How to play big for your business

Are you playing big or playing small?   And what is the impact on your business?

Take a moment and reflect back on the last year and your business. Have you been playing big, all out, stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone or have you been playing small, at your normal level? Sure, you are putting in the long hours and working hard but are you really stretching yourself enough to get the changes and success in your business that you desire?

 What does playing big feel like?

Honestly – it’s scary.

It means stretching yourself to do things you haven’t tried before, it means picking up that phone and calling that newspaper editor, emailing that person you want to do a joint venture with – really, really putting yourself out there.

You may not realize it but subconsciously, we hate change. Our brain is programmed to keep us safe. We call this phenomenon ‘homeostasis’. The primitive part of our brain is always trying to prevent us from getting eaten or killed by some unknown predator or disaster. In these modern times, of course, there are no predators and the physical disasters are relatively few, yet our brain still strives to protect us.

So how does this play out now and in your life?  Does this sound familiar?  You are about to undertake an activity that rationally you know will grow your business but you feel resistance, you may procrastinate and somehow you run out of time, not getting the task done.  This is your brain protecting you from unforeseen disaster!

Peter Senge calls this Creative Tension in his book The Fifth Discipline. Creative Tension comes from knowing where we want to be – our ‘vision’ and also being realistic about where we are today. The gap between the two generates a natural tension. It is easier to stay firmly rooted where we are, even though we want the rewards of the vision.

So, when we feel this creative tension, how do we move through it and get closer to our vision and further away from our current reality?

Here are some ideas that have worked for me and my clients over the years:

1. Connect Deeply with Your Vision

You may know in your head where you want your business to be in three years but have you created a tangible artifact of this?

Have you written down your goals, your ideas?

Even better, have you created a vision board that not only captures what you want to achieve but also the emotions and energy of that accomplishment?

Getting your ideas and goals out of your head and onto paper in a tangible form that you can see and touch everyday brings the vision of your future closer and makes it more real. This starts to make the gap smaller between the future vision and where you are right now.

Once you have written your goals, created your vision board, look at it each day. Journal about it, tell people about it and give it some energy!

2. Chunk It Down

We most often feel that resistance or huge creative tension when we think what we are going after is too big or even impossible. Sometimes our 3 year vision or even our one year goal can seem daunting and more like climbing Mt Everest as opposed to a nice stroll through the park.

The easiest way to make the goal seem attainable is to break it down into small components. So imagine your goal was a cake – what are the 6 ingredients you need for a cake? In what order do you add them to the bowl? What goes in first, and what happens right at the end?

Think about your business like this….. if your goal is to make £100,000 and you are currently making £50,000, what are the key activities you must do to double your revenue?

Maybe the smaller steps could be something as follows:

  • Step 1: Analyse what £50,000 represent (no. of customers, products sold etc)
  • Step 2: Analyse where I find my biggest customers
  • Step 3: Raise my profile and promote myself here
  • Step 4: Consider if I can raise the revenue of my current customers
  • Step 5: Ask current clients what type of new products they would like, and create
  • Step 6: Advertise new products to my customers and potential ones found in Step 2
  • Step 7: Repeat

Of course depending on your goal, the steps will be different. But the key thing is to break down the big goal into smaller chunks. Then the stretch you have to take from your comfort zone is smaller (and therefore more comfortable) than doing it all in one go.

Be kind to yourself, make the stretch to playing big enjoyable! Success is the combination of all the small things you do everyday.

3. Face the Fear

Often our playing small and not living up to our true potential is fear driven. We make decisions and take action based on our fears not our true values.

Try facing up to your fears. You can do this by journalling. Take some quiet time and write down what are your deepest, darkest fears about this course of action and achieving your vision. What keeps you playing small?

The consider what are the worst things that could happen? And then what could you do if that were to happen?

This will lift the weight from your sub-conscious because when you know what the worst thing that could possibly happen is, it makes the fear manageable and containable. It removes the power! You will start to feel ‘so what if that happened’, you know you could do something to overcome it.

My favourite quote about playing big is below…..I hope it resonates with you.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” ~ Anais Nin



About the Author: Wendy Kerr is an expert in Corporate Crossovers – those women who have left corporate careers to start their own businesses. Her company, Business Momentum offers coaching, mentoring and resources to enable these women to thrive in their businesses and their lives. For more information, and your free guide on “Stepping Up to 100,000 – The Truth Behind a 6-Figure Business”, visit

Wendy Kerr

Director for The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Auckland University.The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is the hub for the development and promotion of innovation, commercialisation and entrepreneurial activities within the University.We create experiential programmes, workshops and events to unleash the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, to transform the mindsets of our students and staff to support the growth of New Zealand as a prosperous and creative nation.

Be the change that you want to see. Step into your leadership.




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