As an entrepreneur, you have dreams – maybe lots of ‘em, maybe just one laser-focused goal.
And I’m sure you’ve heard the advice to “dream big” – this sentiment is EVERYWHERE. Ahem, case in point:
Most people would scoff if you told them you dream of being a thousandaire (side note: why isn’t that a word?) when you could dream of being a MILLIONaire instead. Well-meaning well-wishers would surely admonish you not to limit yourself to dreaming of having just 500 followers – sky’s the limit! Dream of having 500,000!
And maybe you DO dream big. Maybe you fantasize about growing your business to a multi-million-dollar corporation with thousands of employees that you can leave as your legacy. Maybe you envision having offices all over the world, jetting between them on your private Concord. Maybe you long for the day when your brand becomes the next Facebook, Coca-Cola, or Apple.
And maybe that works for you.
But sometimes – for some of us – it makes sense to “dream small”.
The thing is, the life you want may not require massive, unparalleled, CRAZY success. You might not need hundreds of thousands of customers to gain the lifestyle you idealize.
Me? Sure, I’d love to be a millionaire…but I have no interest in building up a global company around what I do, or even a mid-sized national brand. That represents way too many external forces to contend with, too much stress, too much at stake. I would love to develop a business that stays small because I WANT it to, that can still support me and my family without getting out of control and taking over our lives.
So I dream small. And you know what? I’m happy with that.
There are some folks out there – people pursuing their own (big) dreams, motivational speakers, what have you – who would look down on this kind of dream as inferior. Stupid. Not a dream at all.
But I don’t care. They can follow their own dreams. I need to follow mine.
So consider dreaming small if that’s what your heart desires. The key is to aim for the kind of life YOU actually want.
The thing that got me thinking about this topic was a TED talk by Amanda Palmer, a singer and performance artist. Although her speech doesn’t really have to do with dreaming (big or small), it’s packed with a ton of topics that are near and dear to my heart:
- How musicians work as human connectors, bringing people together in shared experiences
- Trusting your audience and allowing yourself to be vulnerable
- Leveraging the latest technology to connect with your people
- The inherent value of art
She speaks profoundly and passionately about her drive to connect with other people on a very personal, human level. The reason it got me thinking about dreaming small is that she mentions that her former record label deemed her band’s album a failure for selling “only” 25,000 copies when it came out.
After separating from the label, Amanda started pursuing alternate models and ended up crowdsourcing her band’s next album on KickStarter. Their record-breaking campaign brought in $1.2 MILLION. You know how many people donated? About 25,000.
Yep – the same number of people their record label categorized as a failure helped the band’s next project succeed beyond their wildest dreams. (How’s that for sticking it to the man?)
And that’s the amazing thing – they didn’t need THOUSANDS of fans or MILLIONS of customers to support their work or make the band a success. They just needed a small group of devoted, passionate followers. (I know 25,000 may sound like a lot to some of us just starting out, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a really small number of people.)
The band has achieved their success, they love their fans, their fans love them, and they get to continue creating their work while connecting with their audience in a personal, intimate way that just wouldn’t happen if they had millions of people following them.
Check out her talk – I promise, it’s well worth it! And then ask yourself – what is YOUR dream? Not “what should my dream be based on what everyone else thinks it should be” – but rather, what do YOU want it to be? What would make YOU happy? Because THAT’S what you need to pursue.
One last thing – in this moment, you know what would make ME happy? If you’d share your dream, or any other thoughts, in the comments below!