Starting a new business looks so different for each entrepreneur that any two experiences might share absolutely nothing in common. Imagine the advice a software start-up firm might need, for instance. Next, imagine what a local design-build contractor needs to know to launch.

Even the “why” behind starting a new business varies in a big way for each of us. Personally, I got into business to support my husband, who was already a business owner. I fell in love with business growth, however, and my “why” has changed completely over the last 20-plus years.

Whatever your “why” is, and whatever industry you’re in, I do have one piece of indispensable advice that I wish I’d known years before. My advice revolves around a mindset that opened a floodgate of ideas and resulted in 200% growth of our business in just a few years.

This is not a “secret sauce” tip you’ll see someone selling in an eBook or course, because ultimately hard work still drives your success. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to make a buck. Still, if you use this mindset as a lens to look at the world around you, you’ll stay excited about your new business longer and reduce growing pains as it takes off.

A “big business” mindset will support you from day one

It was a resounding “CLUNK” when this notion fell into place. Its decisive logic anchored me with total certainty, and everything else came into focus. I was less than a year into work with my new business coach and I was full of new ideas. Marketing was exciting to me again. I was looking at our finances more critically, too. As for staffing, the possibilities were endless and I was hungry to hire fast.

Those initiatives all had to be implemented, though, and in doing so I found myself creating processes that were quickly rendered useless as we continued to grow. That’s when I thought:

“We can’t think like a business of the size we are now; we have to think like a business of the size we plan to be.”

Even if more money would be spent investing in a new CRM, or our email automation would be unnecessarily elaborate for the dozen or so leads we otherwise could manually push through, I was finally on track to develop real systems that would support us long-term.

Systems are scalable. Problem solving is not.

The benefits of thinking bigger than you are

Below are some of the benefits of thinking like a bigger business (and making decisions based on where you’re going, not where you’re at).

You naturally shift to systems with more automations

For instance, instead of sending out that email campaign manually to every lead that went stale, or even scheduling the messages in Outlook, build a system of automated tags and emails in a CRM or email platform to put the system on autopilot.

You create SOPs proactively instead of reactively

Maybe the initial incident that gets you thinking, “oh man, I need a process for that” is reactive. If you build the resulting process for a business bigger than your own, however, then you’re ahead of what would have been a ladder of reactive updates to that process as you grow.

You develop big-mindset leadership within your team

If your staff sees you thinking big, they’ll warm up to the practice, too. You’ll attract talent from bigger organizations if they see big-time thinking at your business, too.

You’ll have an easier time meeting today’s shifting client expectations

Let’s go back to the email campaign example. If a client wants to adjust what messages she or he receives, a robust email automation system will give you effortless flexibility to meet that expectation. If you’re still sending emails manually, however, that same request would require making a note somewhere in your client files and then leaving the door wide open for human error as future messages are sent out.

You exceed client expectations in a memorable way

One of the taglines for our business is, “exceeding your expectations—every time.” We focus on exceeding expectations because we value excellence, but also as a reflection of how we think like a bigger business. Learn how we start our remodels with permit paperwork that’s on par with multi-billion-dollar construction companies, for example, to set that exceptional tone with our clients (and our local permits office).

You scale and keep up with demand seamlessly

You’ll lose no opportunities for new business if you’re able to scale without friction. If you already have the right systems in place, putting a greater load on them will be both simple and satisfying.

How to think like a bigger business

Here are some tips to start “thinking big” in your business:

  • Don’t expect big performance at the onset, just plan for big systems to support bigger business in the future. The business will come later. Get the systems in place now.
  • Connect with peers in other industries or markets whose businesses are much bigger than yours. Ask them about their processes given every opportunity.
  • Always consider how your processes will work when they roll out to new locations, new markets, or even new remote additions to your team. This keeps you ahead of your needs when you expand.
  • Roll new systems out in phases if you need to, but always with dates assigned for each stage. If you must roll out a robust system one step at a time, that’s OK. Just commit to dates for each of the following steps to build your bigger process out as soon as you can.

My own personal journey had a turning point almost a decade ago when I was diagnosed with cancer. Since recovering and reassessing literally everything I live or, I have looked at our business in terms of what I plan for it to be, not what it is in the moment. This future-facing perspective is my responsibility. As the CEO, I am the steward of our growth. The day-to-days have been handed off to new leaders within the company as we’ve grown and hired, and now I focus entirely around “thinking big.”

If you don’t already have an organizational chart for where you plan to be in three years, or five, or you have no idea what kind of revenue you plan to see next year or the year after that, start by asking yourself that now. Put all of it on paper, too.

Then, once you can picture the business you plan to grow into, start acting accordingly today.