October 25, 2014

The Power of Thinking Big, But Starting Small

think big act small

How did Google manage to come out of nowhere? And how did it grow to reach $58 billion in annual revenues in 2013 — all in under two decades?

There are many explanations for the company’s phenomenal growth. But one technique small businesses can learn from is the ability to think big, yet take small steps. Here’s how it works.

In a post from Google’s Think Insights, Google’s former Senior Vice President of Adwords and AdSense, now Senior Vice President at YouTube, Susan Wojcicki explains. The process starts with the company’s Eight Pillars of Innovation. One of those pillars, says Wojcicki, is “think big, act small.”

This means the company may have big ambitious goals. But it starts to achieve those goals by taking small steps, one at a time.

Wojcicki writes:

“No matter how ambitious the plan, you have to roll up your sleeves and start somewhere. Google Books, which has brought the content of millions of books online, was an idea that our Founder, Larry Page, had for a long time. People thought it was too crazy even to try, but he went ahead and bought a scanner and hooked it up in his office. He began scanning pages, timed how long it took with a metronome, ran the numbers and realized it would be possible to bring the world’s books online. Today, our Book Search index contains over 10 million books.”

Can you imagine a billionaire scanning book pages? It seems an unlikely picture. But, with that kind of attitude, it’s not hard to see how Google has grown so big and so fast.

Do you have big goals in your business? Do they seem unimaginably far away and hard to obtain? Well, all you need to do is start one step at a time.

Rohit Arora, CEO and Co-Founder of Biz2Credit, tells us the key to achieving any resolution is to set small goals.

Rohit explains:

“Setting a goal of 50 percent growth in a year is noble, but it can be daunting. A smarter way is to plan smaller, more manageable and less overwhelming growth rates for each month of the year. By the time next December rolls around, the overall increase for the year may indeed be closer to the target.”

Start with where you want your business to be next month. You may be surprised at the results.

Think Big Photo via Shutterstock

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Shawn Hessinger - Editor


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Editor for Small Business Trends. He is a journalist and social media networker with more than a decade of experience in the traditional newspaper business before moving to the digital world. He was the former community manager of BizSugar and the former community editor at AllAnalytics, a site dedicated to professionals in the business intelligence and analytics community.

6 Reactions

  1. Slow and steady wins the race. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We have lots of platitudes for this, but the real victory is the self-discipline to take that first step and then keep moving forward.

    • Hi Robert,
      For me, and I think for a lot of other people, it really requires getting rid of this all or nothing mindset. Like Rohit says, it’s about breaking down big goals into manageable size. How do you decide to get in shape, for example? Do you all of a sudden quit your job, spend every day at the gym and switch from hamburgers and fries to rabbit food over night? That might work for a very select few. But for most it’s a recipe for failure. Go to the gym once a week, if you can. Can you eventually make it two? Three? Cut out an extra dessert or have a salad for lunch once a week instead of a less healthy choice. And never tell yourself that taking little steps is the same as doing nothing. It’s no different with big ideas in business.

  2. It also helps to not think about the money and just think of one gift that you can create and give to the world. Google started that way. It provided search without asking for anything in return. And this is how its user base grew.

  3. Thanks. Great article. I like the idea of setting monthly goals.

    By the way, which floating social sharing plugin are you using please?

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