Wilderness survival; business survival
Greetings from the mountains, where I started drafting this month's newsletter while sitting next to the campfire. 🔥🏔️🏕️
Fall officially arrived this month, and the changing seasons were especially apparent at altitude—sunshine one moment, and pea-sized hail with thunder and lightning the next.
The changing seasons always provide a good reminder for me on the importance of paying attention to the current moment and evaluating next steps based on what's going on right now—outdoors, because conditions can change so quickly, but in indoors life, too.
Fall seems like the perfect time to check in on goals for the year to see what's been accomplished, what's still in progress, and what may need to be reevaluated and updated. During time away from my computer, I was able to reflect on this.
When I was getting my business started, I set specific goals for hours worked each week. I would fill that time with as much client work as I had, and any remaining time would be spent on development: networking, building project proposals, bidding on jobs, and creating processes for my business.
I adhered strictly to these goals and overall I think they worked decently to get things up and running. As my queue of work built up, I retired these weekly hours-worked goals. However, I failed to replace them with a new, relevant goal for going forward.
This left the echo of a goal, like a crumpled up leaf clinging to a branch after the first snowfall. The goal doesn't serve me anymore, but I still remember it sitting there. And as a result, I've associated weeks under that hours-worked goal with "poor performance" and weeks above that with "good performance."
This goal-turned-mindset makes it difficult to take time away from work...and more importantly, it fails to serve my business going forward the way an updated goal could. Right now, I'm thinking about what a better success metric would be so I can create a new goal to carry me into the future, instead of being burdened by one from the past.
Do you have experience or advice on setting a new goal after a season in life makes an old one obsolete? I'd love to hear it!
And if not, a different question—are you watching Alone? I've been binging it lately and am totally into analyzing similarities between wilderness survival and business survival...more on that
On the survival show Alone, 10 people film themselves as they survive alone in the wilderness for as long as possible with limited equipment and usually harsh conditions. The show gives a lot of food for thought about goals, focus, skill, balance, and adaptability.
Oversimplifying a bit here, but for survival, there are really "just" two priorities:
- Get food
- Build shelter
It's rare to see someone on the show with too much food, but "too much" shelter can be detrimental because it takes a lot of energy to build, and sometimes that energy can't be recovered.
This wilderness survival balancing act got me thinking about the process of starting a business, which is also a test of survival. The business survives when it has enough work to not only cover its expenses, but turn a profit and grow.
The work is like food in wilderness survival: without it, the business might be able to coast on the founder's savings or startup funding for a while, but eventually it will burn through that, eat itself, and collapse.
Business development (everything from registrations, to bookkeeping, branding, advertising...) is sort of like the shelter of the business. Without those things, it can be difficult—or impossible—to maintain work and continue getting more.
INTERVIEWS WITH BUSINESS SURVIVAL WISDOM:
PHOTOGRAPHER & OWNER OF GUD TIMES STUDIO & EVENT SPACE
Everyone has million dollar ideas. But very few people actually act on them. I don’t share my ideas unless I’m physically working on getting them out there. Because no one cares what you are GOING to do. They care about what you are doing.