Q: Why is it important to pursue big business ideas?
A: One of the things I stress with my students every year, whether entrepreneurial business opportunities or just business opportunities that are structured within a large corporation like 3M or General Mills, is that they need to think about business opportunities.
The ideas have to be big enough to matter. It frankly doesn’t matter if it is a really cool or interesting idea, if it doesn’t pencil out.
By penciling out I mean asking yourself, will it make enough increase in sales to matter to the organization or will it make enough profit increase to matter to the organization?
That ultimately must matter if your organization is going to spend time, money and effort on the idea.
If you have smaller, safe ideas, I think they are worth pursuing but you need to be realistic in what it will achieve.
Oftentimes entrepreneurs are driven by having businesses that they can either ultimately build into a big business for their family or for their own satisfaction.
They want to spin the business off and sell it to a larger company.
We see this often, particularly in the consumer product goods space.
If you have an expectation that your ultimate goal is to sell this off and to do something important or scalable with it, then I think it matters whether or not you pursue this goal.
If you want something that is for you and your family, I think that could be a beautiful thing as well, but your expectations need to be aligned with what your business is.
One of the things I stress all the time is that I don’t know that we can point to any successful businessperson and look back at their history and say their goal was to get rich.
Their goal was always to do something big and important. It is way more important to do something you believe in.
Whether you are an entrepreneur in business or not, develop a network of people you can call on to give you sound and sage advice.
Look for people who are not beholden to you. It’s critically important in life to have people who can give you the straight truth.
Craig Herkert is an executive fellow at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.