One of the most common denominators in all the personal growth communities and books is the importance of setting goals. You have to know where you want to go, so that the path can be revealed. The more complex your desires, the greater the power of long-term goals, short-term goals, lifetime goals and personal goals.
The benefits of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results based, Time-framed (S.M.A.R.T) goals have been written about for years. So, many agree, setting goals is a powerful process.
It is about ‘eating the elephant, one bite at a time’ and of turning vision into achievable, actionable things. It’s the common denominator of successful individuals and businesses.
Despite their obvious value, our experience with goals have shown that some are good at setting goals and sticking to them, achieving great results and others can’t keep a New Year’s resolution to stop smoking for two days in a row.
Failure to set goals can be seen as a fear of failure. That is, the blow to your integrity when you don’t reach your goals. When you make and keep commitments, such as setting and achieving goals, it reflects the amount of trust you have in yourself. You increase your confidence in yourself to make and keep commitments to others and yourself. However, when you don’t achieve your goals you lose confidence in your ability to make and keep commitments and to trust yourself.
There are many reasons why we don’t achieve our goals. Sometimes the goals we set are unrealistic. New Year’s resolutions are typical examples. Suddenly, we expect to change the way we eat, or the way we exercise just because the calendar changes. It’s like expecting a child that’s never ridden a bike to suddenly jump on and go, or to run a marathon without months of training. These goals are based on illusion with little regard to natural growth. You must crawl before you walk.
So, how do you set and achieve goals? Stephen R. Covey says it best in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal might look something like the following:
Specific – WHAT
My goal is to grow my business by 25% in the next 12 months.
WHY So that:
I can contribute to my retirement fund and retire in 5 yrs.
- Hire a business coach
- Increase business with existing customers by communicating regularly with them
- Develop an effective Sales Process to increase my conversion rate from 35% to 50%
- Enter a new market for my existing products
Focusing on the smaller, short-term goals and achieving success will give you the confidence to set other goals. So, remember, set your goals based on the S.M.A.R.T. principle to have the best chance of achieving your goals.
Do you want to be SMART? Join us at GrowthClub 90 day planning Sept 21, 2016 and start being SMART today.
Time – Can You Ever Get Enough?
Whether you own a business or work for someone who does, you have probably experienced the “never enough time” phenomenon. When I worked in the high tech world, the saying was always that there was never enough time to do it right, but always plenty of time to go back and fix it later. This practice was also known as using the customers for beta testing.
If we want our businesses and ourselves to thrive, then we must take the time to do things right. We must also be focused on doing the right things. Stephen Covey, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” offers a powerful tool, the matrix based on Urgency vs. Importance to achieve both of these goals.
In this matrix, Quadrant 2, is a set of activities in a business, or your life, that are Not Urgent, but are Important – this quadrant is the Zone. The Zone is that place where you set aside all the busy work of the day and focus on the things that are truly important for the long-term success of your business and your life. These are activities like planning, strategy, learning and cultivating relationships.
So how do we get in The Zone? First and foremost, you have to make a conscious decision to go there. It will not happen naturally, because these tasks are not urgent, they are not in your face demanding attention! When was the last time your most important client called you up and demanded that you get to work on your budget? Probably never, but when was the last time a client complained that you didn’t have the right parts in stock, or that you delivered her order a week late? Did you take the time to tell them that earlier this year you failed to budget for sufficient stock, or that you failed to plan the replacement of that machine that you knew was on its last legs? This is one of the hardest things for my clients to see, they are constantly in the “urgency” quadrant, specifically because they don’t spend enough time in the zone. Every day I hear about how overwhelmed they are, because of all the urgent daily demands. Getting in the Zone takes practice in order to become a habit. Here are some tips for how to do so.
Put it on your calendar on a regular basis
Scheduling time for planning activities is probably the best and maybe the only way to ensure that they get done. You should spend 20% of your time in Zone activities, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be weekly, it could be on a monthly or quarterly basis. One way is to allocate 4 hours per week to planning (medium-long term, not short term), an additional 8 hours per month, perhaps a couple of half-day sessions, and then an additional 16 hours per quarter, perhaps in an off-site session or two.
