If you think small you stay small.


Being an entrepreneur means you’re the type of person who is willing to launch a venture and reap the rewards for success, as well as take responsibility for failure.

But being an entrepreneur also means you’re small—at least when starting out. Of course, what most small businesses really want is to be big businesses when they grow up. Yet many entrepreneurs suffer from what we call size syndrome.

Because they are small, they think and act small—and therein lies the problem. Because thinking small and playing small usually keep you, well… small. What small-business owners and entrepreneurs should be doing is thinking, acting and playing big, especially when it comes to the size of clients they call on.

Here are three steps to start overcoming size syndrome:

1. The first barrier to overcome is the belief that large prospects (be they individuals or organizations) have no interest in your products or services. The reality is, they don’t care so much about the size of your business; they care about solving their problems, wherever the solutions come from.

When thinking about calling on a big account, the real question is: Do you have something of value they might want, need or would benefit from? If you do, then you need to put your perception of smallness aside and get on with telling them your story.

2. The second barrier to overcome is realizing that “calling on a company” is a misnomer. You are never calling on a business; you are calling on a person. The ABC Company can’t call on IBM. It’s always one person calling another person. Because businesses don’t buy anything; people do!

And never let the size or reputation of an organization (or the title or position of the person you’re dealing with) intimidate you. Yes, Bill Smith might be vice president of purchasing for IBM, but, first and foremost, he’s a husband, father and human being—the coach of his 8-year-old daughter’s soccer team with a painful bunion on his big toe.

3. Finally, small-business owners need to understand that a no is a no—no matter how big the prospect. So, if you’re going to get a no, why not make it a big one?

Here’s a perfect example: In the NBA, you can attempt 2-pointers or 3-pointers. Analysis of a recent season showed that the success rate for the 10 best NBA players on 2-pointers was 46.9 percent and on 3-pointers it was 33.8 percent. In other words, it’s only 38 percent harder to make a 3-point shot, but the reward is 50 percent greater! But that’s the 10 best, you’re thinking. The numbers probably don’t hold up for the bottom 10. You’d be right—but only because the bottom 10 players in the NBA didn’t take any 3-point shots at all.

Bottom line: It takes no more energy to get a big no than to get a small one. As the saying goes, Easy yeses produce little successes. And if you’re a small business that wants to become a big business, big nos are the way to go.

Ask yourself: Are my expectations of what’s possible big enough? Or am I lowering them just because I see myself as small? Am I asking and settling for scraps? Or am I shooting for the stars?

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