Start small, plan BIG when launching your business

Regardless of how small you’re starting, it pays to think big. Starting small is OK, it limits the risk. And it reduces headaches while you’re figuring it all out. But planning for BIG can eliminate future, BIGGER headaches.

Let’s say you’re starting a creperie. You’re going to have to create menu items, a process for employees, purchase equipment, etc. Let’s say it’s a success and you start considering a second location. If you named the restaurant “Greensboro Creperie”, now all of a sudden you’re geographically limited in relevant expansion locations. Or let’s say you work there all the time and don’t give employees the chance to run the show by putting clear, concise systems in place. Now you’ve got to delay expansion until you can train a manager to replace you. It’s better to put these systems (AKA processes) in place, almost thinking of the business as the first of a national franchise and work backwards to make it so it could be, even if you only ever plan on opening the single location.

Another example: You want to start a line of quirky T-shirts and decide to call it Quirky Tees. BOOM! You just created two Artifical Barriers. You limited yourself to t-shirts, and you limited yourself to quirky ones. In and of itself, that’s not bad. Niche sites and stores can do great. But it might be worth thinking through future plans. Do you want to build it into an apparel brand? Probably best if you rename it. But maybe you want to build a system for creating niche online stores, then the name for this one is fine, but the process for setting up the stores on the backend should be as streamlined as possible. Sourcing, warehousing and shipping those items should have clean processes that are documented and easily replicated.

Or let’s say you want to start a blog. I’ve done that twice now. The first was Bikerumor, and it was built from the ground up to be a “media outlet”, not a personal blog. I spent the money to have it professionally built back in 2008 when there weren’t any great plug-n-play website builders like there are today. I wrote in the third person because the content was never going to be about me. It was designed to put the content front and center so new writers could be brought on board and I could take days or weeks off writing as needed. I also registered about 40 more (something) domain names to lock down the naming scheme. Then I registered the plural of those. I have almost 120 different domain names registered now. The goal from the beginning was to create a media company, so that’s how I set it up.

The second website is what you’re reading now. The Build Cycle is intentionally located at because it’s my thing. For the topic of building a business, I wanted to get my name out there a little, so I set this business up to accomplish that. That said, I’m still thinking big. I’ve invested in high quality recording equipment for the podcast, spent the time learning how to produce them efficiently and creating my own checklists of what to do to promote my posts, videos and podcasts. I have a list of people I want to interview and get noticed by, and have written down a timeline and steps to accomplish this. (BTW – I built this website myself on a $40 WordPress theme and a few days of fiddling and brushing up on CSS. My, how times have changed.)

Each business will need different things to scale or grow. The point here is to encourage you to think about what the business could be in the future. That should dictate how you name it, its structure and the processes that will help you get there…and the things you should avoid that might limit that growth. There’s no harm in thinking BIG and planning for it, and the upside could be HUGE down the road.

Want more examples? Leave a comment with your basic idea and I’ll reply with (hopefully) helpful ideas.

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