Establish a system for accountability
To help you reinforce the need and the habit. This can take the form of a coach, an accountability partner, a mastermind group, a partner, a spouse or any other person that you will feel accountable to for following through. Be sure that they know to ask you when you are allocating your time, and how you intend to spend it. Be sure that you have deliverables to them for the output of your planning, then review and discuss it with them.
Break up the work and the time into proper-sized chunks
Some people work best in 30-45 minute bursts, other prefer 2 hour chunks of time. Pay attention to your own attention span and work style and allocate the most efficient periods of time for you to get your work done. Break up the work into properly sized chunks so that you can accomplish something meaningful in each time period. Know yourself, and when you set aside your Zone time, make sure the chunks of time will be most effective for you.
Pick the right time of day for your Zone activities
In every business and for every person, there are times of day or days of the week that are better or worse than others. If you know that Monday mornings are always crazy, don’t allocate any Zone time for Mondays. You also know your own daily cycles, so be sure to schedule your Zone time at a time of day that is best for the type of thinking you will be doing – creative out of the box brainstorming or detailed number-crunching.
If you want your business to be a long term success, it takes this kind of intentional disciplined planning. Success rarely happens by mistake, so be sure that you are always planning for success, not just this week, but for the next decade.
If you want to really learn how to get into the Zone, come to my TimeWise workshop Friday June 17, 2016 11:30 – 1:00.
The Hardest Sale You Will Ever Make – Your Business
They say the three most stressful times in a person’s life are when they get married, buy a house and change jobs. Well, I don’t think whoever said that considered starting and selling a business – your company is your baby, the thing you have built over 15 plus years. You have put your heart, soul and an incalculable number of hours into it. Now you want to sell it.
There are many things you need to do and consider, but these seven areas are of immense importance when it comes to finding a buyer, selling the company and getting the most value for it.
1. Think about who would want to buy your business:
Do you have employees that have the management ability and the mindset of an owner and the ability to access capital to pay for the business? If these people aren’t working for you now, do you have time to recruit them and teach them the business with an understanding that they might take over? What about your suppliers, customers or competitors? They might be looking for an opportunity to enter your part of the industry.
Finally, you can go to the general market. Contact a broker that has experience in your type of business or get in touch with me for a referral to one.
2. Remove Yourself from the Business:
Many businesses revolve around the owner. Customers are used to dealing with you. Suppliers have long relationships with you. Your team trusts you. All these relationships need to be transferred to your other staff or the new owner.
3. Setup the Business as if you are going to Franchise it.
If the business exists primarily in your head, it’s not a company you can sell. No one will buy a business that relies solely upon the current owner – the person who wants to sell it and walk away.
Off load your knowledge and expertise into systems you can sell with the company. A well-systematized organization is attractive to prospective buyers who see the potential to own a business that runs smoothly using systems and, importantly, can run without their personal input.
A business that runs under management attracts a premium price when it comes time to sell.
4. Lock in your Key Staff – The most Important People in the Business:
If your senior staff aren’t in a position to buy the company, you need to lock them in some way. Best thing to do is talk to them and keep them fully informed.
Keep them up-to-date with developments in the sales process and make sure they understand where they will fit in after a successful sale. Consider introducing bonuses contingent on a successful sale.
5. The Customer Database – Your Pot of Gold:
This is what will add value to your sale price. Think about it from the buyer’s perspective, they are buying a company that with the hope that the customers continue to deal with them.
By developing solid relationships and a detailed database of your customers you will be giving them more confidence that they can manage the client relationships after you have gone. And they’ll value the business much higher.
6. Formalize Everything – Agreements:
Get all loose agreement in writing. Start with your employment agreements. Develop up-to-date agreements that lay out the terms and conditions that you employ your staff under.
Put agreements in place with your suppliers and customers as well. These should include trading terms, pricing contracts and any other “verbal” arrangements.
7. Ensure you have the Best Looking Financials:
You should aim to show three years of constant growth, with healthy-looking financials. Clean up any personal items that could be questionable as business expenses – this will improve your profit figures.
Clear up all outstanding debtors – this will improve your cash flow figures. Reduce any excessive spending and make the company look as profitable and attractive as possible.
