“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
– Vincent Van Gogh
I caught up with one of my oldest and dearest friends a couple of days ago. She reminded me of some of the business ideas I’ve had over the years. I must say, I’ve had some really good ideas, even some that others have brought to market and gone on to be hugely successful with. I never implemented any of my ideas because I wanted everything to be perfect right out of the gate. Now that I’m older and wiser, I know that it doesn’t have to start that way.
The most important thing to do to reach your goals is to just get started with little things. The Universe will bring you the people and resources you need at the right time, until eventually your vision will materialize just the way you imagined it before you began.
Whether you’re dreaming of owning your own bakery, getting your high school diploma, releasing those extra pounds, making it in Hollywood or world domination, you will get there by taking small steps, and believing in yourself. There will frustration and disappointment along the way, but there will also be people and resources to smooth your path and make the journey worthwhile. But don’t take my word for it, here are some examples of people who started small and kept going until they became who they are today.
Like many tech companies, founders Steve Wozniack and Steve Jobs got their start in Wozniack’s garage. They had an idea to create a personal computer. They started out by getting a local electronics shop to buy a few pieces. Both penniless at the time, they bought parts to fill the small order on credit, and that was the start of Apple. Today, Apple ranks #5 on the Fortune 500 list, has 115,000 employees, 453 retail stores in 16 countries, and had an annual revenue of over $233 billion last year.
Walt Disney built his first studio in his garage. He started out creating cartoons on screen which eventually led to animation, and then to filming the Alice Comedies which were part of the original Alice’s Wonderland. Today, Disney is an entertainment empire, and the highest-grossing media conglomerate in the world.
Stay-at-home mom and founder Julie Aigner-Clark started out in her basement with an idea to expose her kids to something other than a purple dinosaur. Eventually her product line expanded to include various book series and videos to teach children about music, art, poetry and language. Today, Baby Einstein is a recognizable, go-to brand for children’s toys and learning tools. Clark grew her small business to a multi-million dollar company, and eventually sold it to Walt Disney Corporation.
At 36 years old, Julia Child moved to Paris with her husband and didn’t really know much about decadent food or cooking for that matter. Fascinated by French cuisine, she enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu to learn how to cook. By the time she was 50, she was enjoying success with her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her television programs – The French Chef, Julia Child & Company and Dinner at Julia’s were also wildly successful.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen started in a garage too. Microsoft went on to become one of the most profitable and powerful companies in the world, dominating the personal computing market.
Yankee Candle Company
Founder Michael Kittredge created his first scented candle from some melted crayons in his garage because he couldn’t afford to buy a gift for his mother. Neighbors became interested and started buying his candles, motivating the high school student to start a business with two of his friends and begin mass production of his product. Eventually, Kittredge sold the company after a cancer scare, and today it’s the largest manufacturer of scented candles in the U.S., bringing in annual revenues of over $844 million.
William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson started out as small business that built engines for bicycles, then over the next two years, they built their first motor-bicycle in a friend’s 10′ x 15′ wooden shed. Eventually they developed the motorcycles that are synonymous with their brand, and today Harley-Davidson is a household name.
Many of Hollywood’s biggest names started out as extras or with side roles, often without billing in the film’s credits, but they persevered, kept taking small steps, and went on to become who they are today. In Less Than Zero, Brad Pitt was an extra billed as Partygoer / Preppie Guy at Fight. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were extras for the Fenway Park scenes in Field of Dreams. Marilyn Monroe was an extra in her first-ever screen appearance, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!
Whether it’s a garage, a basement, or the spark of an idea in your mind, every dream has humble beginnings. Take the first step on your journey. You might be surprised when you reach your destination and find Your Great Thing.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!