How to think big on a small budget

“Dear sir,

I recently saw your website, read some of your articles – which I think are very well written, but the thing is – I run a very small business and I don’t think any of the things you say are actually practical. Running a small business is time-consuming and it’s expensive, I don’t have the time or money to “think big” – how can a small business think big on a small budget?”

That’s a great question.

Thinking big is seen by many as something done by big companies, by marketing gurus, by people who write blogs – or people who may or may not have had the experience of actually running a small business.

I know from personal experience that running a small business is time-consuming and it can be very expensive to run, to operate and yet still have the time/money to think big.

Think big doesn’t mean “Oh I can do this too, and I can add that” — most businesses don’t have the capacity to do more than what they offer or provide – what think big means is how you can deliver more, how you promote better, how you work smarter.

The most crucial aspect of thinking big that people forget is — “is it actually practical?” — “can we actually do this” and “how do we do this?”

A bad example of thinking big

Recently a colleague of mine had a great street-smart marketing idea to promote resturants – he thought big about how to promote it, about “catching the big fish” – but once I asked “how do you actually deliver it?” he stared blankly – as if it were somebody else’s job to help deliver it.

If you say you can do a particular job and then can’t actually deliver it, that’s not thinking big at all – it’s called “winging it”.

Thinking big must be practical – sure shoot for the moon, think about going nationwide, think about going global – think how much you can make and think about how many contacts you will see — but always think “okay, this is the idea – how do we actually deliver it”

So, getting back to the question — how can a small business think big on a small budget?

Well, think big on low-cost ways of marketing, and promoting your business… think big on attending at least 1 or 2 networking events, and put a budget on it and ask is the investment worth the hassle.

It might be that you can’t do it, or it’s too expensive or the risk isn’t worth the investment – you can always do it later, you can always downsize your idea or do it bits.

To think big doesn’t mean you think without rules, without a budget — all you need is an idea and know how to deliver it – be it advertising, promotions or marketing.

In short, a small business *can* think big – simply choose one area you want to think big, be practical about the idea, then shoot for the moon!

Self-help books don’t help

Buy SHAMBuy this book from Amazon

“SHAM exposes the duplicity of self-help books…”

In Sham : How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless Steve Salerno makes a blistering critique of self-help books, gurus and “programs” – claiming that the predatory and fraudulent practices of self-help books have corrosive effects on society, and that they cause more harm than good.

Salerno has a great point. Self-help books don’t help. Putting faith into self-help books to “empower” your growth away from “victim-hood” is a not a path at all, rather its an addiction.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
— Budda

SHAM which stands for The Self-Help and Actualization Movement, is a $8-billion-a-year industry that depends on legions of repeat customers. I think that statement is true. You buy one book, you feel good — for a while — then you feel bad again and go out and buy another one, or buy the audio-program because you feel, in some-way, in-efficent.

One of the many people Salerno exposes is the the “hypocrisy” of Dr. Phil (who, psychologists say, shames rather than helps his guests) and Dr. Laura (the preacher of family values who didn’t know when her own mother was murdered), among many others. He cites examples of “junk science”, such as Tony Robbins’s talk of “the energy frequency of foods,” and charges that untested alternative medicine draws people away from proven medical treatments.

Salerno argues, quite rightly, that self-help does not cover the real problems underpinning our problems – we never really solve the problem, rather self-help books bate-and-switch us into believing that our solution is that we don’t take responsibility, or that we don’t accept accountability, or that we don’t feel loved.

Some of the stuff in the book is laugh out loud hilarous and Salerno arguments are well structured and documented clearly and understandably. One of the many problems with this book is that some of the arguments have a “yes, but…” tangent to them.

For example, I don’t believe Napoleon Hill should be blamed for all the self-help books out there. He wrote his book in the middle of the depression and is an excellent read. I don’t believe that all self-help books are junk, Krishna, Qur’an, and Budda’s teachings are excellent — but they aren’t called self-help books, rather they are based on teachings, ideals, faith and religion.

SHAM is a good read, and has good arguments on the “faith” people put into the SHAM industry and how it exploits them.

One of the things I wondered when I read SHAM was whether SHAM, just another self-help book in disguise? Is SHAM a sheep in wolf’s clothing? To be honest, I do not know — it is certainly has some good, worthy arguments – and is probably worthy of a better read one day.

In the end, self-help books don’t help people – people help people. You don’t *need* a self-help book to get help, if you need help – ask for help!

If you still need help but didn’t ask – and still rely on self-help books to get you where you want to be then you’ll never get there.

Overall: 6/10.

Buy SHAM from Amazon