8. Get a Business Coach to give you an Outsider’s Perspective:
Clients often come to me looking for someone outside the organization to assist them with the eight steps above. They are GREAT business owners, but may never have been through the sales process before.
An experienced business coach will not only provide you with advice to keep you on the right track, but also the motivation and confidence to see the project through.
Many people wake up one day, fed up with their company and then hurriedly attempt to sell it. This doesn’t work. Plan it two to five years in advance so that you get the best outcome.
Follow the eight steps above and you will reap the rewards for the many years you spent building your business.
To learn more, come to my free workshop this Friday on “How To Build A Business You Can Sell”.
Why You Need to Learn to Plan (And Plan to Learn)
We’ve all heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” But how many of us really take it seriously or take action on it? Do we even clearly understand the benefits? Why we should do it and what is the value to us?
In my experience, until we understand the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) we never really do anything. Normally we need a strong perceived benefit before we’ll generally do anything!
So let’s first take a step back and explore when we do understand planning. Two of the best examples are: 1. A wedding; and 2. Building a house.
Most weddings are either pretty good or even great. And even if you have been to a lousy one, it’s normally in the minority. Weddings generally work out well because they’ve had literally months and months of planning. Planners consider every detail and the plans get reviewed and adjusted all throughout the months before the big day.
For the second example, consider this:
Assistant (at Home Depot): ‘Hi, this is Joe Soap how may I assist you?”
You: “Hi Joe, I’ve just thought about building a house and want to order some bricks please.”
Assistant: “Sure, how many would you like?”
You: “Well I’m not sure, how many do you usually need for a house?”
Assistant: “That depends on the house. Have you thought about the color yet?”
You: “Not yet so maybe give me a few in every color you’ve got.”
This interaction seems absurd, as no one would ever just start building a house. We’d go through meticulous planning, designing and re-planning, long before we even get to ordering the bricks. First in our imagination, and then with an architect and, even a designer.
Yet I see business owners managing their businesses this way every day. Going through the daily motions, keeping all the balls in the air, without a clear plan for getting where they want to go.
So let’s see how and where planning fits in:
Once you have spent some time on getting clear on your dreams and goals (this is another subject), the next step would be to set SMART goals. SMART goals are then translated into plans so that the actions we take again feed up the line to ultimately achieving our dreams. This would be the same for business goals and personal dreams.
The disconnect between these 4 areas normally result in things like procrastination, boredom, being overwhelmed, burnout and the like. Once you have absolute clarity at each step, it’s easy to focus, and more often than not, you achieve your goals and ultimately dreams faster than initially expected.
With this understanding, I often find people wanting to then go straight into planning over a long period. If you’re not yet good at planning your day, there is no use in trying to plan the next three years. Develop a good daily planning habit first (Read, Eat That Frog, Tracy or First Things First, Covey).
So to start, get some clarity on what you’d like to achieve in the next 3 years. With that in mind, what is it you’d like to achieve in the next 12 months? Once you’ve got the 12 month goals, break them down and work backwards to what you should do in the next 90 days only. Start the planning at that level and first get good at creating a 90-day plan, like you would if you’ve been to my GrowthCLUB. Then break it into monthly focus areas and weekly goals, plans and actions that again connect to the 90-day goals.
Take daily action and get good at reviewing the daily plan and preparing for the next. Then move towards working on the weekly review and planning for the week ahead, and so on. Before long you’ll have exercised your planning ‘muscle’ and will be getting good at annual and then three-yearly planning.
Planning is a tool for achieving your dreams, and the more you work on it, and have fun with it, the more your life and business will bear the fruits. Block out time on your calendar right now when you are going to do this goal setting and planning, then go for it!
For more help, come to my next GrowthClub on June 22nd.
What’s Your Why?
What’s Your Why? When I hit the three-year mark in my own business, I did what many business owners and entrepreneurs do, I hit a wall. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to find my way around it, over it, or through it. It wasn’t my sales or marketing skills, it wasn’t the delivery of my services, it was something bigger that I could not figure out. It’s funny how the world works, but I ended up at a coaches conference at about this time and in the first hour of the first day of a 3 day conference, I learned what my wall was all about. What was missing was that deep something inside of each of us that inspires and motivates us to keep going, to want to achieve more – I had lost contact with my WHY.
