Business Goals – All Hat and No Cattle

In business your goal isn’t to get the big hat, but the cattle.

In Texas they do everything their own way; from BBQ to the clothes (or hats) they wear. They also talk a little funny and have funny sayings. One of the sayings they use is when they’re referring to someone who is a big talker or a pretender, they’ll say ‘He’s all hat and no cattle.’

In business we’ve seen people like that, too. Some people will talk about what they’ve done or what they’re doing, when in reality they may be just spinning their wheels. And while more often than not it’s innocent, the point is that our goal isn’t to get the big hat, but the cattle. So staying focused on your business plan and goals isn’t something you do, it’s everything! Going through the motions will get you no where fast, and expend your energy and motivation (yes, it’s in limited supply unless you happen to be Tony Robbins).

To help you in this regard you need to have a vision and a business goal in mind. You’ve heard it before but now you’re hearing it again: you can’t hit a target you can’t see. If someone blindfolded you, then handed you a bow and arrow and asked you to shoot a target with it, you would easily miss every time unless you got lucky. And no one, I hope, starts a business banking on luck.

So what do you need to do? Many people who run a home business (and even some small business owners I know) don’t have a business plan. That’s just silly. Unless your home business consists of stuffing envelopes you should have a business plan. Why? It’s like turning on the bright lights of your car- it gives you an opportunity to see much further ahead, to anticipate and react. Imagine if you’re standing somewhere and along comes a person who shoves you fairly hard. It would knock you down most likely, right? Now imagine that you knew the person was coming and was going to shove you; you would brace yourself and most likely not fall down. In business you need to be able to anticipate and expect things. If not, like many other people, when hardship comes you won’t be prepared and unfortunately that’s when many people fold.

So now you need to build a business plan, what to do? You can get a generic and simple business plan generator from the Small Business Administration, which you can find here at the SBA website. It will walk you through the essentials of a business plan, but what I want you to do is in addition to completing the sections that the template presents, you should write one or two pages of things which can threaten your business success, and what are some things which “could” happen that would significantly harm your chances of success. For example, if you were to catch the flu and be bed ridden for a week or two, would it crash your particular business? If the engine in your car broke down would it deplete your funds and potentially threaten your ability to continue some essential services? If you can’t manage to sell 30 widgets within 6 months are you washed up? These may sound like silly examples, but the exercise will force you too look at things many eager-eyed new home business owners don’t.

Do you recall the example of Stephen King, who when he submitted his first book (Carrie) he was rejected 30 times before he finally tossed the manuscript in the trash? And yes, it’s true that his wife had to dig the manuscript out and convince him to stay focused and true to his dream, but the whole point is that he kept submitting it 30 times! Many people would’ve tossed the thing long before that. But he was prepared; he knew that in his business rejection was part of the gig and so when rejection came he stood his ground and kept plugging away much longer than many other people would have. Remember the person who shoved you in the earlier example, and what a difference being prepared made?

Be honest with yourself in your business plan. No one has to see it but you. Place it in a folder and keep it handy. If you get a great idea about marketing add it to your goals and objectives section so you won’t lose track, and so you can expect to implement it in the future. A business plan should not be static, a set it and forget it item. By keeping the business plan close to you, and referring to it and revising it faithfully, you’ll find that the road you’re on isn’t nearly as frightening or unnerving. And, most importantly, it’ll lead you to the big prize… the cattle!