Think big, act small

By Guest Blogger Stephen Kelly | The Sage Group

What’s the five year plan for your Start-Up Business? If you’ve started a business recently, you’ve no doubt got a plan and it may look something like this: Year One – work hard and get started. Win early customers; Year Two - take on your first full time employees. Careful with cash; Year Three, grow faster, get more capital in the business and get your first office.

It’s good to plan and the old adage “fail to plan is a plan to fail” does come to mind. However, I suspect most people are far too conservative when it comes to charting the future of their business. What if you took your five year plan and condensed it into a five month plan? What if everything you want to achieve before the turn of the decade, could be done before the end of the summer?

It may sound unrealistic, but we are living in an age when a lot of the barriers to growing an international business have been obliterated. It is amazing to consider that out of the handful of Tech companies in the world with over 1 billion customers only one of these companies existed 20 years ago. Google, AliBaba, Amazon are inventions of Founders in just two decades. Take Facebook. In 2004 Mark Zuckerberg launched “The Facebook” from his Harvard dormitory. Within 5 years, the site had 500 million users around the world, as well as headquarters in Palo Alto and Dublin, and was valued at $41 billion a year later. Facebook is such a compelling example because it prompts us to question, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Who knows where any of us could be in five years’ time? It may seem unlikely that your start-up could be the next Facebook, but it’s not impossible. In fact, given the technological progress that’s been made since 2004, you might even shave some time off that estimate and do it in four years!

We live in a world with dwindling boundaries and the internet has ubiquitous reach ignoring many national barriers. Significant changes in digital and social technology mean that businesses today can grow with far fewer obstacles than at any other time. Until recently, it took up to two years just to establish a subsidiary in an overseas market. Today, you can run an international business through digital marketing and internet-enabled selling without having to leave your bed - although probably best that you do!

Similarly, advances in rapid prototyping and 3D printing in the last few years have significantly reduced cost and time barriers to bringing new products to the market. While global logistics companies are competing aggressively for small business customers, providing reliable, low cost shipping to all corners of the globe.

Businesses today can be limited by the imagination of us, the people who work for them. Words of Sage Advice - never stop acting like a start-up. Retain the ability to make quick decisions, delight customers in the moment and move quickly - never lose that imaginative spark and passion that inspired you to start your own business in the first place.

You can follow Stephen on Twitter @skellyCEO or connect on LinkedIn

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