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Are You Going to Need a Bigger Boat for your Business?

by Richard Foulkes

“You’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat”

The line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Jaws has gone down as one of the most iconic quotes in movie history. Spoken by Chief Brody moments after the eponymous shark appears behind the vessel Orca, it’s been referenced countless times in film and television. The movie has also kept millions of people out of the sea ever since it first aired.

What does this have to do with business? Often in business, there is a moment (or more than one moment) where we need to get a bigger boat. We might be experiencing a period of rapid growth or have an opportunity open up that means we need to find a different way of doing business to cope with the growth or take advantage of the opportunity.

Has anyone in the room had a “we need a bigger boat” moment? Does anyone care to share how they realised it was happening?

Like Chief Brody, recognising your “bigger boat” moment is critical to avoid the business equivalent of getting eaten by a shark i.e.. being swallowed up by your business or missing the opportunity that has arisen. 

Getting A Bigger Boat

Chief Brody recognised his “bigger boat” moment and that he needed a different plan to deal with Jaws. In his case his plan was, in fact, to get a bigger boat.

If you recognise your “bigger boat” moment is happening, sit down and plan what your next “bigger boat” move needs to look like.

Again the key is to get away from or catch the shark and not get eaten by it.

When making your “bigger boat” plan, carefully consider the following:

1.If you pursue the opportunity with your current resources, how long is will it be sustainable and what are the intangible costs of doing so in terms of your values and personal life?

2. If you need additional resources, what are they and where would they come from? These could be any or all of the following:

• More capital. This could come from investors, shareholders, a loan, or new partners.
• Additional staff with the same or different skills. Are these available? •Do you have all the skills needed and if not, where can you get those skills from?

3.How long will the opportunity be available? Is the period of growth a boom or part of a cycle? If it is short term only, is it worth chasing? If the opportunity will be available for a while does it need to be pursued right now? 

4.How big is the opportunity and what is the cost of pursuing it to your existing business and personal life and what are you giving up if you don’t?

Once you have considered these options, make a conscious decision whether to chase the shark or not. Sometimes not chasing growth or an opportunity is a correct decision. If it is the right decision the next step would be to develop a full business plan, probably with the help of others like a business coach or other professional.


In BNI we sometimes hear members say over an extended period of time that they are very busy. Sometimes they feel they need to leave BNI because they are too busy and something has to give, even though they recognise that BNI adds value beyond just the referrals. 

This could be a sign they are experiencing their “bigger boat” moment and not recognising it OR if they do recognise it, the plan they have to cope with growth just isn’t working. 

This can come at a cost to them in their relationships, stress levels, health, customer service levels and finances. Sometimes a business can even “grow broke” as we have seen during the current property boom. If, on reflection, you need a “bigger boat” to not get eaten by the shark and you aren’t sure how to get one (maybe you don’t even have a lifeboat) talk to a trusted fellow BNI member or professional adviser who can help you get to get the boat of your dreams.

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