For those that endeavor, the conventional wisdom is "go big or go home." Following this advice is precisely why so few enterprises ever get started or off the ground. Instead of "swinging for the fences" and then quitting when you "strike out," why not strategically "settle" for "base hits?" Why not go small?
It's so easy to "hide" in big dreams. Big plans too often lead to spinning cycles collecting dots and getting your ducks in a row. You don't need new tools or training. You need to put yourself on the hook and get going. To get where you want to be you need to start where you are and take the next smallest step into the possibility you're aiming for.
The SVS (Smallest Viable Step)
This idea comes from a chat I had with my friend, Marie Schacht. Sure, you need to have an end in mind, but when deciding what to do next, choose the next SVS (smallest viable step). Your next SVS is your best guess at the next best step that will propel you and your work the furthest and fastest toward your goal. Choose an SVS and take it.
An SVS not acted upon is not an SVS. It's a missed opportunity to fuel forward motion. An SVS approach is a habit that encourages action and progress. Take an SVS every day and pay attention to what happens next. Reflect, iterate, and then, step again.
Your SVA (Smallest Viable Audience)
As you step into possibility with your endeavor through a sequence of smallest viable steps, your SVA will begin to come into focus. An SVA is the smallest viable audience aware of and attracted to your work whose attention, permission, trust, enrollment, and investment you can earn through consistent and deliberate engagement.
SVA comes from the work of Seth Godin and his latest book, This Is Marketing (which is crafted from his online workshop, The Marketing Seminar). The idea is to identify a group of people you already know whose lives would be enhanced by colliding with you and your work and to empathetically and ethically engage with them.
Putting yourself "on the hook" to connect with a specific group that you consistently show up for, look in the eye, and serve, is the best way to gain clarity about who your work is for. It also helps refine what that work is, what it promises, and who you need to collaborate with.
Your SVO (Smallest Viable Offer)
An audience that is interested in your endeavor is great, but you'll need some in that audience to enroll and invest in your work in order to sustain it. Once you've identified an SVA, it's time to develop an SVO (smallest viable offer).
An SVA is not the product or service you've already built. It's the product or service you will build if there's enough interest and investment from your SVA. Don't write a book or a speech, don't build a course or community, don't buy equipment or a building. Instead, make a landing page with a "Buy Now" button that describes the small-but-valuable offer you'll make good on when you get what Seth Godin calls your "first ten." Ten paying customers.
An SVO is something you can create in a day or a weekend. An offer that solves a small problem or serves a small need of your SVA. When you get the requisite number of sign-ups, create a solution or event that not only helps those who opted in but delights them so thoroughly that they ask for more and tell their friends.
The Virtues of Small
Going small doesn't mean you lack vision or ambition. Going small is the posture of a professional who wishes to serve the "right" people with intention and integrity and cares enough to put in the time and effort to pay attention to their dreams and desires.
What small step are you taking today to serve a small group of people with a small offer that helps them get where they want to go?
Let's keep flying higher together!
BTW, if you found this approach helpful, you'd probably also appreciate these quick tips!
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This 3-minute read shares three questions. Answer them to get out of your own way and get going with the difference you seek to make.
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