: Sometimes being an entrepreneur can seem overwhelming and discouraging. Grab some of the inspiring quotes and phrases we added to Small Business, BIG Vision and let them motivate you on those tough days.

We wrote this book with the hope that it would be read, paged through, used, and generally kept handy on every entrepreneur’s bookshelf. We hope you agree that reading it is just the start.

 “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France, Poet

Are You Serious About Becoming an Entrepreneur?

Are You Serious About EntrepreneurshipChoosing whether to stay in what you may consider the comfort and safety of your current job or to venture out on your own can often be a very difficult decision to make. Before you hand your boss a letter of resignation, it’s important to determine whether you’re truly feeling an entrepreneurial impulse, or if you’re simply sick of the way things currently are and grasping for a change.

As we highlight in Small Business, BIG Vision, one of the amazing things about entrepreneurship is that you can create your own destiny. Not only that, but it’s quite an adrenaline rush to build something successful from the ground up. Starting up isn’t nearly as easy as is often depicted by the media, however. It isn’t usually a life filled with neato office studios, pinball machines, and late-night collaborations with an endless supply of pizza. Rather, it’s very long work days – and nights – often alone. You can also forget having relaxing work-free nights and weekends. Often times, business owners use these times to catch up on all of the work that they were unable to get to during the week.

Some Things to Consider Before Quitting Your Job

When venturing into entrepreneurship, many people find that if they don’t have a large savings, they need a credit card advance in order to pay for business expenses, and to cover living expenses too. You’ll also most likely be spending far less time with your family, and more time with business associates. And if you’re thinking of hiring people to join you in your venture, you’ve got to realize that the success of your business means not only being responsible for your own livelihood, but also the livelihood of anyone who joins your team. (This is one reason why, in the book, we advocate outsourcing as much as possible.)

Uncertainty is also a harsh reality of entrepreneurship. Then again, remaining with a large company where you aren’t building any equity is living the reality of uncertainty as well. Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, there are risks involved. What needs to be done is an assessment of exactly which set of risks you are willing to take.

The HUGE Up-Side to Entrepreneurship

You may be asking yourself why on earth anyone would venture into entrepreneurship after learning of all of these difficult aspects. Obviously, there are also some outstanding advantages to entrepreneurship too. If there weren’t, the numbers of entrepreneurs around the world would not be increasing at the fantastic rates they are.

The day-to-day life of an entrepreneur can be utterly exhausting at times, but as we discuss in Small Business, BIG Vision, if you’re truly passionate about your vision, it will become a labor of love and you’ll wind up enjoying yourself more than you’d ever imagined. Being an entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to build a company of your own, contribute to the world in a meaningful way, and truly fulfill your dreams. There really is nothing else like it, and once you get bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, there’s no turning back.

Sure, the path to entrepreneurship can be a bumpy one, but if you have the right reasons for starting your new business, and have realistic expectations, the road will be smoother, and you’ll find that it’s actually immensely enjoyable.

Regardless of where your entrepreneurial urge comes from, making the decision to follow that urge can be life-changing. When it comes down to being truly serious about venturing into entrepreneurship, the fundamental question to ask yourself is this: Are you willing to give it your absolute all, knowing that you may fail? And when you experience setbacks, do you have the resilience to get back up, dust yourself off, and try again? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then it really is time to go for it! There’s no guarantee of success, but one thing is certain – you will never be bored!

10 Excellent Excuses – And How to Move Past Them

No ExcusesIn Small Business, BIG Vision, we talk a lot about, well, vision – of course. One thing that will get in the way of reaching your vision more than just about anything else is making excuses for not taking the actions necessary to reach your goals. There are times when saying, “No” is much easier than saying, “Yes.” And there’s no doubt that sometimes “No” is the most appropriate answer.

The trick is to know when you’re not doing something because it’s the right move, and when, in fact, you’re just making excuses. Not only do we sometimes make excuses to others, but often we can find we’re making excuses to ourselves.


Below are examples of 10 common excuses – and how to move past them:

1. I’m too busy: Using the excuse that you’re too busy won’t get you any sympathy from anyone, and it won’t get you what you really want. The fact is, we’re all busy. This isn’t something that’s exclusive to only you. Since everyone is busy, nobody’s really going to care how busy you are. The bottom line is that if something is important to us, we make time for it.

