Think Small, Don’t Want To Be The Next Zuckerberg

I keep hearing people saying “I should invent something new and make a big business”. Everybody thinks of this at least once in their life. So did I. Then I started to realize that it doesn’t work this way. Sitting in a room and thinking for hours to invent the big business doesn’t work. However a few weeks ago I read an article that said the best ideas come in the shower. Then you have to think about the “big idea” in the shower, not in a room, right? No. I think the shower will not work either.

Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk. Just to mention a few of the big guys from the tech world who we admire and want to be as successful as they are. They are source of inspirations and they are our ideals. But why just these guys could make the big thing? #1 Because they have extraordinary talent, that others don’t have. #2 Because they can work (and love working) fucking hard as nobody else can. #3 Timing — they were at the right place at the right time.

You can say that #3 is a kind of a luck. I think it’s only partly true, because if you have the talent then you can even control being at the right place at the right time in a certain extent. But even if you say that #3 is pure luck, then what can you achieve without #1 and #2? Nothing.

There’s nothing wrong with having ideals like these guys. They inspire us a lot every day which makes us work harder. But chasing a dream of making a billion dollar business that they have achieved might not be a good idea. Because, let’s be honest, when we talk about inventing something new and making a business we usually think of a “big” business, a million or billion dollar business. The chance we can make it is very low. I would say winning a big amount of money on the lottery has a bigger chance.

The income

Thanks to the media entrepreneurship and startups got associated with big money. Very big money. But entrepreneurship is not just about making million and billion of dollars. I think if you could make a 5-6 figure (USD) income a year as an entrepreneur while you do what you love to do, you would be very happy, right? And achieving this income has a much bigger chance than making millions or even billions of dollars. It’s true that with the 5–6 figure income you will not be able to buy a yacht or a private jet, as some of the big entrepreneurs do, but I think you can still live a very happy life.

Do not try to invent something new

I’m sure it already happened to you that you had an awesome business idea and thought that you had just invented something new. Then you searched the net and it immediately turned out that it was not a new idea at all. It happened to me many times. Inventing something new in the tech world these days is pretty difficult. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but the chance is very low. Entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily have to be about new invention or a product that didn’t exist before. Instead of spending the time with trying to invent something new rather try a different approach.

Look around what software products, you, your friends and your co-workers use. Try to pick one that you think is not perfect but you couldn’t find a better one. If you selected this product, design and create a better one, that customers will love more. When I’m talking about software product it can be anything: a web app, a web service, a mobile app, a desktop app or even a javascript library.

Think small

Another important consideration is the effort you have to put in to create the product. In other words, don’t try to develop a better social network than Facebook. Think small. Select a product that you can develop in max 1 year, even in part time beside your current job.

Bottom line

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely understand if somebody has the enthusiasm to build a million dollar business. I just wanted to share my thoughts on another way of doing the business. These “one man show” small businesses (when you fund your business yourself) don’t get that much visibility as the big ones but it’s good know that this path also exists. I chose this path with my project Bookmark Ninja. If you think small, you will make less money (but enough money to be happy) but there is a bigger chance you will succeed.



  1. Big money comes with big responsibilities. I think if someone makes the big deal and big money, they wouldn’t know what to do with the additional work required to maintain this speed and volume. This would easily overwhelm anyone. And then burnout, scandals, drugs, sexual escapades, etc. happen, and all the fame you previously worked so hard for fades away.

    I think success (the long-lasting one) needs to build up slowly over the years. And ideas that help achieve success must be found out in an iterative process. Don’t do it like Zuckerberg – do it in your own pace, and don’t walk too far out of your comfort zone.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I agree Billion Dollar Business is “HEADACHE and LITIGATION” spelled backwards. I worked for one of the biggest website factories in the world before venturing out on my own as a freelancer. My mom keeps saying “You could be as big as X” and I’m like “WhY? OMG I don’t want to do that” lol

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Man, this is good advice! Thanks for making this point. I agree, if you start a small business there is a greater chance you will succeed. But also, you may even like it more than doing something huge! Not everyone would enjoy running a big tech company in Silicon Valley.. I imagine it’s all stress, making big decisions all the time, and sacrificing time spent with your family. No, thank you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Maria, I appreciate your comment! 🙂 Actually I just wanted to show that other than the 2 extremes – being an employee in the corporate and being a billion dollar startup entrepreneur – there are opportunities in between, that people don’t talk too much about. Looking forward to your next Tuesday’s post! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing. There’s definitely a fine line. More money, after a certain point, has exponential diminishing returns. Sometimes small incremental wins and successes are better, for some of us, than trying to copy some of the grand slams we see out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is great advice. I personally love the ideas of small businesses. Big businesses are cool because of the money the founders make but with small businesses the owners get to interact with the clientele and with their staff. Its more rewarding when you get to see the difference in client’s lives. But I’m definitely biased!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think everyone has big dreams. However, what’s big for one isn’t big for another. Humans are full of contradictions and while dreaming big we feel safer close to our comfort zones. The most important thing is to feel satisfied with what you’re doing and what you have. If you are not, expand to something bigger. Big dreams are achieved in tiny steps. One step at a time. Even Jobs had no grand plan in the beginning.
    And as you said: don’t spend too much time trying to invent something new – go for a different approach to something that already exists (like Amazon for example)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great post. I’ve recently thought more about that and realizing to start something start small. I’ve been trying to get into building more Web Applications but I always shoot for something huge as a product and finally narrowed down what I want to do to start. Including maybe using other products to first figure out the other choices and see what I like and don’t like and re-purpose aspects of it, just like what Apple has done with many products, take something that is out there, and refine it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wise words, thanks Jozsef. In a way, I think you’ve pretty much described the difference in mindsets between someone intent on creating an actual business that makes money (i.e. a small-medium sized enterprise) vs. someone stuck in the current start-up bubble, not bothered about cash flow but intent on becoming the next big thing. I’m with you on this one!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very good point, thanks for your comment, Liam. Yes, this is a “start-up bubble”, as you wrote. Most of today’s startups are about begging for money from investors instead of putting the hard work in it. I’m glad there are others, too, who think the same!


