This is my basil plant.
Looks pretty good, right? Lots of leaves, standing upright, green.
Except… upon closer examination, little signals show me that it’s not thriving as it was when I bought it. In the store, the leaves were a darker, truer green, with a proud stiffness to their texture. When plucked, they emanated that deliciously fresh, basil-y scent - and they tasted damn good on my caprese salads.
Just now, I plucked off a leaf and noticed that it was softer, thinner. Worse yet, I raised it to my nose to discover that it smelled… like nothing, just a normal leaf. Not a hint of basil. What the heck is going on?
I’m no gardener, but I can take an educated guess. Since purchasing it six weeks ago, my poor basil plant has suffered through multiple “feast or famine” cycles, since its access to sun and water has been at the whim of my distracted and sporadic attention.
Unfortunately for my plant, my attention is usually focused on other work and home demands. Until it’s screaming “save me!” via wilted, yellowed leaves, it’s all too easy to forget about it.
There’s a business lesson here: most of the freelancers, consultants, and coaches I know fall victim to the same attention challenge.
It’s easy to focus on visible client demands, like responding to an email or delivering the project.
It’s easy to spend time on tactical activities for your business, like tracking your expenses and invoices or updating your website.
It’s easy to accept meetings or coffees with referrals who reach out to you.
What’s hard is to give your time, attention, and focus to the activities that don’t have an immediate timeline or payoff.
Things like: consistently engaging with your network via social media and email.
Proactively growing your network through events, referral requests, and informational meetings.
Actually documenting your business goals, then designing and executing a plan to achieve them - with only yourself to stay accountable to.
Unfortunately, those activities are the sun and water that are critical to growing your business. With consistent attention and action, your sales pipeline will start to look perkier, greener. Without it, your business will wither.
So: stop procrastinating. Start paying attention. Water your business.
Start with just once or twice a month: pick a recurring date to step away from the day-to-day, and focus instead on the big picture. Ask yourself: how am I doing? Where do I want to be in six months? What can I improve upon? What can I proactively do to get connected, find balance, charge more, take on bigger projects?
Most importantly: what’s one little step I can take today to answer these questions, and nurture my business?
Do that consistently, and put your independent career on the path to growth and sustainability.
Tell us below - how often do you take a step back and water your business?
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