In 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to reach an ambitious goal: land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the decade. Although many believed the mission could not be achieved, Kennedy succeeded in changing the narrative. Instead of dismissing the idea, scientists accepted the challenge and met the deadline. The vision–the big idea–set other ideas in motion.

Businessweek reports as small businesses around the country plan for 2011, many are focused on simply surviving.

What’s lost is the big idea. Your business needs a moon shot goal that will fuel its journey for the next decade and inspire your employees, your partners, and you. In my work, I hear plenty of small goals for the next year–but few moon shots. “We hope to avoid layoffs” is not a moon shot.

1. A big idea is bold. Great visions inspire.

2. A big idea is specific. Kennedy set a deadline to reach the moon, which contributed a lot to its success.

3. A big idea is consistent. A big idea that’s not communicated consistently stands little chance of sparking action in others.

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