If I asked you what the biggest pain point is in your business today, what would you answer?
For plenty of us, the answer is not having enough clients – which translates into not making enough money. Not earning enough is in my opinion the bigger issue. If I only made more money, I could (fill in the blank). Or if I only made the same amount of money in less time, I could (fill in the blank).
Time and money are both types of currency. At times it feels like you have all the time in the world, but not enough money in the bank. Other times it feels that you have enough funds, but free time is rather illusive. It really sucks when you don’t have enough of either!
How can one solve this problem? I think setting both realistic expectations and goals are imperative to a successful business. If you don’t know where you’re currently at or what you’re working towards, it’s nearly impossible to make the necessary changes to get where you want to go. I’ve outlined a five step process to help you goal set for your business and hold yourself accountable to achieving them – whatever they are!
1. Know Why You’re Working
If you don’t have a clear why or reason behind why you’re trying to build your business, it can be hard to get – then stay motivated. You could start out all gung ho with building a side business or trying to increase the revenue of your full-time enterprise, only to have it fizzle out because you don’t have a strong motive or clear destination in mind.
For some people, it’s putting food on the table, a roof over their family’s head while having a flexible schedule and potential for unlimited income. For others it’s to move away from something – or out of your mother’s house! You have to decide what you’re working towards (or away from) and have a solid understanding of why. My reasons or definition won’t suit you – only your own will!
Action Step: Take five minutes to sit down and think about your why. If it doesn’t come to you instantly, you might be lacking the motivation that would really help your business explode.
2. Make It Tangible
Even if you have the strongest why in the world, you won’t accomplish your goal unless you quantify it. Take having a flexible schedule and providing for your family for example. You need to know what exactly that means. Does it mean that you will have the freedom to shut down your laptop and tend to a sick child by taking them to the doctor at the drop of a hat? Does it mean only working when they’re asleep (largely unrealistic, I know)? Or does it mean working from 9-2 everyday and having the rest of the day free to do what you want?
Even if you quantify the hours you’d ideally work, you still need to quantify your income goals. If you’re not hitting your minimum hourly rate, but you’re only working your 20 ideal hours, then you’re not accomplishing your goals. If on the other hand you’re charging more than your minimum hourly rate, you may not need to work as many hours as you currently are or can allocate the extra income to a personal savings goal (another goal you should spend some time developing).
Action Step: Get out your calculator and figure out the numbers behind your goal. Is it a dollar figure? An amount of hours? Both?
3. Tell Someone Else
Goals are often more powerful when you speak them out loud. You can increase your odds of success if you write them down. By writing down your action steps towards achieving your set goal, your odds increase again. When you share your commitment with a friend, they get even higher. Results are highest when you share your ongoing results with said friend.
With every added level of action, you solidify your commitment to achieving what you say you want to accomplish. There’s an extra level of effort and exposure when you write them down, set action steps or confide in someone you know. That extra pressure will (hopefully) garnish the right amount of stress to keep you accountable to doing what you need to in order to be successful.
Action Step: Write out your goals, a few action steps and share them with a trusted friend.
4. Measure Your Progress
Once you’ve figured out your why, quantified your goals and shared them with a friend, you need to pick a regular time to review your progress. A goal is useless if you’re not measuring it! My suggestion is that you book a regular time in your calendar for reflection, specifically on your business and your progress towards your goals.
Now that you have a specific time (and maybe place) to revisit your goals, make sure you sit down and do it. Figure out where you’re at now versus where you’re trying to go. Are you on track to get there in the amount of time you have left?
If you’re on track, congratulations! Pat yourself on the back and pick an inexpensive way to treat yourself. Let it sink in that you’re doing what you need to and that you’re making the right amount of progress to make your goals a reality.
If you’re not on track, is there something you can change to get back on track? Review your marketing plan to see what’s effective and what’s not working. Consider reviewing your rates to see if you’re charging what you’re worth. It’s easy for us to undervalue ourselves and the services we offer – are you charging enough?
Action Step: Pick a regular time (and place) to measure your progress. Bonus points for sharing your progress regularly with your trusted friend.
5. Revisit Your Why
Over time both your goals (and motivation behind them) may change. Has your why changed? Maybe you set out with a why of quitting your job. Once you accomplish this step, it’s no longer your why. Your why may now be not to have to go back to Corporate America, but that probably won’t last you long either. Take some time to reevaluate if your why has changed – if it has, what has it changed to?
You’ll need to repeat step two if your why has changed. Quantify this one too, in case the numbers look different. If your why was to put 20% down as a down payment on a home (to move out of your mom’s basement), then you may have had to be more aggressive in your business to accomplish this goal. Does your activity need to stay at the heightened level now that you’ve made it a reality?
Or maybe you’ve added another child to your family. It might be that you worked hard to work less while your new baby was first at home to ease the transition on your family and spend time together. But maybe now, it’s important that you ramp up your earnings in order to start another college fund or allow your wife to stay home instead of going back to work. Your why may have changed and you need to sit down and figure out how – then do the math again.
Action Step: Take a minute to consider if your why has changed.
Give It a Try
Goals are important. Research shows that you’re more effective when you take the time to write them down and share them. Why then are we so reluctant towards the process at times? My guess is it’s either fear or laziness – maybe both.
If you’re good at thinking about goals, but not at putting an action plan in place to achieve them, consider giving the five steps above a try to see if this system will work for you too. What have you got to lose?
Photo Credit: creepyed