Stop Thinking Big, and Just Think, Period.

It is true that entrepreneurship requires big thinking. But today, its easier than ever to put the cart before the horse and begin thinking big before actually thinking, period.


About six months into my career as an attorney, the managing partner called me into his office to question my billable hours. I was barely meeting the minimum, and he wanted to know why. Through the course of our conversation, it became clear what the problems was. I was only billing clients for the hours I was actually working on their cases, not for the time I was thinking about them.

At the time, I defined “working” as dictating or proofreading a brief, reading and analyzing testimony, conducting legal research, or questioning a witness in the courtroom. Not so, said the partner. “Our clients pay for you to think, not just do.”

The same can be said of the importance of thinking when it comes to your business. In business, it's important to manage your entrepreneurial energy, and one of the ways you can do that is by thinking exciting new ideas through carefully before using precious energy to pursue them.

It's important to think, and that includes thinking, period, before you start thinking big.

Let me unpack this a bit by sharing some of the things you miss out on if you don't stop and think, period, before you start thinking big.

Stop Thinking Big, and Just Think, Period.

As a mentor to many new Makers, one of the conversations I have frequently is how important it is to maintain a manageable product line. New entrepreneurs are often so excited to get started, and they are so full of wonderful ideas.

They have also been reading a lot about how they have to “think big.” For them, this often translates into “big product line,” and that often translates into wasted time, energy, and money.

It's not so great to have a big product line when you are wearing all the hats: Maker, Marketer, Seller, Customer Service Rep, Website Maintainer, Email Publisher, Blogger, etc.

The more manageable your products line is, the better off you are personally and the more sales you will make. In addition to things like thinking through a manageable product line, here are some other benefits of thinking, period, before you start thinking big.

  1. Thinking, period, prompts questions, and questions lead to answers.

    … And you need a lot of answers when you are starting a business. The more questions you have and ask (the “ask” part is important), the more information you arm yourself with before taking the entrepreneurial plunge. Asking questions will help you understand different points of view, and this allows you access to ideas and approaches that you would not otherwise have access to.

    The obvious danger here is that you'll get stuck in “analysis paralysis.” I do not advocate that. Don't spend forever asking questions before you get started, but be sure to ask enough questions to get you started on a solid track when you can see cash flow sooner rather than later.

    Think. Ask questions. Decide. Do. Err on the side of doing less than you think you can at the beginning.

    Just as it will cost you more money than you estimate to start your business, it will also cost you more energy and heartache than you think it will. Thinking, period, before doing will help minimize that pain.

  2. Thinking, period, helps you identify what you want your business to do for your life.

    This is critical. As you start your business, don't miss the key reason to have a business in the first place: so your business can serve your needs and desires and a person.

    Take a look at your life as you start your business (and at regular intervals as you grow), and make sure that the things you are doing and the opportunities you are enjoying as a result of your business complement your life and the lifestyle you want to lead.

    Would you rather make lip balm (or whatever) all day long and make a little bit of money? Or would you rather make lip balm one or two days a week and make more money? This is the difference between thinking, period, and launching a small product line, and thinking big and launching a line that you ultimately can make — but not sell.

  3. Thinking, period, helps you identify your “WHY”.

    Perhaps the most overlooked part of entrepreneurial success is knowing your why.

    For example, when I started the Indie Business Network, my why was the same as it is today: to be as available as possible to my children as I fulfilled my life mission of helping women maximize their potential through small business ownership. When the going gets tough, and it does get tough, I remember my why.

    When I don't feel like getting up in the morning, I get up anyway — not because I'm so excited to host another Connection Day or release another podcast, but because I get to be with my children at home and I get to inspire women to make money and define success on their own terms.

I know there's a lot of talk out there in the entrepreneurial world about how you should “go big or go home.” I get that. But I also think it's possible to go big without growing big. (I blogged about this over at

Whether you decide to think big or think small, or go big or go home, or go small or go wherever, it's important to think, period, first. Just think. Period.

If you don't, you'll miss out on the best ideas and you'll likely lose valuable energy, time and money, none of which you can ever get back again.


Do you agree that thinking is highly underrated? Do you think it's important to remind ourselves to think, period, before thinking big? I would love to know your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. And if this post is helpful you, please do share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.