How big are the challenges you are taking on? Are you dreaming big or going after the easy stuff? Are you looking to tackle big problems or sitting back in your comfort zone?
Today’s inspiration comes from Tina Seelig’s What I Wish I Knew When I was 20 where she quotes Larry Page, co-founder of Google telling people to have a “healthy disregard for the impossible.” Clearly, the most successful entrepreneurs are those who solve the biggest problems. If you are going to expend energy in problem solving, think to yourself “what’s the biggest possible impact I can make with this project.” Why cleanup garbage in your backyard when you can contact a local news team and organize a town wide garbage cleanup and become a community hero? This type of big picture thinking is what separates heroes from zeros. (Editors note: one of our favorite pickup lines is “drop that zero and get with a hero!”) (It’s an Under30CEO instant classic.)
Google took on a serious problem and made it their mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Had they taken on a smaller problem, or made it sound less grand, their success wouldn’t be so grand. Now you are probably thinking–that’s great, but I might as well solve world hunger while I’m at it, but big problems don’t have to be altruistic.
Big problems are scalable
So you cut down trees for a living–you solve a problem. People have trees they want removed and you take care of them. Now think–how can I create a business system that solves this problem for everyone in my town. Soon enough, your trucks are everywhere, your name is plastered on every stump in the county and your chainsaws seem to sing “Joe’s Tree Service.” Why remove one tree when you could clearcut an entire forest?
Even the smallest of problems are grand if you figure out how to solve them on a large scale. Reach millions of people with a small problem and your impact is monumental. Take any As Seen on TV product–nobody really has a problem using traditional kitchen utensils–but if you talked to the late Billy Mays, he would have you convinced you had a serious problem and needed a Grater Plater, the Bacon Magic Wave, or the Slider Station.
Your problem is only as big as you make it sound
Not only do you need to train your mind to look for big problems, but you need to practice making yourself look like that Knight in Shining Armor. Nobody likes the guy who hogs the limelight, but having a knack for self promotion isn’t such a bad thing. Your problem is only as big as you make it sound. The key here is unless you tell people how big the problem is–nobody will care. There is no room for unsung heroes in the big leagues.
Think about problems you want to solve–whether they are on campus, in your community, within a Fortune 500 or with a product or service–how can you get the most press, the highest visibility, create the most buzz, and establish the most credibility for yourself.
The point here is not that you have to look to solve world hunger, but always be looking to bite off more than you can chew. It’s seldom pretty, but if you aren’t pushing yourself beyond what you think you can achieve, you aren’t growing fast enough. We all grow at the same relative pace; if you are looking to propell yourself past your peers you need to start getting uncomfortable. We all have the same 24 hours–what are you going to do with yours?
Category: Startup Advice