Category Archives: Business planning

The Value and Implementation of Short-term Goals

If you’ve been reading my column regularly, you know I enjoy brisk morning walks up toward South Mountain. I find those walks invigorating and thought-provoking.

Recently, I observed my walking and thinking and started applying my observations to running my business. I could see similarities to my commitment to reaching a certain milestone up the hill a ways to accomplishing goals in my business.

What I discerned in that process seemed quite helpful, so I decided to pass on my observations to motivate you to create more short-term goals.

The long term goal

I have no idea how far it is to the apex of the part of the mountain that is near my home and only a mild desire to ever reach it by foot. (Hats off to the people who walk in the 3-Day Walk for the Cure!) The mountain is a useful visual however to put my actual daily goal which is much closer (1 mile up, 1 mile back), into context.

From a business perspective, if I were actually committed to reaching that summit, that would be akin to a long-term business objective or even a company’s mission.

The short term goal

What struck me on my walk is that each day, as soon as I turn the corner out of my development, I set my eyes on the spot almost a mile away I intend to reach that day. It seems far away at the time, but I know based on my past walks, I can make it in 20 minutes. I keep my goal in mind, but I stop looking at it.

The path

I have a few options of where I’ll walk. As I leave my home, I could walk on the sidewalk or the street. I choose the street because there is little traffic and the asphalt feels better beneath my feet than the sidewalk. Once you know where you’re going in your business, the path will become clear and you may have options

The immediate goal

My perspective then becomes quite close, a couple of steps, 2 – 3 feet in front of me. The value of this shorter-term focus is that it keeps me motivated. Focusing on the next 2 steps is easy! I know I can do that. It’s also quite rewarding because I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction by completing each step.

If I were to keep my eyes on the goal a mile away, I might get discouraged and slow down or even give up. But two steps ahead? I can finish those all day every day.

Focus

When I’m walking on a lot of uneven-sized rocks, the focus is even shorter. Those rocks represent potential obstacles, roadblocks or surprises in your business.When your focus is on the immediate future, you can see and avoid potential dangers before they become problems. I have to navigate the uneven path more carefully because one mis-step on one rock that moves unexpectedly could result in a sprained or twisted ankle (which actually happened about a month ago).

It slowed me down, stopped the walks for a couple of days and required an athletic band for a couple of weeks as it healed.

Distractions

The ‘rocks’ might even be interesting distractions that grab your attention and take your focus off your main goal. Outlook and Facebook can be distractions if you aren’t strategic, purposeful and organized about interacting with them. Taking classes that sound interesting but aren’t critical to your success is a distraction as is taking a class and never implementing what you learn.

Goal recheck

Periodically, I look toward my visual end point. Since I haven’t looked for a while, it looks closer and this makes me happy! I feel progress is happening and it incites me to make more. Focus Then it’s back to looking only 2 – 3 feet ahead. My attention is on form, breathing, making sure I’m keeping my desired pace up.

I’m determined to reach the daily goal in my mind, but my focus is on my immediate behaviors, attitudes and actions that will get me there.

Alert

While I’m focused on my one-step-at-a-time movements, I’m also aware of my surroundings. I enjoy encounters with nature, occasional bunny/jack rabbits, roadrunners, quail, flowering cacti, bird calls, the sun on my body, the wind by my ears. These distractions make the trip enjoyable. They put a smile on my face and spur creativity.

The lesson here is, as you’re pursuing your goals, make sure you smell the roses. If you love what you do, you’ll get pleasure from that. But occasionally, you might need to schedule in some fun to make sure it happens. You know what they say about all work and no play.

Danger

Occasionally, I’ll encounter a car approaching me. If my sights are off in the distance, I’ll see it. Then I play the game of estimating how quickly and at what point we’ll ‘meet’ so I can determine where I’ll step off the asphalt and onto the rocky roadside. In your business, you need to stay alert to incoming objects and anticipate how you’ll deal with them. You may need to adjust your actions and come up with contingency plans. Being alert allows you to anticipate issues before they become problems and avert them before they do damage.

7 Requirements to Turn a Dream into a Business

One of the things I hear over and over again when I work with my clients is “Wow!” I never thought of that!”

There’s something about the process of talking out loud with another person skilled in thought facilitation that generates insight, creativity and innovation that simply isn’t possible on one’s own.

A recent new client spent an afternoon with me sorting out the ideas in her head about the business she dreamed of launching.

To quote her, “We’re caught in our own heads and world and thoughts. We need an outside agent to pull the ideas out.

As I evaluate what it is I consistently do that evokes the sparking of new ideas that provoke committed and inspired action, I’ve boiled it down to seven things.

1) A proven process
Depending on the client’s goal, one or more of several processes are employed to guide the client toward the desired end result. Whether it’s defining the perfect market, evaluating your readiness for the venture or surveying the competitive landscape, you can’t just have a random, meandering conversation that goes nowhere.

