Most people are encouraged by parents, coaches, consultants, and writers to dream big — to go for our dreams — to never sell them short. Being optimistic helps a business owner succeed. But sometimes we get too carried away in the bigness of our dreams. Not giving them time to take root and sprout before expecting them to burst forth in full bloom.
This happened recently when a colleague dreamed of launching an annual Alternative Energy Conference for the small towns in his region. He had a great concept and access to both the funds and personnel to carry it out. So he went for it full bore.
He planned a three-day event with speakers, workshops, an exhibit hall, food and entertainment. Vendors signed up. Community organizations lent their names. Facilities for a large crowd were committed. Ads and articles appeared in the local papers. Success seemed imminent.
But throughout the process several of his advisors had been skeptical. They weren’t sure if there was sufficient interest or awareness in the region of the need for energy alternatives. They urged him to start smaller. Try an afternoon event, they urged, to test the drawing power of his idea and to give the region a taste of what a bigger kind of conference like this could bring to the region.
Our colleague remained undeterred. He saw these naysayers as negative thinkers raining on his parade. He considered them small-minded folks who couldn’t grasp the potential of what was possible.
The weekend of the event arrived and everything was spectacular … except the attendance. Those that came found it valuable, but the turnout was small. Vendors were disappointed. His workers were demoralized. The affiliating organizations were embarrassed.
Had he dreamt big, but started small, none of this would have had to happen. Compacted into one afternoon, the small crowd would have seemed large and the event could easily have led to a daylong one the next year with plenty of time for word of mouth and the promise of more to come to build. Funds from a successful small event could be used to finance a larger one and if it was a success too then an even larger one could be planned the year after that. But failing so big damaged his efforts to do this again.
So let’s do dream big. Let’s go for our dreams. Let’s never sell them short. But let’s give them a chance by allowing them time to grow into the full-blown success we envision.
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Adapted from our September, 2011 column in Costco Connection by Paul and Sarah Edwards
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