A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

How to Achieve Your Goals

How to achieve your goals How to achieve your goals is a guest post by Jaime Tardy.

“By setting goals and measuring their achievement, you can focus on what is most important, waste less energy on noncritical tasks, and achieve greater results. “ – Harvard Business Essentials

Most of us have heard the statistic: People who set goals are more successful. You know how to set goals. But do you know how to achieve them?

As a entrepreneurial coach I have seen a lot! I've used my clients’ successes and failures to set up a system for actually achieving goals.

Set Your Destination: One Year, One Goal

Pick one main goal. We get WAY too caught up in wanting everything now. Yes, I want everything now too! But if we don't put a laser focus on our goals, we will water things down. Choose only one focus in 2011 for your business.

I love Erica's idea of choosing a #themeword to describe your year. I do a similar thing by picking the one goal that will define my year.

In order to pick that one goal, you need to first figure out the priorities in your business.

Priorities. What is the #1 most important thing in your business? What are numbers 2 and 3?

If you don't know what is most important in your business, you cannot effectively make decisions about the year ahead. Is customer retention the biggest factor in your success? Is it improving conversions on your online campaigns?

Once you have chosen the one goal that describes your year, answer these questions:

  1. How would you feel in 5, 10 or 20 years if you never reached this goal?
  2. Is it bold enough?
  3. Do you believe you can achieve it?
  4. Does this conflict with any other goals?
  5. What obstacles will be in your way?
  6. What people or groups will you need to work with to achieve the goal?
  7. What knowledge will you need to complete this goal?
  8. Are you willing to pay the price? Are you 100% committed?
  9. What are the benefits of achieving it? What pain will there be if you don't achieve it?

After you answer these questions, you should have a general feeling if this goal is big enough to be scary, hard enough to matter, and exciting enough to really commit to–no matter what. If you don’t feel strongly enough about your goal, change it.

Plan Your Trip: Set Measurements and Objectives

Many of my entrepreneurial clients have so many ideas on what they could be doing and what might bring in revenue that they can't figure out where to start. The solution? Work backwards. Break it down! Break your Big Goal into 3 month, 6 month and 9 month goals so you know where you need to be to reach your goal at each point in the year.

For example, let’s say you want to earn $8,000 per month by the end of 2011. Right now you earn $4,000 per month. So within 6 months you need to earn $2,000 more per month. And within 3 months you need to earn $1,000 more per month.

In order to make the goal of an extra $1,000 per month by March 31, you need to make $250 more per week.

Translate into products or services. Let's say you are a graphic designer. If you average about $250 per client, you need 1 more client each and every week.

So you set the objective "Get one additional client each week". That's a bit intangible. How do you get one more client per week? You may be thinking, “If I knew that, I would be making more already!”

The key is to know your numbers. If you are keeping track of your metrics already, you should know your closing rate–how many prospects you need to talk to in order to sell one person. If you don't know, start keeping track.

Let's say your closing rate is 50%. That means you only need to speak with two qualified prospects to gain one new client.

But how many people do you need to talk to if you want to find two qualified prospects? If you don't already know at this point, look at your history of sales and make an educated guess.

Let's say you average one quality prospect for every 6 people that you speak to. That means you need to have twelve conversations each week.

To meet your goal, brainstorm a list to accomplish just that one objective. Ask yourself: “How can I have twelve conversations each week?”

If you have conversations by networking events, how many do you need to go to? If you have conversations via email, how many more visitors or subscribers do you need to your website?

Fill out what your new goals are each quarter and write down the tasks you will need to do to accomplish them.
Date: 3 Month Goals – Earn $5,000 per month by March 31st 2011.

  • Get one additional client each week
    • Have twelve conversations per week
      • Go to two more networking events per month
      • Create four guest posts to bring in traffic to the website
    • Set up a system to keep in touch with qualified prospects.

Date: 6 Month Goals – Earn $6,000 per month by June 30th 2011.

Date: 9 Month Goals – Earn $7,000 per month by September 30th 2011.

Date: 1 Year Goals – Earn $8,000 per month by December 31st 2011.

Right now, commit to just the first three months. Decide that you will achieve your three-month goal come Hell or high water. Declare that you will still be pursuing this goal in March.

Most resolutions for the new year fail. In fact, the New York Times shows that over 80% of New Year’s goals have failed by Valentine's Day. Commit to the goal until March 31st, and afterward you can decide if that goal is right for your business. If not, modify it–but stick with it long enough to decide.

Takeoff: Now I have objectives, how do I achieve them?

You are never going to know exactly what you are going to do every single step of the way. At the pace small businesses change, there is no way to predict what information you will need to know 9 months from now.

You can, however, set up a system to figure out what to do next.

System for Achieving Objectives:

Look at your objectives! You need to consciously bring attention to your goals each week. I've had clients who set aside time at the end of the week to look at their objectives and rate their progress.

Keep your objectives in an easily-visible place. Some people keep their objectives written in their bathroom!

Set weekly priorities. Begin each week by determining what three things are most important to accomplish in your business. This means you will accomplish them even if you have to work late into the night.

Figure out your priorities by setting aside time to plan your week. Your week should not only be about putting out fires. Your tasks each week should be bringing you closer to your goals.

Find a mastermind group, coach or another business owner who can hold you accountable. You can create a great business without a good support network, but why would you want to? There will be tough days this year–days when you throw your hands up and say, “I'm frustrated! This isn't working!” Set up a support structure that can talk you off that ledge. Your accountability partner/group can also help by giving you their experiences and expertise.

A new year is a great time to really set yourself up for success. Take the time now to make sure 2011 is your best year ever!

Jaime Tardy is an entrepreneurial coach and blogs about growing your amazing business at Eventual Millionaire.

Erica’s note: Thanks, Jaime! I wrote about this system of thinking backwards from your goals to now in my earlier post True Visionaries Think Backwards. Take some time each week or even each day to say, “Is what I am working on now helping me achieve my goals?” If it’s not, consider outsourcing it, hiring it out, or dropping the task altogether. And don’t forget to drop by Jaime’s blog at Eventual Millionaire.

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