Sometimes, people feel that using the “I’m busy” excuse will get them off the hook for not taking necessary action. The truth is, you’re just hurting yourself if you put things off – for any reason. Instead of using the excuse that you’re too busy, ask yourself what you need to be able to do everything that’s most important to you. Maybe it’s just better time management, or maybe it’s foregoing your weekly golf game. It’s a matter of prioritizing what’s important, and managing the 24 hours you have each day.

2. I’m too tired: Just as with “I’m busy,” telling yourself or someone else that you’re too tired to get things done won’t get you very far. Let’s face it; we are all tired a lot of the time. Using the excuse that you’re too tired to get things accomplished is just that – an excuse. People who are determined to get things done will get them done regardless of whether they’re tired or not.

If you truly feel as though you’re too tired to do what’s needed to build your business, take a look at your diet, and the amount (and quality) of sleep you’re getting. Unless you have a medical condition, how you feel is in your hands. That’s what makes “I’m tired” an excuse. Take control of your own energy, and make sure you’re not to tired to make your dreams realities!

3. I don’t feel good: There will inevitably be times when you’re genuinely feeling too ill to get things done. Most people are sympathetic during times like these and will certainly cut you some slack, and it’s important to take care of yourself when you’re legitimately sick. The problem is that a lot of people use this excuse during times when they simply don’t feel like putting forth the effort required to get a project completed.

Again, how you feel is almost always within your control. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, and don’t let how you feel physically get in the way of accomplishing what you want in life.

4. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea: We often see entrepreneurs put off starting a business because they just don’t know if their idea will fly. Guess what – you won’t know. There is no surefire way to know without a doubt that any business is going to do well. There is one guarantee we can give you though: If you don’t even try, you definitely will not succeed.

If you’re not sure your idea is a good one, you need to do your due diligence. Research the market, competitors, costs, and the needs of your target audience. You still won’t come away with a guarantee, but all you need is to be confident you have what it takes to make your idea a reality. With confidence, many “bad” ideas have been wildly successful!

5. It’s not the right time: Timing can be important. If you’re just now entering the vinyl record manufacturing business, you’re going to have a rough go of it. But that’s not the kind of timing that most people use as an excuse. What we often see is that entrepreneurs are waiting for the perfect time in their life, schedule, or career to launch their venture. Unfortunately, many great ideas never come to light, because that perfect time never comes.

To move past this excuse, ask yourself how you can get started right now. Maybe starting now – when everything isn’t in perfect alignment – will mean it will take longer to get your business off the ground. That’s okay. If you wait for the perfect time, it may never happen!

6. I don’t know how to start: A lot of people have amazing ideas that are in no way related to their past experience or expertise. In many of these cases, they assume they won’t be able to be successful, because they don’t know how to get started. In reality, this is just an excuse. There is almost nothing that can’t be learned by someone of reasonable intelligence in a fairly short amount of time. The Internet has all the information you could ever want on almost any subject you can think of. It’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough to do what it takes to learn what you need to know. If you don’t know how to start, figure it out. Get help if you need to. Start networking with people who know more than you about the topic. The options are limitless – as long as you really want to get started.

7. I’m scared: How many great ideas never leave would-be entrepreneurs’ heads because they’re afraid of failure, criticism, or the unknown? Probably millions. What many people don’t realize is that the entrepreneurs who have become successful didn’t do so feeling no fear. They had the same fears and concerns but took action anyway. And that makes all the difference!

8. It’s not what I’m used to: We all have a comfort zone, and breaking out of it can feel like quite a daunting task. The reason you feel so comfortable in this zone is because you know exactly what to expect. In many ways, this goes back to #7. Allowing yourself to go out on a limb can feel terrifying because of a fear of failure. You fear that you may lose something, but the reality is that you have so much to gain.

The trick is in becoming comfortable with the feeling of uncertainty and using it to your advantage. Rather than looking at a new venture as overwhelming and frightening, choose to look at it as a new and refreshing journey. You stand to gain so much more when you allow yourself to lower your walls of fear.

