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Start Small finish Big

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“Start small, Finish Big” is the title of a book written by Fred Deluca, the co founder of ‘Subway’. Deluca definitely knows about starting small. He started what is now known as Subway in 1965 at the age of seventeen years with a $1000 investment given him by his father’s friend. Today Subway is the fifth largest international fast food franchiser after McDonald, KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King.


Without even looking too far, if we ask ten successful businesspeople within our own communities, at least two will have outstanding stories of how they started on shoestring budgets.


You see, all one needs is an idea and not even a novel idea. Look at most businesses around you, they are just copies of other businesses- perhaps done better, have more varieties/ranges; basically they present their products or services in their own unique way.


Subway’s idea of making sandwiches with fresh fillings was not new; it was modelled after an already existing type of sandwich shops. All they thought about was how their ‘sub’ sandwiches could be better.


Find a need, fill it and be careful not to analyse the idea to death with the ‘how’ questions


Before the advent of pure water, all we had was ‘cold ice water’ (never understood the need for the two adjectives). Most of the Nigerian population could not afford Swan Bottled Water and its kind so there was a gap to produce something that will catch the interest of hygiene conscious but low income earning populace and behold someone brought about Pure Water!


Since Pure Water came about fifteen years ago, it has been at the same price of five Naira, so to make more money from an existing concept, someone started producing affordable water dispenser refills – something which 10 years ago could only be found in big organisations. Today an average family has one.

Do you know that workplace and business coaching evolved from sport coaching? The pioneer was Timothy Gallwey a Harvard educationalist who wrote ‘The Inner Game of Tennis, The Inner Game of Skiing and ‘The Inner Game of Golf’ The word ‘inner’ was used to depict what Gallwey described as ‘the opponent within ones own head’ . He believed that the internal obstacles of a player are more daunting than the external ones and the role of a coach should be to help the player remove or reduce these internal obstacles to their performance.


Twenty years after Gallwey’s findings, John Whitmore and a few other Performance Consultants introduced coaching into business.  Today, these coaching principles and methods have evolved and have been adapted to meet the needs of the current business world.


Even as you start small, think like a visionary. Set long term goals- have a ‘big picture’. It’s so tempting and easy to focus on just starting and achieving the initial goals. I said in one of my earlier articles that goals are ‘a worthy destination’. Setting long term goals while starting small keeps you focused on your ultimate destination. If you can’t see the Big Picture, there is a real danger that you could lose focus and conviction and end up somewhere else.


So what have you got in your hand? Skill, knowledge, interest, ideas…how can you start small but with the mind set to finish big?


“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it” W.H Murray



Gbonju is a UK based certified Personal/Small Business Performance Coach, Human Resources Development Consultant and international speaker.  She qualifies through the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) and the Coaching Academy. For more information on how you or your organisation can benefit from her services, visit or email



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