I talk a lot about the nuts and bolts of starting or buying and running a small business. In my coaching and consulting business, my clients and I work together a lot on streamlining their systems to allow them more personal freedom and increased income. But there is much more to understand.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs have different mindsets. Many small business owners transitioned from being employed in a business similar to the one they now own – and in many ways they STILL see themselves as employees. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are more likely to start businesses from scratch, think big, plan for a sale of the business, or start multiple businesses at once. They work on their business looking for opportunities today and in the future.

The small business owner tends not to work on their business but rather they work in it and get very married to it. The downside is that when the economy gets tight the small business owners often end up in survival mode. For the entrepreneur, the down economy is just another opportunity waiting for them.

How can a small business owner change this mindset? Take some time to sit down and envision what you want your entire life to look like, to feel like and how your business fits in with that picture. Write it all down. The more details of this future you can tease out, the better. What does an average day look like in your future? How much money does your business need to make for you to move into thrive (vs. survive) mode? How would you spend that income? Or is it free time that most lures you? How do you feel in this world? Don’t spend much time on the “how” right now. Focus on the “what”.

When doing this, many people know, in their gut, what they want but their head gets in the way with practical thoughts. For this exercise, DON’T BE PRACTICAL AND DON’T BE AFRAID. Do you want your one lone bricks and mortar store to be the biggest selling franchise in the world? Write it down and don’t put an end date on when you want to achieve this. Be as impractical as possible. Do you want your business to run itself while you go deep-sea fishing for months out of the year? Write it down. For some business owners, just writing it down where they can see it is a big shift.

Try to spend some time each day just experiencing what that big dream would feel like. Most professional athletes like Tiger Woods spend time visualizing the perfect putt, the perfect pass, the perfect no-hitter. They work with coaches who walk them through this process. If it works for them, why not you?

What’s your big vision, the one you hesitate to share with anyone? Are you married to your small business, afraid of economic change? Start changing your survive mentality NOW. Think like an entrepreneur: BIG.


by Steven Schlagel