Tips for Entrepreneurs: A goal to reap the gravy

Your business should have a long-term goal. It should also have a short-term goal, and an intermediate goal.

Warren Buffet 390 (R) (photo credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)
Warren Buffet 390 (R)
(photo credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)
Billionaire Warren Buffet does not allow his companies to take any action unless the result of that action is profit. There’s no, “We’ll do this and see what happens.” However, many business people take a “Let’s see what happens,” approach in business. Unlike Buffet, they don’t have any sort of plan, or goal.
Branding guru Dorie Clark, a friend of mine and the author of the forthcoming book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press 2013), taught me about goal setting by using the “narrative arc.”
The narrative arc is a fancy way of saying every story needs a beginning, middle and an end. So does your business strategy. Having a narrative arc business strategy means you, like the character in a book, need a plan or a good plot line to reach a happy ending.
Like a good book your business should have a long-term goal. It should also have a short-term goal, and an intermediate goal. In fact, in a book every action or dialogue a character takes advances the story. Each and every action you take should advance your business. You do that by having goals for every decision you make.
Buffet does. He believes there needs to be profit now, in each and every decision his people make. That is why he is who he is. He hasn’t been distracted. He’s not depending on serendipity or some glittering, pie-in-the-sky promise of “maybe” or “possibly.” Every time Buffet does something he has a specific goal with a specific purpose in mind.
You should too. Your goals don’t all have to be financial.
Attaining those goals may make you money, but making money doesn’t have to be the only goal. When you meet your goal, any other benefits are “gravy.” But you need a goal to ensure the gravy.
When I accepted an invitation to visit and speak at Google, my goal was to give a talk at Google so I could say I spoke at Google. A goal of “speaking to Google,” was easy to meet: Did I show up? Did they show up? Yes.
(That’s what lets me brag about it in columns like this one – see?). Was it a financial goal? No. But the credibility of speaking for Google will help bring me financial rewards down the road.
When I did some consulting for a $60 million annual-income client, the goal was “to help them increase their revenue. “Did the numbers go up or down after they implemented my suggestions? Having a biggie client to add to my resume was an extra bonus and a secondary goal.
When Ksenia Svetlova on Channel 9, Israel’s Russian-language channel, interviewed me, my goal was not to attract new business. It was to have something to send my existing Russian clients. I wanted them to see that while I may not speak fluent Russian, I’m happy to work with that segment of business owners and entrepreneurs. My goal was to increase customer confidence and loyalty.
The same is true for The Jerusalem Post. Has writing these columns brought me clients? Sure it has. But that’s not why I write them. My goal is not to make money. The goal is credibility. What I do get out of being a columnist is prestige and a voice.
What the Post gives me is tremendous street credibility, more than any other publication I contribute to. The Jerusalem Post is known in the world today to be the voice of Israel. It is on par with the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. And when I’m introduced as “Rabbi Issamar who also writes a weekly column for The Jerusalem Post,” I’m associated with the tremendous credibility of one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers.
Some of that special pixie dust rubs off on me. That is my goal.
When I fly to the United States next week, one of the stops on my itinerary is Los Angeles. I’m paying my own way, even though, as of this writing, I have no seminar scheduled for the west coast. I just happen to have a movie studio client there.
While I don’t have to go down to California at all, considering we have never met and the work is progressing along wonderfully via technology, I have a special goal. I want to get a picture of myself with some of the people I’m working with. And since I know that’s the goal, anything else that happens while I’m there – like introductions or new business – is all gravy! So remember, to get the gravy you have to have goals in place first. That’s how it works. Gravy comes from the meat, not meat from the gravy. Issamar Ginzberg is a business adviser, marketer, professional speaker and rabbi who has been published in more than 50 business publications.