I’ve had the same conversation with a number of entrepreneurs recently.
In the context of a discussion about their possible funding needs, I have asked them what they would do with, say, $10 million.
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Invariably, at that moment, the conversation stops as the entrepreneur begins to ponder a question that they obviously haven’t given much thought to.
There is no doubt that for a small, growing business $10 million is a lot of money. It’s a lot of money for any business.
But the silence that my question invariably meets with suggests that most entrepreneurs tend to stop dreaming once their business has safely navigated the start-up stage.
There is no doubt that, had I asked these people that question as they were planning their launch, they would have been able to easily find a home for a lazy $10 million.
Extra sales staff. More advertising. Better IT systems. The shopping list would have gone on and on.
But once the business is up and running, it seems most entrepreneurs become focused on the day-to-day reality of their enterprise. In short, they become sensible.
Clearly, there is nothing wrong with that. Business is all about generating profitable growth, not merely spending bucket loads of other people’s money.
The biggest plans are all for naught if the business fails to survive. Sensible can certainly be underrated.
Moreover, sometimes, there simply is no profitable allocation that could be found for a new cash injection. In those cases, taking on extra funding is simply irresponsible.
Yet I wonder if the real problem is that most entrepreneurs end up becoming too sensible. I wonder if a touch more imagination and ambition would be what they need to really take their business forward.
Too many entrepreneurs, in my view, end up working in their business and fail to spend enough time working on their business – dreaming, pondering, wondering.
There is nothing more powerful in business than aggressive, ambitious imagination.
So, what if I was to ask you what you would do with a cheque for $10 million?
Do you have an answer?
What’s even more important than the answer itself is whether you have been thinking about the question.
If you haven’t, I strongly recommend you regularly put some time away to think about it.
You never know when I might call to ask you!