By Amanda Cleary Eastep
“Are you afraid to put your stake in the ground?”
Smack in the middle of my biz consultation, advisor Jackie Nagel of Synnovatia stopped me in my wandering tracks.
This was my second consultation with Jackie, and she quickly moved to the topic of strategic goal setting. (NOTE: A strategy is NOT the same thing as a task list you check stuff off of before binge watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.)
I was confused at first. Hadn’t I already “put my stake in the ground”?
In September, after three years of building my marketing writing and consulting business in the wee hours, I quit my full-time job.
But since then, I hadn’t set a hard and fast long-term goal. And I needed to strategically plan how to reach that goal.
Quitting my job had been a big leap. But really it was more akin to packing up the wagons and heading West. Since then, I had been:
…circling said wagons (i.e. completing client projects)
…surviving off the land (i.e. networking haphazardly)
…but not really staking my claim (i.e. strategically planning).
I imagined the last several months of hard work and “here’s hoping” like a scene from Bonanza:
“Thank ya, kind sir, for calling me out of the big blue yonder about your website project. Me and the youngin’s have been livin’ on rattler meat and rain water.”
Putting a stake in the ground means you have a strategy, at least a short-term one, and you start building your homestead on that.
My first short-term goal? Acquire two more “regular” clients by the end of April to help grow my business.
Sometimes you have to go back to the basics, so I filled out Jackie’s strategic goal worksheet and identified priorities and daily tasks to help me reach that goal.
Why do I share this tale? Because as a small business person, I know many of us are immersed in the roll-up-your-sleeves work of serving clients as we also carry out the roles of accountant, marketer, salesperson, coffee maker, etc.
We’re so busy trying to do it all that we lose sight of why we’re doing it in the first place.
As I sat in my living room with my coffee growing cold in my “Courage” mug and Jackie’s smiling face on the Skype screen, I heard her say, “You don’t want to be a wandering generality.”
I suddenly pictured a broken wagon wheel, tumbleweeds passing me by, and the last few drips of water falling from the canteen onto my parched lips. Yup, that’s what happens when you don’t put your stake in the ground, dang nab it.
You need to set strategic goals. And sometimes you need to seek a helping hand from a kindly neighbor who can help you succeed.
“The great majority of people are ‘wandering generalities’ rather than ‘meaningful specifics.’ The fact is that you can’t hit a target that you can’t see. If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. You have to have goals.” -Zig Ziglar