9. I’m too young or too old: When talking about business, age simply doesn’t have to be a factor. These days, younger and younger people are finding success in the business world. And nobody is ever too old to chase their dreams of business success. While you may feel that younger generations have an upper hand, this is not necessarily true. With age comes wisdom.

Rather than using your age as an excuse, why not use it to your advantage? After all, there are considerable advantages to both young and seasoned entrepreneurs. And in the end, success has very little to do with age, and much more to do with passion and perseverance.

10. It’s impossible: When faced with an extremely difficult task, it’s natural to want to give up and consider the task to be impossible. However, the word “impossible” is not part of the vocabulary of true entrepreneurs. Yes, this may mean having to fail a few times before becoming successful, but even when we fail, we learn valuable lessons. So if something seems impossible, think of it instead as a challenge. If any person has ever done it, you can do it too. If not, you can be the first!

Recognizing excuses for what they are is the first step in leaving them behind. Beyond that, it’s all up to you. You can either accept the excuses you’re giving yourself and others, or you can work to move past them. Which path do you think leads to your BIG Vision?

Answers to 5 Common Entrepreneurial Questions

Entrepreneurial QuestionsWhen trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, you will have an endless number of questions. Whether it’s your first shot at being in business for yourself or you’ve done it before, some questions are sure to continue popping up. Below are some of the most common questions with some ideas about how to answer them. This article won’t answer all your questions, but it will get you off to a great start!


How will I know if my business idea is a good one?

Speaking with potential customers before you go forward with building on your start-up is important. By speaking with these people, you will either have your assumptions validated, or you’ll learn that they were all wrong. Either way, you’re gaining some valuable insight. Although it can be difficult to hear criticism at times, learning from criticism can save you a whole lot of time and heartache. Certainly don’t fool yourself by assuming that the source of the criticism is crazy and you’re doing everything correctly. Be realistic and face the truth gracefully.


How do I fund for my start-up?

As we outline in Small Business, BIG Vision, if at all possible, you don’t. Bootstrapping is always our preferred startup method. One good idea is to start out by doing some consulting services for customers, which tends to have almost no overhead. By doing this, you’re not only supporting yourself, but you’re also remaining in contact with the customers and are learning which problems they have. Then you can develop a product or service based on a clear understanding of what your customers’ wants and needs are, rather than on your assumptions.


In the next five years, which industries have the biggest growth potential?

Look around. What big problems do you see? By looking for problems, you’re also looking into the biggest opportunities. Poverty, homelessness, energy crisis, water crisis, etc. All of these are huge problems. You could address some of these problems with your new company. Another place to look for problems is within big companies. In every industry, there are giants, and it’s inevitable that within these giants of industry, there are places where they are weak. You can look for these holes and create an expertise related to them. For example, although Google is obviously the largest search provider, it’s not the only one, because others have seen where they are lacking and created companies around the needs that are not being met by Google.


How can I possibly overcome my fear of failure?

In the book, we focus on the importance of having a clear vision. Your vision helps overcome fear because it allows you to picture your business as successful and focus on that picture. You also need to find some sort of philosophy to draw inspiration from. Whether you get your inspiration from a book like Small Business, BIG Vision or Aristotle, the important point is that you’re gaining inspiration. It’s becoming increasingly popular for entrepreneurs to use other business leaders as their sources of inspiration. Look around – there’s something out there for you.


Where can I find mentors?

Take a close look at the people who you’re surrounded by every day. Who has your respect and truly believes in you? Do they respect your work? Someone like this has a terrific potential for becoming a good mentor for you. This type of relationship is a very personal one, so it’s important that you have good chemistry with one another, and not only common business interests and goals. You can expect to invest a lot of time and emotional energy with your mentor. If you can find someone who will allow you to do a little bit of work for them, it can provide a setting in which they can coach you. In a sense, you are working for each other in this way.

So, what about all the other questions you have? Take the time to seek out people who will not only answer your questions, but also provide you with examples of their own experiences. The more knowledge you can gain ahead of time, the more successful you will be. Some of our BIG Vision Offers include time with both of us, and we’d love to work with you to answer your questions and get you on the road to successful entrepreneurship!