Building the bonfire of your biz (and mine)

Fire man!
Ah, you wacky spiral. I love how you bring me back to an idea I know and teach, and make it a brand-new realisation again.

Cash and Joy, if it was shown in the metaphor of a fire, would be a campfire – enough to keep one person warm and fed, and shedding light out to the edge of the clearing it’s in.

A campfire is a wonderful thing. I’m proud to have built one and kept it alight for so long.

But I still hanker for a bonfire.

Every time I decide to myself now Catherine it is time we levelled up the biz! Epic adventures await and it’s time for the big leagues! then I tend to go out and find the biggest damn tree in the area and cut it down and drag it by the trunk back to the clearing and then dump the whole tree onto the flames.

As any of you who are campers/firebugs will know, what happens when you throw one big-ass lump of wood onto a fire is a great cloud of sparks, a dimming of the flame… and if you’re not careful, the fire goes out entirely.

Thus, worn out from the effort of tree cutting and dragging and all the rest, I tend to sink next to the fire and exhaustedly panic as the fuel smothers the flame instead of what I want to happen: instantly igniting, shedding light and warmth and hope across kingdoms and satrapies and city-states uncounted.

Often I end up kicking the entire log off the flames, so that overall I have lessened the fire instead of dramatically growing it.

In one of my more persistently dumbass moves, three months later I find myself doing the same thing.

That’s not the way to build a bonfire.

The best way to build a bonfire is:

  • get a steady flame built
  • keep consistently adding fuel to it
  • fan the flames

That first stage is full of frenzied action – scraping the flint and tinder, praying for smoke, moving the tinder in too quickly oh dammit, and puffing just hard enough on the first caught straw to get that precious flame to spread. It’s tiring and exhilarating and crazy, and thank mighty fuck I have already done it. (Flame-lighters, I salute thee.)

But the second and third actions don’t require gigantic transformative action. They require you to keep on going to the brush, finding chunks of fallen wood, breaking them down, and adding them to the fire. They require you to stand there with a newspaper, diligently fanning the flames at a steady rate so the new tinder catches.

And if you keep steadily doing those things, you end up with a bonfire.

This metaphor, you can see where it is going…

I’m going to try an experiment, and I invite you to observe it.

For the next three months I am going to avoid Gigantic! Level-up! Strategies! and all those “Hey, let me take care of this in one single email/article/flood of tweets” crapshoots.

Instead I am going to do what I advise my clients to do: I’m going to clarify three paths for my marketing – three ways for people to travel from never-heard-of-you to gloriously-happy-client-telling others.

And I’m going to just keep on doing them.

And I’m not going to do anything else.

Just showing up, writing a guest post every week. Following 20 new amazing people on Twitter every day. Writing more resources for Rise and Shine.

Building the bonfire with regular fuel and fanning.

Let’s see whether this metaphor holds up, shall we?

I’m betting it does.

P.S. I’m still giggling my way through the applications, but the next Pilot Light cohort currently has a couple of seats left. If you’re interested in building YOUR bonfire, please do check it out and put your details in if you want to chat about whether it’s right for you.

Creative Commons License photo credit: redeye^

2 thoughts on “Building the bonfire of your biz (and mine)

  1. Having got my own paths all straight and shiny (thanks for your help with that btw), today I sat down and galloped through the final few Pilot Light missions again (and any one reading this who hasn’t sent in an application yet? Do it! You will not regret it. Best business decision I made all year!) to make sure I had everything all neat and ready to track so I’d know I was actually doing the work.

    And a funny thing has happened … I’m no longer the  ‘go with the flow’ girl, randomly choosing what stuff to do depending on how I’m feeling. Instead, I know what I’m doing tomorrow morning after dropping the children off at school.

    And instead of feeling all stifling and restrictive like I thought it might, it feels hugely freeing because I can do that stuff (and it’s all stuff I like to do – bonus!) and still take time to go for a walk, all the while knowing that my business is in hand.

    All that to say, I think following your own advice is a superb idea because your advice is ace!

  2. Here’s a thought from our family’s bonfire building experience that I’m hoping will be helpful and add to the discussion.

     You are right in that we’ve never just picked any old tree to toss on. Instead, we choose stuff we know will work and use it over and over again (gee, where did I read that before?).

    The first thing is we gather up sticks and branches that blow down from the trees in the yard and make an ongoing pile until we’re ready to have a bonfire. We usually also need some paper or other quick catch material to start things off.

    We also plan for two other kinds of fuel, stuff that will last for an hour or more, but also stuff that’s big and fun the kind that will produce our 12 foot high, we probably shouldn’t have fire this big without a permit kind of flames. I have pictures should you care to see them :-). We accomplish this with last season’s Christmas tree which at the point we use it, is dried and brittle, just right for its intended purpose.

    Lastly, we’re also prepared with pitch forks for moving things around, a hose nearby should something go amiss, and we keep an eye on things so that doesn’t happen (so far so good :-)). I’m thinking there are a few more lessons in there and that I should remember them next time we set match to tree parts.

    Should you ever end up in our little part of Michigan USA, we’ll be glad to invite you over :-).

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