How to Think Big: An Entrepreneur’s 3 Step Guide

October 31, 2014 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

images-5Professor and Author Jim Collins took the stage at a Direct Selling Association conference. The room, a mix of entrepreneurs and corporate executives, populated the large ballroom. Major leaders  such as Pampered Chef, Avon, and Amway peppered the crowd. The industry also welcomed newer, trend-setting companies including Stella & Dot and Origami Owl. The words Collins shared united the audience, because it had to do with potential. Could we all rise from “Good…to Great?” Our companies…and ourselves?

It’s the age-old question: Are we reaching our potential? Can we dream the big dream, and reach it?

In this post, I feature a summary of the three major steps which theorists and articles touch upon time after time.

“A ‪#goal without a plan is just a wish”


Step 1: The idea

Creative thinkers out there may take this step for granted, but thinking big or creatively may not come naturally for many. To engage in the practice of thinking differently, there are a few tricks and techniques:

  • Tools – tools such as Mind Mapping help put entrepreneurs, and others, through an exercise of unlimited brainstorming based on a central core concept (e.g., “Music / Entertainment”, or “Fitness”). Any word that comes into your mind goes down on the page and is organized later for idea capture.
  • Mindset – Getting in the right mindset to “think big” can also be a challenge. In this article, Deepak Chopra cautions us against what can be a natural resistance to new ideas. Looking to the examples of others and thinking on a daily basis about what you want to accomplish can be helpful ways to break through this barrier.

Step 2: Executing on the idea

Making the idea happen, or “idea execution” or “implementation” is often a sore spot for “idea people.” There will be time constraints. Sometimes, there are focus problems. There can be resource challenges. With every challenge, theorists and researchers – and entrepreneurs themselves – counsel that persistence, grit, and focus are needed. Components of this step include:

  • Set a goal – Setting a goal, ideally with actual numbers / measurements, is key to reaching a goal. More from Melissa Joy Kong on her goal setting process.
  • Overcome challenge – Inevitably, there will be challenge. A Japanese proverb states: “Fall down 7 times, get up 8.” Decide how you will respond to and overcome challenge. Taking Chopra’s advice from Step 1 to expand our minds on this topic, consider reading this article on “Famous People Who Found Success Despite Failures” by Benny Hsu.


3) Skill and Self Mastery

All additional research beyond thinking and doing big things, points to refinement of skills and the self. A “mastery,” if you will. This can be approached many ways, but involves the ability to have ideas, act on them, and keep your “finger on the pulse” of the company, and yourself, and more. Here are a few angles:

  • Asking questions, constant prioritization. Jim Collins’ says:
  1. Engage in the 12 questions.
  2. Have no more than three major priorities at any one time.
  3. Make a “stop doing” list.
  • Discipline – There is always an air of discipline in the success stories of entrepreneurs and large companies. Even the “idea person” surround themselves with balanced managers. Someone who is “driven,” is disciplined…compelled to purse their vision and improve relentlessly. Collins notes two big reasons for failure is a failure to appropriately test a concept, and execute after the test…but also a lack of discipline. He says, “A sign of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.”
  • Evaluation (with peers and mentors) – Finally, many entrepreneurs cycle through a mental or actual list of areas targeted for refinement, often with the help of others (e.g., entrepreneur groups, mentors, etc). Educators, see the EITC curriculum , Module 3, for a list of established and start up entrepreneur resources.

 “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

— Albert Einstein.


More from EITC (Entrepreneur in the Classroom)

More Information The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization promoting the importance of small business and free enterprise to the nation’s youth. More information is available at The Foundation is associated with the National Federation of Independent Business; NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals.

Entrepreneur In The Classroom. The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom (EITC) supplemental curriculum exposes students to entrepreneurship and the necessary steps to take an idea and turn it into a business. The free curriculum can be integrated into classes teaching a variety of subjects including music, art, fashion, business and many more. Just register for full access to the Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom curriculum. Click here for more.

Related links

Follow NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation on Twitter

Like NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation on Facebook

Follow EITC curriculum author Kathy Korman Frey on Twitter

Entry filed under: Business exercises, Curriculum, Educators, Entrepreneur, Free, Helpful tips, Resources, Teachers, Teaching tools, Young Entrepreneur. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

2015 NFIB Young Entrepreneur Award Applications Open! Who are You and How does this Influence your Entrepreneurial Journey?

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