Small businesses making big things happen

In 1962 in Houston, Texas, President John F. Kennedy declared that “we choose to go to the moon”. He inspired a nation at a time when the idea of such a thing was a vague notion. He set in train an enterprise which, only seven years later, would lead to America being the first country to set its flag on the moon. His vision brought people together to achieve something extraordinary.

Sometimes a business reaches a point where it’s doing fine. Its making a reasonable profit, but it’s not necessarily setting the world on fire or living up to the dreams that caused it to exist in the first place. Sometimes a business is struggling, just about (or not even) breaking even – in order to survive, something has to change.

When you think about your business, what is the one goal that would make all the difference? A goal that would drive your purpose, the energy and passion. Which moon would you choose to go to? Bring that goal to life – picture it, describe it, think about what it would mean to you if it were to come about.

Then think about what would happen if you didn’t bring it to life. For some businesses that means falling behind the competition or losing its best people to more inspiring alternatives. For some businesses it means failing to stay in business. Just as you brought the exiting vision to life if you did achieve the goal, face up to the alternative – take the time to imagine the greyer, darker world if the goal were never to come about.

When JFK made his announcement, he didn’t just set out a grand vision. He followed on to describe a long list of things that would need to be achieved to bring that vision about. He talked about the need for things that “have not yet been invented”, he talked about the need for boldness. When you think about the goal you want to achieve, the next thing to think about is what is it going to take to bring it about. There are plenty of people and businesses who fall at this point, but if you really want this, you will really need to be determined. What will you need? Will you need time, money, people, something that has not even been invented yet? Will you need to learn new things, be inspired by new people? JFK said that day “we must pay what needs to be paid”.

There are those who think that we should all be really positive and the universe will make everything work out for us. I think that if we work out the negative things that are going to get in the way, we have a much better chance of addressing them. We can be positive about defeating the negative!

Often when we are leading SMEs we feel alone, that it’s all up to us. While we do need to take the lead, there are all sorts of people who can help us. From partners who will share the investment and the effort, through to friends and family who will listen to us when we want to give up and when we want to celebrate. The key is to invite them along, just as JFK did. Who will go there with you, all the way to your moon?

Small businesses don’t need to settle for small goals. In 1962 JFK said they would go to the moon, and they did. What goal will you achieve when you set your sights on it and relentlessly drive it to completion?