My previous articles have talked about marketing with regards to knowing your customer and refining your niche. This week I want to talk a little bit more about the mental game of business and what is required to build a successful business.
Specifically, I want to provide some useful tips for goal setting. If you are currently not setting goals for your business, then this article will help you get started. If you are setting goals for your business, then this article will help give you some handy tips to improve your goal setting and hopefully your results.
If you are serious about making a living from your online endeavors, then you need to have goals for your business. At the very least so you have some idea of how you may possibly pay your bills. You also want to have some idea of what you wish to accomplish. If you use a goal in the simplest sense just to give you a general direction to head for, then at least that is a start.
Not having any goal would be like getting in a car for a drive and not having any destination in mind. Sure you may end up somewhere nice, but the probability of ending up somewhere nice if you actually planned to end up there would be a lot higher.
Usually goals are stated as what I call result orientated goals and there is nothing wrong with that. For example, business goals may include “I want to make $XXXX amount of money this year” or “I want to sell X amount of products”. Setting goals like this is a good starting point, but I want to help you tweak your goal setting for better results.
From The Economist in 1955 is a quote that has come to be known as Parkinson’s Law:
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
A more generalized version is:
“The demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource.”
If you are not a savvy saver you will often find this true of your finances. As your earnings increase, so do your expenses.
Basically, Parkinson’s Law can be applied to goal setting in the form of setting a deadline. This is useful for long term goals, but I find it incredibly applicable for short term goals. We probably all experienced this with assignment deadlines in high school or university. If you have two weeks to complete a project, it will take you two weeks. But if you set yourself the goal to get it done in one week, you probably could.
Obviously you need to be realistic, but I am just saying you may surprise yourself if you tighten the reigns a little on your goals and set some tougher deadlines. Give it a go on your next small project. For example, I allocated a certain amount of time to writing this article. This pushed me a little and motivated me to be more productive.
Although I am a fan of dreaming big, I also find it can be a bit overwhelming at times. So I find that breaking down a goal into more manageable pieces can help give you a sense of the smaller stepping stones you need to take to reach your end goal. Plus, it allows you to monitor your progression and make any necessary adjustments along the way. Revising goals is also an important point we will discuss later.
There are two ways that I find helpful to breakdown a large goal:
1. Break down the goal into some progressive steps.
For example, if you have a goal for your business to earn $100,000 dollars in the third year of operation you may have some smaller milestones along the way. You may breakdown the $100,000 per year goal into a goal of earning $30,000 the first year of operations and then $75,000 the second year. That way the end goal looks more manageable, and you have some checkpoints along the way to monitor progress. This enables you to make any necessary changes during the allocated time period and not just at the very end when it may be too late.
2. Break down the goal into smaller pieces.
If you have a goal of getting 73,000 visitors to your website in a year, you could break that down to a monthly or daily figure. You would need 200 daily visitors and 6000 monthly visitors to reach that goal. That way you can focus on these more manageable numbers and know that if you reach them, you will reach your larger goal.
A great example of breaking down goals is seen by Internet Writer Everett Bogue in his 333 project. Everett has set himself the goal of making $100,000 per year from writing. He has decided to charge a $25 monthly fee to readers for access to “letters” he writes.
The math is simple:
$25 x 12 months x 333 subscribers = $100,000.
So (in his mind) all Everett needs is 333 subscribers. Instead of constantly thinking about making $100,000, Everett is probably thinking how he can enrich, add value and connect with enough people that 333 of them are willing to pay him $25 a month. Not bad considering most aspiring writers are struggling to make ends meet.
The problem with result orientated goals is they tell nothing about the “how to” process of achieving the goal. It leaves you totally unaccountable for your actions towards that goal.
So your results orientated goal may be getting 100,000 visitors to your website in a year. What about the process or procedure for that? You can set goals for those also, I call them action goals. They define what you need to do to achieve that result goal.
Some action goals for the above example may include:
So now you have a procedure for achieving the end goal. Notice the procedures are objectified and very definite so there is no question about if you did them or not. You either did or you didn’t.
I find not setting action goals, or not having a procedure behind a goal, is probably the main reason people fail in their goal setting.
Things don’t always go to plan. And I think that constant revision of your goals has many benefits.
Firstly, it can help to regularly reinforce what you are striving for and this can be important for inspiration and motivation. Secondly, it can help you make necessary adjustments. If you have some goal stepping stones like I mentioned earlier, you can gauge if you need to make any adjustments to your end goal or your procedures. Lastly, things change. Life is dynamic. Our wants, needs and desires can change, and our goals should be flexible to realign with any changes that happen.