Blog: Your Big Break

Summertime is a time for daydreaming, and who better to daydream than an entrepreneur, or would-be entrepreneur? After all, businesses are the stuff dreams are made of. People don’t start a business without a dream, but in my estimation, that is too often where the vision ends, even though it should probably be where it begins.

If you don’t dream big, if you don’t Think Big, your business very likely won’t get big. It is as simple as that. Big dreams set the table for big breaks.

Example: Steve was a 21-year-old kid who loved movies. The trouble was, he had no contacts at all in Hollywood. Although he tried to set up meetings and start his career, he had no luck whatsoever. Undeterred, one day, Steve sneaked onto a major studio’s back lot, walked into the office tower, and found an empty office. Call it what you will – brash, bold, chutzpah, whatever – but young Steve decided to make that empty office his own. He had a nameplate made, set up some files, and went to “work” there everyday.

No one ever said a thing.

Each day, Steve would call studio executives and talk to them about this sharp new kid they had on the lot. Each day he got rejected. Undeterred, Steve finally got a television producer interested enough to want to meet him. Steve met and impressed the man and was offered a chance to direct a half-hour episode of Night Gallery, which, two years later, led to a motion picture offer.

Summer would never be the same again after Steven Spielberg invented the summer blockbuster with that movie, Jaws, and ended up changing movie-making history in the process.

In my life, my big break came the day when, while unhappily slaving away in the big law firm, I received the following letter:

“Dear Mr. Strauss,

A while back, you wrote to us proposing a series of small legal guides for the layman. Have you done anything with that idea? We might be interested. Please call me at your earliest convenience.

Very truly yours,

 Starling Lawrence


Now, mind you that I had never had a single thing published at that point, but that had not stopped me from thinking and dreaming big and trying to get a book deal.

I had no idea who Starling Lawrence was, but with a name like that, he had to be important. I called him the next day and we ended up having a great chat and he turned out to be a wonderful man. Here I was, a thoroughly unpublished, second year lawyer and this big New York publisher was interested in having me write not one, but four books. That letter, and that daydream, changed my life.

So this summer, amid all of your to-do lists, your ever-burgeoning inbox, and family plans, let’s not forget to slow down, look at some big billowing clouds, and daydream a bit about what could be.

Because the evidence is, it is what can be.

Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is the senior small business columnist at USA TODAY, the Editor-in-Chief here at Small Business Connection, a speaker and spokesperson. He can be reached at

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