Your WHY is that internal motivator that keeps you going when the going gets tough – it is your personal inspiration that drives you to stay the extra hour, run the extra mile, make the hard decisions. It’s something larger than you. So let’s take a look at what goes into your “why”.
For the engineers in the audience, the formula that I use is (T/G) + (Pa) + (Pu) + (F) + (B) + (V) +(C) = WHY, which is defined as follows.
Talents/Gifts – What are your natural talents and gifts? How do you use them to make the world a better place? We are all born with certain talents and gifts, and we are most fulfilled when we use them for the benefit of all around us.
Passion – What are you passionate about? What is your favorite cause, what stirs up your emotions and fills you with energy? What makes you want to jump out of bed and get going in the morning?
Purpose – Your purpose is your intended outcome that guides your decisions and actions. What is it that you intend to achieve in the end? How do you want to impact the world?
Faith – Faith is expressed in many ways, and includes both belief in a higher power and belief in humanity. It is also described as complete confidence in a person, plan, power, etc…
Beliefs – Your beliefs are those ideas that you hold to be true. They are not necessarily factually true, but they are the truth in your mind. They can range from simple beliefs about yourself and your capacity to learn or achieve, to more complex beliefs about money, family and society. We are all limited by our beliefs, and rarely achieve beyond them.
Values – Your values are those things and ideas which you hold to be important. What are the concepts that are important to your core? Values are the basis for your decision-making.
Courage – Courage is “a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger or pain without showing fear”. It is the ability to rise above those around you who shrink at the slightest hint of risk to do what you know is right and good, to act with conviction of purpose and in accordance with your values, no matter how difficult it seems.
So take a look inside of yourself and rate yourself in each of the categories. Spend some time acknowledging your talents and gifts, rediscover your passions. Define your intended outcomes, your purpose. Revisit your faith, identify actions to strengthen it, regardless of its source or destination. Identify your positive beliefs about yourself and reinforce them, make a concerted effort to overcome your negative beliefs, replacing them with new positive beliefs to work towards. Gain clarity about your values, and make sure that your actions and decisions are congruent with them. Lastly, have courage, and continue to take the high road, do what you know is right whether it is popular or not, and never look back on what might have been. Our futures are in front of us, not behind us.
Extra credit: Read Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why”
Get in touch for more ideas on finding Your Why.
What can you achieve with a 1% change?
As soon as you set a goal you have created a destination you want to reach. When you set the destination, you create a gap, a gap between where you are now and where you’re going. You must, of course, bridge or fill the gap.
If the gap is small and what it takes to bridge the gap is something we’re pretty familiar with, then it’s easy to bridge that gap and obtain that goal.
But what if, in order to move ahead, you need to learn how to do something new? Or what if the gap is big? A big gap to your destination or the need to learn something new can stop people before they even get started. The destination suddenly looks unachievable. In addition, setting a big life changing goal that calls for several big changes all at once, often makes us very uncomfortable and we often just won’t do what makes us that uncomfortable.
So, what happens when we set a goal to double (or triple) our revenue this year? BIG GAP happens. We’re not sure what to do or how to do it.
Answer: break the goal down into chunks – 1% chunks.
If your annual revenue is $1,000,000 now, doubling that means an additional $1M in sales. Big Gap! If that causes dizziness and the ‘yeah, how?’ response, then change the 100% goal into the 1% goal. So, 1% of that goal is only $10,000. A whole year is 260 working days so, 1% of that goal is 3 days. If your average sale is $3,400 you only need to make one more sale a day. If your salesperson is making one sale a day, together you can pretty easily figure out how to make 2 sales per day.
If you find your gap is 1,000 feet long, simply break it down into 1% chunks those steps are only 10 feet each. Getting 10 foot closer is easy.
A 1% change in the right direction, maintained continuously will build on itself. When you do something you gain confidence and reinforce the notion that you can make things happen. That’s exactly how the thousands of miles of railroads and the highways that connect the East coast to the West coast were built. It’s also how the Chunnel, or any diamond mine were built. The best way to bridge any destination with a Big Gap is 1% at a time.
Get more help with goal setting here.