Why You Don’t Need a Great Idea to Start Small and Grow Big

So today, I’m on page 2 (in the Introduction chapter) of Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money. And here’s my lesson for the day:

A lot of great things start small. You don’t need a great idea, what you need is a great deal of commitment.

You’ll remember from our last post how Dave came about the idea of the 80% behavior / 20% knowledge to truly mastering your money, and why behaviors and actions trump head knowledge on your road to financial mastery and building wealth.

So today (on pages 2 – 3 of the book), Dave talks about how he actually put that information to work for his own life’s work – teaching people about personal finance.

Dave had struggled with bankruptcy and he was gradually coming out of it. And he had stumbled on this new idea to combine behavior + information classes for people on the brink of bankruptcy. Basically, the classes will bring people together to teach them, and then closely follow up with them thereafter for support and community.

That way, students can learn what they need to know, and also be able to practice what they’ve learned through their daily behaviors.

Our lesson for today focuses on the back story behind how Dave started Financial Peace University (FPU) as it’s now known today.

The basic idea behind FPU is to use a half-teaching and half-support group to help people getting dangerously close to bankruptcy.

That’s it. Which if you think about it: Is not exactly a groundbreaking idea.

Which is a big lesson for us today.

A lot of people want to start businesses, but are holding themselves back with the excuse: “I’m still looking for my great idea.”

This is simply an excuse, and it tricks our brain into thinking a grand, novel, never-seen-before idea will jump from the sky, and then we’ll be able to build our idea into a business that sets us up for life… guaranteed.

Nothing could be farther from the truth: you’ll be surprised to know that no successful business ever starts this way.

For example, as you learn more about better personal finance, and you are looking into building a side hustle or generate extra streams of income, you’ll need to start something. Maybe:

  • Start a website design & development business
  • Start tutoring others
  • Start driving for Uber Eats
  • Start a podcast
  • Start a YouTube channel
  • Start selling on Amazon

Whatever ‘small’ idea you may have now, I can guarantee you:

You’ll learn more from pursuing that idea for 3-6 months and see where it takes you…

… more than NOT starting anything because you think your idea is not big enough, or great enough, or special enough, or lucrative enough, or [insert anything] enough.

Look at Dave: On day one, he had a hundred chairs, four people showed up, three people paid for the class. Maybe he was discouraged, maybe he wasn’t. It doesn’t matter, because next week he showed up with those chairs and taught people. And the week after that. And the week after that…

The more he thought, the more he got more clarity on what people needed.

Soon, his perspectives on the idea changed and the curriculum also changed.

Soon, he added more classes and more nights a week.

Soon, he changed the name of the program/school.

Soon, he started putting lessons on video. And today over one million families have gone through that program.

For a moment, think about how fulfilling and impactful that is. To be able to help millions of homes by showing up every day and putting in the work.

And everything: starting with this basic idea of teaching and supporting people so they don’t go bankrupt.

As you look to impact people or start a new stream of income: start right now, start where you are, and, most importantly, smart small.


A lot of great things start small. You don’t need a great idea, what you need is a great deal of commitment.

For all the millions of radio listeners, YouTube subscribers, book readers, website visitors, and mind-blowing recommendations for Dave from all over America and the world, it almost sounds ridiculous to think that he started with three people showing up to a financial seminar when he was expecting 100 people or more.

My friend, once you start, you’ll notice how the challenges come at you from all angles – fears, doubts, false starts, discouragement (even from loved ones), frustrations…

… expect all of these to happen.

If you would stay committed to your goal though, and refine your processes as you go on, you will surely thank yourself for not giving up on your small baby = small idea, when it was the ‘easy’ thing to do.

That’s all for today, my friend. We’ll be continuing on Page 3 of the book tomorrow.

See you then.


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