Surely there must be flexibility in the system, but having a definitive track to start on, helps the process flow smoothly.

2) Mirrored thought
Ideas when articulated become more clear. Even faulty thinking is identified more rapidly when expressed out loud.

Often just repeating what someone says makes them come to grips with it’s truth or fallacy.

3) Shared observations and recommendations
Years of experience in banking, technology, marketing and management have generated a practical perspective and literally thousands of opinions 🙂  on a variety of topics that can be invaluable to someone who isn’t quite sure how to proceed on their quest. Well-informed counsel can make life easier.

4) Appropriate doubt
“Are you sure about that?”. Another client was about to take action that was fundamentally a good idea, but about to be implemented without appropriate research and advice. Questioning her encouraged her to seek other professional advice that equipped her with the proper strategies and approach to protect her investment in her business.

We are enamored with our own ideas. The intent here is not to rain on anyone’s parade, but to help avoid the pitfalls of certain decisions. By identifying potential risks in advance, plans can be made to minimize them or avert certain situations altogether.

5) Support that evokes commitment
By the same token, we sometimes doubt our abilities. Belief in an idea and the person holding it will go a long way to building their confidence for making it happen. Think about it. When some has believed in you, didn’t you feel you could conquer the world?

6) Action planning
All of the brilliant insights are of little use if not applied in the real world. Goals are accomplished one step at a time. Knowing what those steps are keeps you from procrastinating or wasting time flailing around on non-productive activities.

7) Follow up and follow through
Most people are more likely to get something done if they’ve told someone else they will do a thing. When commitments are made and kept privately, there is too much temptation to let them slip or to replace them with some other activity.

Going public with your goals and reporting on your journey will help ensure that the journey actually happens. Getting support and coaching along the way, empowers the experience of accomplishment.

I believe accountability makes magic happen. When we’re held accountable for making progress on our dreams, it opens the door to a life of purpose, fulfillment and prosperity.” -Loretta Love Huff

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How to Know If Your Business Loves YOU

There are several prerequisites for having a business that loves you as much as you love being a business owner.

It’s tempting to delude yourself into accepting less than you deserve because you’re so enamored with the concept of being a business owner.

The reality of it can be a much different story.

When we live in a state of delusion, we’ll accept less than we deserve. We put up with and tolerate behavior that is not conducive to our well-being.

So how do you know if your business is being true to you? How do you know if it’s putting you above all else? How do you know if it would take a bullet for you?

“What’s a body to do?”, you ask.

Establish criteria and expectations that will allow you to lead a lifestyle that inspires you.

1. Schedule vacations

Without proper planning, you could end up working throughout the entire year. When you do your business planning (you DO do that don’t you?), decide how much time you want to take off and then block it out on your calendar. You don’t have to know where you’re going to go (although that helps), you just need to commit to when.

2. Work in your sweet spot

Most people go into business because of a passion or area of expertise thinking that’s how they’ll spend most of there time. Then they realize there is so much more that’s required in running a business. When you’re new you may not be able to afford all of the help you need, but before you think you CAN afford it, start outsourcing tasks you hate or aren’t good at. Doing so will actually free you up to be more creative and thus afford you the time to work on things that will generate more sales.

3. Value your time an expertise

You deserve to be paid what you’re worth. Focus on sharing your gifts with others for recompense in addition to the pure joy of it. Don’t undervalue your knowledge and passion. People need your unique perspective and want help from someone who knows more than they do.

4. Work with people you adore

This is definitely one of the big perks of being in business. You get to choose your ideal clients. This is particularly true if you’re in a service business. You target the kind of folk you want to work with. You don’t have to make an ‘offer’ to everyone if you’re not interested. Or, you could add a premium to the price so it feels more palatable to you. I don’t strongly recommend that option. It’s one thing to charge more for work you enjoy less. It seems almost mean to do it for such personal reasons as not liking someone. Just say ‘no’ and move on.

5. It pays you well

I remember talking with a graphic designer 20 years ago when I first started my jewelry design business. I sold hand-crafted earrings and necklaces at Art & Wine festivals in northern California. As we were chatting about my new business (I was very excited), I revealed how much I paid in entrance (booth) fees for the more popular shows. Her reaction was “Oh. I guess you’re happy to just break even.”

I looked at her in dismay. “No”, I said. “I almost always make a substantial profit. And on those occasions when I don’t, I know it’s an aberration and I don’t do that particular show again (unless it was just rained out which was a rare occurrence).

Pristine Beach East Zanzibar
Image via Wikipedia

That jewelry business paid for a 3 1/2 week trip to Tanzania for a safari, a week in Zanzibar and a week in the ‘bush’ with the Masai. It was a great way to start off in the business world. And even today, my pricing reflects the value I provide to my clients not just the minimum to ‘break even’ and cover the bills.

