When it comes to investing--in a business or in the market--smart businesspeople like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates know better than to focus too hard on the immediate past or the immediate future. They know that changes and trends can best be recognized if you take a step back and take a wider look over a longer time period. Of course, it doesn’t help that most businesses measure their performance in three-month cycles.

It takes effort to see the bigger picture, but doing so can help keep you motivated throughout the day-to-day struggles of owning a small business. While many investors may panic and sell when times get tough, or buy when an asset has already hit its peak, big-picture thinkers can tough out shifts in business volume, cash flow, or other challenges and work toward a brighter tomorrow. An optimistic viewpoint can help us see that big picture, especially when the present or immediate future seems bleak.