No secret… I walk a few times a week. I’ve walked in pretty-chilly temps and I’ve walked in weather where I begin pouring sweat as soon as I step out of the house – like walking through the sauna that is North Carolina in the summer. I don’t walk because I like freezing my butt off or sweating out two pounds of liquid in under an hour. In fact, if I could get the same benefits from not-walking, I would in a heartbeat, but the truth is, I can’t, and walking really does have a whole lot of benefits – psychological, holistically physical, emotional, and even spiritual.
When I start my walks, within the first quarter mile, I mentally plan my route and start thinking of the very end – that last quarter mile when I can start slowing it down, check my pulse, log in the time and calorie burn, and get more comfortable. I think about which route I’ll follow. It’s always the same four streets, but depending on how I walk them, it can be 2.5 miles or 2.8 miles. It may seem silly to think about finishing my walk before I have barely begun, but envisioning the end helps motivate me through every step and prevents me from taking short-cuts – skipping that little bit of .2 mile or not going down that short street.
Similarly, thinking about the end of a business venture from the outset helps a business owner work towards that goal, that completion, that teleos. As we celebrate 15 years of soapy business, I reflect back on those early days, and I did not have an end-game in sight. It wasn’t until several – SEVERAL! – years down the road that I began to think about things like having a brick-and-mortar store and passing my business down to my children. That particular route requires certain steps and a certain amount of time, just like when I opt for “route A” of my walking choices. Going the B&M route means striving to build up the revenue to sustain such a venture, taking into account overhead, staffing needs, retail traffic ebbs and flows, and so forth. Passing the business down to my daughters requires teaching them every aspect of the business, not just the technical aspects, but also the passion and the why.
Last year in the midst of the rebrand, the brick-and-mortar suddenly became less important to me, and the girls have no desire to run a soapmaking business, though they love making soap. They love the creativity and the design aspects, and the chemistry of it fascinates them, but that’s as far as their enthusiasm goes. So, it’s become time to work with another end-game in mind.
To be honest, I haven’t entirely worked that out, yet. Part of the rebrand involved an increased focus on wholesale and private label, though retail is still a very strong part of my business. At this point, though, I’d more love to have a separate work shop than a full-blown B&M. I’d enjoy the space separate from the house to make, wrap, and store my products. The completion of my business now would be having a strong business to sell off in – ideally – one huge chunk to someone who’d love and nurture it as I do. Again, this route requires a certain path, a certain set of steps, a particular journey to traverse.
Without the finish in sight, I could just meander along, making this product or that product, selling whenever, pushing for sales when I felt like it and ignoring my business when I didn’t. Similarly, when I walk for my health, having a defined time frame and route ensures I do at least as much as I need to, and it also restricts me from following whims that could take me on long treks – not that that would necessarily be a bad thing, but when the family is expecting me to be gone a certain amount of time, being gone for 2-3 times that would cause them to worry.
Goals are essential, but goals without a defined end are just nebulous scratchings on a dry-erase board, the result of moments or hours of brainstorming. As you set your goals, whether fitness, business, or lifestyle, determine to look at the end. It’s likely not the end, but it is an end, often that of a chapter before the next beginning.