By Alyssa Gregory

12 Ways to Think “Big Picture” and Why You Should Bother

By Alyssa Gregory

big pictureThe everyday in-the-trenches part of working for yourself can not only be all-encompassing and constant, but it’s also necessary. After all, it’s these small incremental actions you take everyday that provide the value to your customers and essentially pay the bills.  Plus, many of us find that it’s difficult to set aside time for any activities that don’t directly result in income.

But despite the time challenge, there are several indirect business processes you should dedicate time to if you want to maximize your potential for growth. One is thinking about, analyzing and planning for the big picture.


Why Bother with the Big Picture

The big picture is simply the entirety of what you’re doing – your ultimate goal and how it relates to everything around it. I like to think of it as an aerial view of your business over a span of time, answering that age-old question: where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years? 20?

This certainly doesn’t diminish the importance of the details, but in order to get an accurate picture of where you are and where you’re going, you need to step back periodically and take a high-level look. This big-picture analysis can be helpful because it:

  • Gives you a chance to check-in on your goals
  • Assures you that what you’re investing in your business supports what you plan to accomplish
  • Helps you justify the time and energy you spend on overcoming challenges
  • Confirms that the in-the-trenches work is aligned with your business objectives

12 Ways to Get a Big-Picture View

If you’re not used to stepping back from the minutiae and taking a high-level look at your business, this can be a challenging exercise. As a detail-person myself, this is definitely a challenge for me. Here are a few ways that I’ve used to get started that might help you out as well.

  1. Write down what your typical day looks like and compare it to what you want it to be.
  2. Review statistics for your web site, marketing activities and lead management activities and look for opportunities for improvement.
  3. Get feedback from clients in term of your services, their perception of your company, and your future potential with them.
  4. Analyze your daily activities and where you spend your time in order to determine where you can delegate more.
  5. Ask a mentor or colleague to help you align your current activities with your long-term goals.
  6. Conduct a productivity check-in by reviewing your process for project and task management.
  7. Measure yourself against the competition so you can identify areas of improvement.
  8. Go back to your business startup stage and see how your business plan, marketing plan and overall objectives relate to where you are now (and update them to reflect the reality of now and where you want to go next).
  9. Assess the industry and changes that have occurred since the last time you looked at the big picture, and consider how it affects your business today.
  10. Brainstorm an on-the-side project that will indirectly support your business while giving you a new outlet to add some variety.
  11. Outline what you plan to do in terms of skill development in the short term.
  12. Write a BHAG and post it where you can see it everyday.

It’s this big-picture view that gives you the information you need to make sure you’re staying the course, even when you’re bogged down with the day-to-day. What do you do to look at the big picture? Do you find that it’s helpful?

Image credit: blackcat79

  • Anonymous

    This so very key and so often overlooked.

    It is so incredibly easy to get eaten alive with the busy work, and then drift off to nothing gets done land.

    Taking your eye off of the “Big Picture” leads to dread and doubt and all of the bad stuff.

    BHAG is the way to stay on fire about what you do too !

    Love the list of 12 too.


    Rick Falls

  • W2ttsy

    its also important to remember that the build it and they will come model is dangerous and can open you up to disaster. In thinking of the big picture, dont get too bogged down trying to facilitate all your goals in one push.

    google, facebook, youtube didnt have all the resources/functionality available in one hit, and neither should you.

    draw out a release schedule, use feedback from your site to determine which functionality is added, removed or culled from the production schedule. There is no point spending 3 months on a widget if customers aren’t going to use it.

  • Anonymous

    Yup, great ideas. Just look at how Michael Hansen, CEO of DubLi has taken all of these ideas and incorporated them into his company.

  • Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

Get the latest in Entrepreneur, once a week, for free.