There’s a stigma in certain entrepreneur circles about being the big fish in a small pond. The consensus in those circles is that small ponds are for small business, and that if you want to be “successful”, you need to swim with the sharks in the ocean.
Well, if you’ve ever watched Shark Week, you know that swimming with sharks isn’t always the best idea.
The ocean is where big corporations and big investments swim. Where new businesses risk being drowned or eaten alive.
The ocean is unpredictable. The ocean has 60-foot whales and no dry ground in sight.
In ponds, on the other hand, opportunity is available for everyone. A pond is where a new business can be known, trusted, and loved. Where small startups can thrive and grow.
My proposal to you is this: Instead of attempting to dominate the shark-infested ocean from day one, chasing waves and going all or nothing—start small. Own the pond.
It’s not about big business versus small business. It’s about narrowing your focus versus being broad.
Be the best in the pond, and then another pond, and then another pond, until one day you combine your ponds into an ocean. Or don’t.
Most businesses you know as giants of industry today, started out owning their ponds. Amazon was just an online book store. Facebook was for college students only. Vayner Media only did organic social media marketing.
After owning their pond, they expanded.
Owning the pond means being the best in your niche. It means being the “go-to” option for whatever the problem is that you solve.
Are there challenges in the pond? Definitely. Can you navigate those challenges and grow your company through them? Absolutely.
A lot of entrepreneurs are eagerly pressing forward with their sights set on one thing: growth. While growth itself can be a very good thing, the typical “growth-at-all-costs” mentality can wreak havoc on a new business hoping to stand the test of time.
For most people, the “go big or go home” mentality isn’t an instinct as much as it is a pressure from outsiders. An ego-driven approach.
Small doesn’t mean low revenue. Small doesn’t mean unimportant. Starting small doesn’t mean forever small (although you might be surprised at how much you enjoy the freedom).
Embrace the advantages of starting small, own your pond, and serve your customers well.
If you want to expand later, cool; if not, cool.
If you want to ignore this advice, cool.
Shut out the noise, and do your thing.