As a founder, one of the most important things you can do is understand your “big game.”
It’s your compass. Your “why.” The thing you want to be known for.
In his book, Key Person of Influence, Daniel Priestley shares:
Bill Gates said Microsoft’s big game was "to put a personal computer in every home and on every desk in the world." Ray Kroc said that McDonalds’ big game was that "if Man goes to the moon, we will go there too, open a restaurant, and serve him a great burger at a great price." And Oprah Winfrey said her big game was to "share a daily dose of inspiration with women all over the world."
While you might not fancy yourself the next Bill Gates, Ray Kroc, or Oprah Winfrey, the point is that defining your big game will make sure that every move you make is intentional and purpose-driven.
Here’s why, in our humble opinion, you need one, and how to define your own.
It Helps You Get Laser-Focused
When you're starting and running a business, you get pulled in different directions and end up scattered and unfocused.
But by defining your big game, it gets easier to shut things down if they don't fit with your long-term goals.
What do we mean?
Imagine if Microsoft’s founders set out to make computers. But along the way, they also saw an opportunity to make money by creating lightbulbs. By dividing their focus, would they have ever been able to achieve the revolutionary success they did with computers?
That might be a dumb example, but you know what we mean.
Staying laser-focused helps you dial in on what you want to achieve and hyper-focus your efforts accordingly.
What’s this look like for you?
Let's say you're starting a web design business and you want to provide cost-effective web design solutions for sustainable businesses that make a positive impact on the world. It's a passion of yours and something that you feel truly matters.
That, in itself, would give you a niche and an edge over your competitors. You’d be able to specialize and focus on finding the clients you want to work with. And, most importantly, you'd find fulfillment in your work every single day.
In the early days, you might be tempted to take on any and every project that comes your way.
After all, it’ll put a few bucks in your pocket.
But over time, you’ll probably find you’ve deviated so far from where you started that your specialization is nowhere to be found.
Not only does that mean you’re now a generalist, but it also means that your work is a world away from the passion you initially set out to pursue.
By understanding your big game, you can stay laser-focused on what you want to achieve and strive towards it accordingly.
You’ll Never Lose Your Direction
How many hats do you wear on a daily basis? Probably a whole bunch (maybe even a fedora, if that's your thing).
As a founder, you oversee a million and one details every single day. And that makes it easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of the big picture.
Understanding your big game helps you make better decisions about where to focus your time and energy without getting stuck in the quicksand of detail inundation.
That way, every move you make will be strategically geared toward your ultimate goal.
Nothing will ever be done without purpose, and you’ll never (well, less frequently) waste your time on something that doesn’t matter.
Inspiration Will Be On Tap
Being a founder is no easy task.
It gets stressful. It gets hard. And some days you’ll want to just quit, get a day job, and forego the rollercoaster ride you’re on in exchange for something safer.
But we all know you don’t want to do that. It’s not who you are.
Instead, you need to be able to draw inspiration from within. When the proverbial doo-doo hits the fan, you’ll need to rely on yourself to keep marching forward.
Having a clear mission is like the fountain of youth for your pool of inspiration. Knowing that what you’re doing is important, has the potential to make a difference, or simply aligns with what you want in life is like having inspiration on tap.
*PS: even a day job will be a nightmare if you don’t have a big game for it—we’re purpose-driven creatures*
Other People Will Buy Into Your Big Game
Got employees? If so, your big game is what they’re going to rally behind.
Don’t have employees? That’s fine. Your big game is what your customers will really buy from you when they could go to the competition.
When you define your big game, your stakeholders become part of your community. And that’s when things really start to take off.
In a company-wide email on Microsoft’s organization's 40th anniversary, Bill Gates took the opportunity to not only deliver a history lesson but also to share a reminder of what the company began fighting for—and continues to fight for until this day.
"Early on, Paul Allen and I set the goal of a computer on every desk and in every home. It was a bold idea, and a lot of people thought we were out of our minds to imagine it was possible. It is amazing to think about how far computing has come since then, and we can all be proud of the role Microsoft played in that revolution … I hope you will think about what you can do to make the power of technology accessible to everyone, to connect people to each other, and make personal computing available everywhere."
Whatever your aspirations as a founder—to be a solo pro or to build a global business—your big game will guide you as much down the line as it does in the early days.
Your Big Game is Recruitment Gold
Whether you’re a team of one looking for your first contractor or a growing business looking to take on three new employees, your big game will help you attract like-minded people to your business.
This vision will help you find the right people—the ones who will invest themselves in the success of the business because its mission aligns with them as much as it does with you.
And when you’re trying to grow your business, having the right people onboard is your golden ticket.
Examples of Companies Defining Their Big Game
It's not just Microsoft. Check out the big games of some of the world’s biggest companies.
Amazon's mission is to be "the earth's most customer-centric company," and that focus has helped them become one of the largest retailers in the world.
Google wanted "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." That simple statement has guided them to become the dominant search engine and one of the most powerful companies on the planet.
Tesla’s goal right from the start was “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” They were saying it in 2003, they were saying it in 2013, and they’ll still be saying it in 2023.
And even small businesses can benefit from having a clear mission.
Sweetgreen, a chain of salad restaurants, has the mission of "connecting people to real food." That focus has helped them grow from a single location in 2007 to over 150 locations today.
5 Tips for Defining Your Big Game
There is no step-by-step guide here. Your big game needs to be personal, it needs to mean more to you than anything else on the planet.
It has to be what keeps you up at night, what you’re thinking about in the shower, and what makes you zone out when mingling at a party.
But there are some tips to help you dial it in…
1) Keep it simple: Your mission should be something you can explain in a few sentences (or even one).
2) Be specific: The more specific you are, the easier it will be to measure whether or not you're achieving your goals.
3) Aim high: As you’ve seen, the biggest companies in the world all have ambitious missions. You should too.
4) Make it meaningful: Your mission should be something that inspires you and drives you forward.
5) Keep it consistent: Even as your business grows and other opportunities arrive, let your big game light the way as a stable, consistent beacon.
Defining your big game isn’t easy, but it's worth the effort.
If you’re looking for a place where you can pursue your big game alongside other founders doing the same (see what we did there?) book a tour of Project Spaces today.
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