  9. However, what’s big for one isn’t big for another.
    And as you said: don’t spend too much time trying to invent something new – go for a different approach to something that already exists (like Amazon for example)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well. The way I understand it – You gotta have an apetite as big as any successful tech giant to become one. Most of us are only “inspired” and not “hungry”. We mistake one for the other. Nice post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Some people just want to enjoy not for the money. Do you know where is Netscape now. What they are doing not all 5 founders started new startup. Some of them are working as Engineer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is what I used to think four years ago. I always wanted to be the next Bill Gates, not for money, not for fame, but because I had passion towards computers. I always wanted to change the world in a day until I learned that it doesn’t work that way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have to set small goals and move forward with small steps. As I wrote it’s ok if somebody has the enthusiasm to do the big thing. Just wanted to show that there are other “smaller” opportunities as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hey Joz, thanks for following my blog. As a return, I did also follow your blog and bookmark you Bookmark Ninja. Do you have affiliate program? I will report this article and also will put your website linked to my blog. I saw your profile and I was surprise that you’re also a Software Engr. ; )

    More success and happiness!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi RJA, thank you for the repost and for adding the Bookmark Ninja link to your blog. I don’t have any affiliate program but if you like Bookmark Ninja (there is a 30-day free trial) I’m happy to give you a 1 year free subscription. 😉 Please let me know if you are interested. Thanks again! 🙂


  14. Reblogged this on Site Title and commented:
    Yes Nice Idea But What about Self-Innovation …All have an unique idea but these restriction make people to limit their Innovations and Drag around somebodies dream..

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nice one ,same happens with me ,i get new ideas every now and then and when i start to explore i come to know that already exists ,this makes me down sometimes,you mentioned nice points ,i will consider them

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jozsef, your blog is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

    You touched two interesting points to me:

    1) What is the thing about the successful entrepreneurs? You mentioned talent, hard work, and time. I want to supplement with “family establishment”, or in a broader term “family capital” along with “personal capital” and “social capital”. Successful families pass family capital to the next generations, they usually come in the form of personality influence, knowledge, assets, relationship etc. I believe it is crucial to success. Bill Gates’s mother was an IBM mid management, so she was able to support her kid. If placing Gates to another family, I don’t know what is the chance of having Microsoft today.

    2) Think small vs Think big? It is great to see you acknowledge the importance of thinking small, where I like to Think Tiny, by blogging something very small. There are multiple benefits. Everything big comes from something small, people should build on top of it through many iterations. It shows how detailed you are (detail orientation is a key success factor), it shows your passion, it creates influence and trust. Recently Elon Musk expressed he doesn’t like micro management, instead he does “nano management”. I kindof understand what he means, by focusing on very tiny things, it makes a difference at last.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Some people look at big ideas because they want to change the world, especially while they’re young. Young entrepreneurs should remember that impacting one person is still making a change! And of course, everything you said is valid as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You inspire me so much. I aspire to build apps to help the society. There’s generally a big misconception about programming that you have to learn a huge body of information before you start to code. This is absolutely wrong. The problem is people don’t start by thinking small. Your blogs are truly inspiring ; I get the the motivation of working harder.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I am also on the BookMarkNinja bandwagon.

    Not only do I love this tool (a long time dream of mine to build almost something exactly like this), but the road to it’s creation is inspiring as well.

    All the best Jozsef. I’m in your corner man!!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Not to be the clamoring dissension here, but I wouldn’t say the big businessmen necessarily had extraordinary talent. The real key is finding a need and fulfilling it. Facebook isn’t original. Myspace came first, but it was terrible, so Facebook was invented. Everyone had IE, but it terrible, and eventually, so was FF, so Chrome became top dog. Safari was never needed, that’s why people don’t care about it. Uber and AirBnB – nothing original in theory, but both fulfilling market needs, hence their popularity.
    But the best advice I’ve ever heard was “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Of course, you’ll still have to sell something, so don’t get too attached to things you produce. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Great thoughts!

    I personally believe that entrepreneurship is not always about inventing a new product, but most of the times it is just about thinking of new use cases or figuring out the problems with already existing products. (Facebook is just a modified version of MySpace)

    Liked by 1 person

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