Make No Little Plans

For many years we’ve been pushing the idea to entrepreneurs that it’s the same amount of work to create a company that has a huge impact as it is to create a company that has a more modest impact. Impact can be defined as lives touched, jobs created, revenue generated, wealth created, or any other measure. Regardless, it requires working thousands of hours over 7-10 years to build anything successful, so it’s best to strive to make the biggest impact possible. This is even more so if the entrepreneur is going to raise money from investors and take on capital, adding pressure to create an out-sized return.

While the concept might be new to me in the last 10 years, it’s clearly been well understood historically in many different contexts. I was reminded of this recently seeing the famous Make No Little Plans on a historical sign:

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever growing insistency.

Daniel Burnham, Architect and Urban Planner

Human nature is to look at the ideas directly ahead. What problem do I have right now? What idea do I care most about? While these are the logical starting point, and should be encouraged, it’s important for entrepreneurs to step back and think big. If everything went stunningly well, what could this become? Does that meet my ambitions? While some ideas start small and become bigger than expected, most often, small ideas start small and stay small. During idea selection, take the time and energy to think more about what could be and ensure there’s the potential for greatness.

Make no little plans.

3 thoughts on “Make No Little Plans

  1. Although this is very true, large ideas have less chances of working out. So many times for first time entrepreneurs it’s best to do create something th

  2. Wonderfully said! So enjoy your posts and delightful thoughts continuously encouraging with meaningful insights. Thank you

  3. Hey David, I’m an ATL resident and a reader of your blog for 2-3 years. Your blog has been a great resource! I quit my full time job a few months ago to dive all in on a new venture. While revenue is slowly coming in, my gut keeps telling me that I’m in a red ocean and that if I’m going to spend so much energy into something, it ought to go bigger. So this blog was perfectly timed to add to that line of thought. If possible, I’d love to share my current project/status with you over coffee or the like. I could gather 3-4 other young entrepreneurs in the North Atl area to make it more worth your time as well. I’m happy to share with you any info if you’d like, and my personal email is If not no worries, and thank you for your continued content! It is much appreciated.

    *Current project at 1,337 users freemium model (

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