The way to do really big things is to do really small things and grow them bigger

I just read this in a post about learning to be an entrepreneur:

Paul Graham promotes the view that it’s a bad idea to begin with big ambitions, because the bigger they are, the longer they are going to take to realize, and the longer you are projecting into the future, then the more likely you are going to be wrong. “The way to do really big things,” he says, “is to do really small things, and grow them bigger.”

This important advice is often difficult to get across because it can sound unambitious, but that misses the point. The safest way to get big is to build momentum by getting early scores on the doors. Success begets success and the business model gets validated with less time and money.


  • Part of the problem – perpetuated by VC’s and the media alike – is that the only opportunities worth pursuing are those that are billion dollar ideas at the outset, which is almost always a bad idea.

  • Big stories are the only stories that are interesting for big funds and for the media, so they are talking their own book. They’ve been doing it for so long now that they have come to really believe it.

  • Stories become stories after the fact. We start with an outline. They go for outlines that resemble big stories – it’s the only way they know to tell whether the outline has the potential to become a big story.