It’s just as easy to think big and fail, as it is to think small and fail.
And it’s just as easy to think big and succeed, as it is to think small and succeed. Over the years I’ve found it much more rewarding to go for the big prize. The reason is that I’m likely to expend the same amount of energy going for the small prize as I would for the big one. And when I win, which one pays off better? The big one.
In 1999, I was a single mother of four sons trying to establish a new business in a new city. I was encouraged by a city councilwoman to go after a contract with the city government. Not having contracted with the city before, I was not aware that subcontractors like myself were expected to ask for only a small percentage of the work that the prime contractor had set aside for women or minority businesses. After reviewing the requirements of what was a very controversial project and determining that this one contract would quickly consume most of my billable hours that year, I bid the project at approximately 10 times what was the “traditional” amount that had been set aside. Not only did I get the contract, it was so high profile that over the course of the year, my company proved itself to be invaluable in saving the client money and producing a positive result. We established a new standard for public involvement and communications on city projects. That one bid launched a 10-year growth spurt for my company and helped us create a larger niche in our industry for other women and minority-owned businesses.
Just because someone else wants to limit you to single-digits doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself. As I was told early in my career, that number on the spreadsheet can be followed by as many zeroes as you can truly allow yourself. Small firms like mine had been accustomed to looking at a small percentage of the participation on a project, and I just looked at it in a larger context, based on the value I could bring to it and what I sensed was my own company’s worth. If they disagreed with my calculations, we could negotiate. Often the negotiation process resulted in the client wanting more of our company’s services than they asked for in the first place!
I’ve found that people like to work on big projects, or pursue bigger dreams, because those higher aspirations require us to tap into our deepest reserves. Our genius is called forth, and that larger and more inspiring goal becomes a motivational force for success. (Fear of failure also plays a part!)
Now my motto is simple:
Why fight over pie crumbs? Let’s just pull the ingredients together to bake a bigger pie so everyone can have a bigger slice.
To learn more about The Way Women Work’s Guest Contributor, Lynn Hinkle: