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Step by Step

One small step for you can mean giant leaps for your business.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the May 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Life's successes are incremental. Before Edison was hailed as a genius for inventing the light bulb, he discovered more than 1,000 wrong ways to make it. When most people start a business, they imagine landing that big deal that comes with guaranteed long-term income. In reality, hundreds of little transactions serve as the building blocks that make big accomplishments possible.

Success comes from achieving your goals and incorporating the many lessons you learn along the way. It's your job as a creative thinker to focus on the future while also reveling in winning the daily battles. In other words, celebrate the small victories.

Frequently set and reset your own success bar. Stay motivated by setting short-, medium- and long-term goals that you believe are achievable. The path to success is long and winding, so set up intervals when you can re-evaluate whether your course of action is producing the outcome you're seeking. Open your mind to alternative solutions by listening and learning from others. This type of interaction gives you the most enjoyment on your way to ultimate success.

View each step as a low-risk experiment. The result of any action or strategy you implement is unpredictable. As you do your daily work, remember that small deals, even ones that seem beneath your level of experience, may hold hidden surprises. Execute one small step, stay flexible and learn where to focus your attention next. Every little success contributes to the big picture. If your plans do go off course, don't get discouraged; make corrections so that damage is minimal. And to reduce your stress, don't overallocate time and resources to small problems that can be easily solved.

Keep your momentum flowing. In the musical Evita, there's a line that goes, "It's very difficult to keep momentum if it's you that you are following." As entrepreneurs, we have to learn how to keep our dreams alive and go forward with passion, no matter what challenges arise. Begin the process by taking one result-oriented step as speedily as possible. This simple action will build your confidence so you can climb even higher. Achieve some success every day, and you'll undoubtedly attract more of it.

Continually engage in activities that move you in a positive direction. Putting your company in the right place at the right time creates unforeseen possibilities. Choose two to three low-risk activities that could open up new opportunities for your business. Cultivate relationships with colleagues who share your values, beliefs and goals, and discuss new possibilities with them on a weekly basis. Referring clients to other businesses or volunteering for an organization whose membership includes your target market can provide additional sales avenues and help build word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

Successfully completing a number of small steps adds up to giant leaps for your business. Remember: Real progress occurs when you continually move forward instead of concentrating on how to achieve a gigantic result.

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