So, if your business loves you, you’ll enjoy your work and your clients. You’ll have time to relax and enjoy live.

You’ll be valued by your clients and you’ll be paid what you’re worth.

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7 Steps for Setting Goals and Prioritizing Actions

In order to make substantive progress in life, you must have a clear picture, sense or description of where you’re going. Without that, your time will be consumed by life’s mini and major emergencies.

Even when you have that plan, things won’t always go that way. Never-the-less, make time to be strategic about your life, career or business.

Here are 7 critical concepts that will help you deal with almost anything.

1. Plan at least once a year
Block out time on your calendar and ask yourself where you want to be five years from now. Identify milestones and required accomplishments along the way. Anticipate potential obstacles you might encounter and figure out NOW how you’ll avoid or deal with them if they arise.

2. Bring  your emotions into play
Emotions create motivation. You’ll need some fuel to help you through the challenges and tedious times too. As you ponder your bright future, write down WHY it’s important for you to get there and how you’ll feel once you do.

3. Think big but plan small
This is like Think globally, but act locally.  Progress is made one step at a time. If your goal is big (and it should be) it might overwhelm you into thinking it’s not possible for you. When you break it down into small chunks, your brain will say “I can do that!”. And it will

4. Put activities on your calendar
If your plan stays in your notebook or pad of paper, it won’t be executable. Do somehthing every day (or at least every week) toward your goals

5. Schedule time for breakdowns during the day
Stuff happens. That won’t be avoidable. So anticipate the phenomenon and block out one-hour block for random acts of ‘stuff’. That way, when they happen, you’ll already have accounted for them and they’ll have less of an impact on your plans for the day.

6. Step into the abyss when it occurs
When something big breaks down (a body requiring an unexpected surgery, for example), you gotta deal with it. The emergency requires your full attention. Do what needs to be done.  If you resist, procrastinate or try to avoid it, it will just get worse.

Ask for help. Do things to take care of yourself. Pray and meditate or just think about the bigger picture. That will help provide perspective. Some emergencies are short lived. Other unforeseen circumstances last for a long time and require a lot of patience. Resist the urge to become a helpless victim. Stay true to your values. Stay true to yourself.

7. Keep your eye on the future
The emergency will pass so while you’re dealing with it, think about how lovely life might be once it’s behind you. Emergencies have a way of helping you prioritize what’s REALLY important. So ‘use’ the time to assess yourself and your goals.

Do these things and you’ll become ever stronger, more capable and effective.

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3 Critical Elements for Generating More Sales

Have you been wondering what it takes to grow your business at a rate faster than the market?

Many business owners keep their head to the grindstone. They work hard at their craft and delight in serving their customers. Unfortunately, all that work takes time away from building the business in time-effective ways.

Sure, you go to networking events, make phone calls (you do make calls, don’t you?), maybe advertise in certain places or encourage people to make referrals on your behalf.

Still, not enough profit in the bank account leaves you feeling exhausted, confused and frustrated.

“What’s a body to do?”, you ask.

In my more-than-a-decade of helping business owners improve their situations, I’ve discovered that it takes 3 things to rise above the herd and outpace the market in terms of industry sales in your category.

1. A killer niche
Without a clear niche, you’ll likely never make any headway in your industry. People will struggle to understand what you do and won’t know why they should work with you versus any other provider of … (you fill in the blank).

You will likely struggle yourself positioning yourself against the competition. Your lack of clarity will keep your confidence level suppressed resulting in timidity.

Your message to the market will be muddled. No one will hear you. No money will flow to you. Sales will come through a lot of hard work.

2. Pricing that maximizes your profits
When you’re crystal clear about who you serve and how, your next challenge is packaging your products and services to garner the highest levels of profitability for your firm. You may struggle with this by doubting your ‘deservability’ factor hearing a little voice in your head shouting ‘Who do you think you are?!?!?”

That doubt will cause you to leave money on the table. Your niche clarity will make you appeal to people who are ready to work with you. When you understand their issues and have solutions for their problems, THEY will place a high value on your work and happily pay you for it.

3. A business plan to monetize the first two
Many a business owner, even those who know who they are and what they’re worth, have floundered because they lack insight on what it takes to take a product or service to market. Let’s face it, you have to do some sort of marketing in order to gain the visibility you need to land clients. They won’t just fall in your lap becuase you’re a good person. You must have a proactive plan that includes goals and action steps to achieve them. The Bamboo Approach to Lush Business Growth lays out a framework to making your mark on the world.

Once you have these three elements in place, the world becomes your oyster. Life and business success become attainable. For those of you who are ready to take a significant leap on any of these 3 elements, visit emeraldharvest.com/vipday.htm or apply for a Profit Proliferation strategy session with me at emeraldharvest.com/profitapplication.htm.

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