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Start Small: How to grow into achievements

Big things start out as little things. But 92% of people can’t handle that.

Last October, I started a little online gift shop.

It’s nothing earth-shattering. I found a few items from a supplier and listed them on the website. There are plenty of awesome tools to do that easily these days.

The biggest problem – as is with everything I do online – is getting eyeballs on the product. In the industry, it’s called “traffic”. And baby, without traffic, you don’t have a business online.

One of the faster ways of getting eyeballs on your product is by purchasing some advertising.

It’s a tried-and-true method of building your business, of course. But who has the budget to advertise?

As it turns out, me. See, even though I have a budget of, like, a few dollars, there’s a resource out there that can turn that few dollars into something.


You can buy Facebook ads to get in front of just about any demographic for a few bucks a day.

I started building my store with a $5/day budget. Within a month, I was generating a few hundred dollars in sales per day.

Once that $5/day started making money, I could turn some of that money around and put it into advertising. Five dollars became ten dollars became seventy dollars.

I was able to tweak the ads with my $5 budget until I hit on something that worked. Everything grew from there.

I wasn’t able to handle the growth, so I wound up shutting down all advertising before Christmas and retooling the whole store. Now, with a $10-15/day budget, I’m starting to get those first few sales again, which are going to build into much more than that as the days and weeks go on.

The importance of starting small

As you’ve probably read repeatedly, this is the time of year where everyone is setting big honking goals:

  • “THIS is the year I’m going to fit into that dress!”
  • “THIS is the year I write that book!”
  • “THIS is the year I make that money!”

And so on.

Problem is, obviously, most people aren’t going to achieve those goals.

One study sets the success rate of New Year’s resolutions at a depressingly-pathetic EIGHT PERCENT.

So 92% of people fail and give up on their goals. Why?

One reason, I think, is that they get impatient.

Look at any one of those goals mentioned above: losing weight, achieving a significant accomplishment, or making money.

These are all things that take time. The progress on any of these is sure to be slow-going.

When we make these goals, we think about the cartwheels we’re going to do when we’ve done it. We throw ourselves imaginary parades where new statues are dedicated in our honor for our life-changing abilities.

What we don’t think about is the slog. The work. The times when you’d rather jump out a window than work on that goal.

Weight loss means saying “no” to some of your favorite foods, putting in the time to cook more, and clearing out some gym time.

Writing a book means carving out writing time before or after work. Maybe getting up an hour earlier every day. It means struggling over how to express your thoughts, and spending hours on prose that you’re going to throw out anyway.

Making money could mean putting in overtime at work, or investing some time and money into a side business.

When you’re at the depths of these goals – when it feels like all you’re doing is sacrificing for no results – you often quit.

Unfortunately, when you feel like you’re going to quit, you’re probably SO STINKING CLOSE to success!

So how do you weather that storm? You celebrate those small victories.

How to start small

Just like investing a few bucks a day in Facebook ads can lead to bigger things, investing just a few minutes into a goal can build momentum in your achievement.

First, break it down. Figure out the smallest possible way you can make progress toward your goal. Even if it’s just one less snack per day or something. Make it easy, make it measurable, and make it progress. Let yourself build some momentum.

Then, celebrate those small victories. I don’t mean baking yourself a cake every time you turn away a snack. But let yourself feel good about what you’re doing! Any progress – even what it perceived as “minor” – is a step in the right direction!

Finally, let it build momentum. Give it time. Businesses aren’t built overnight, despite what the media would have you believe. Bodies aren’t transformed overnight without expensive surgery. Books aren’t written in a day. You get the idea.

When I feel frustrated about the time it’s taking to get after a goal, I watch this YouTube video by wildly successful entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. Regardless of your goal, this should give you a kick in the pants – and restore your patience:

Notice how he said you won’t find any video of him online from before he was 30 years old? He was putting in the work.

He was going through the slog. He was sacrificing and letting himself deal with it while it built momentum.

Gary Vee could retire right now and be just fine. He could collect his money, take his ball, and go home. For many people in his position, they would.

But he didn’t get there by luck. He didn’t get there by accident.

Instead, he put in the work when it was small. He gave it time. He let it build.

Let your momentum build. Take the small victories and grow with them. Don’t sprint out of the gate and quit the second you don’t see the results you’re looking for.

You’re building long-term success here. That means the progress has to be long-term, too. So take your time. Enjoy the process. Push through the slog.

Only then will you be able to achieve the long-lasting success that you’ve always wanted.

Now get out there and start small.