Happy December! Here we are in the last month of the year and like the two-headed Janus, we’re simultaneously looking backward to count our successes and forward to finish the year strong and decide which goals appear to hold the most promise for seeding a successful 1Q2019 and beyond.
There is traditionally much talk about goal-setting at this time of year and many of us climb aboard the train out of a sense of obligation, or even guilt. But maybe we should first spend some time vetting the goals we choose to pursue? For starters, our goals should be tied to benefits that substantively improve our personal or professional lives.
SMART Goals—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely—are the accomplishments we’d be wise to pursue. SMART Goals are worthy of the planning, money and other resources that we expend to achieve them. We owe it to ourselves to confirm that the goals we choose are within our capacity to reach them and that they will further our agenda to build a fulfilling professional and personal life. Ensure that the goals you choose are right for you.
SPECIFIC Increasing your client list is a worthwhile goal and you’ll have a better chance of achieving it if you define the industry, type, or size of the organizations you’d like to add to your roster. For example, rather than randomly looking to work with larger not-for-profit organizations, specify your mission. You may elect to pursue not-for-profit organizations that have 100 or more employees and/or an annual operating budget of $1,000,000 – $5,000,000.
MEASURABLE Identify metrics and milestones that will monitor your progress and inspire you to continue on your path. The measurements need not be complicated. If you are able to meet with a coveted prospective client, that’s a milestone. The size of your client list, the number of billable hours and the amount of sales revenue from quarter to quarter are also easy-to-follow and relevant metrics, if they document your progress. Just be sure to measure that which demonstrates achievement. The last day of each quarter is a good time to examine and evaluate your milestones and metrics.
ATTAINABLE If earning more money is your goal, give yourself a realistic figure to reach for. If your average monthly sales revenue is $5000, think about how you can add $500 – $1000 /month. Expecting to earn $10,000 /month is probably too steep, unless you have one heck of a competitive advantage or you’re about to sign a very big client who will give you game-changing billable hours.
You may be able to eventually earn an additional $500 – $1000/ month with a savvy new marketing plan that’s combined with other strategies, such as a new client acquisition plan, an exciting new product or service that seems to have good sales potential, or an initiative to win back certain lapsed clients.
RELEVANT Your goals should make sense for your life and business. Keeping up with or surpassing your perceived rivals is not a valid reason to set a particular goal. Acknowledge the objectives behind the goals and be honest about why you want to pursue them.
TIMELY The desire to retire at age 50 is still in fashion, but it will be more realistic to start planning no later than age 40, to give yourself a decade to get in touch with what might make you feel fulfilled in your post-working life and understand how you’ll earn enough to make it possible.
What might retirement mean to you? Maybe it means you’ll leave your traditional job and start a home-based craft making business that will see you selling your wares on Etsy and at local Christmas Village markets. Or perhaps it means you’ll not work and instead devote yourself to volunteering and taking long winter vacations spent on the ski slopes? whatever your choice, you’ll need to plan your retirement money carefully. Should you buy investment property that will give you a steady stream of rental income, or invest more aggressively in the surging stock market?
The process of setting goals for yourself and/or your business enables you to define and recognize what success looks like and means to you. You’ll learn to think strategically about how to grow your business and the resources needed to achieve that growth. You’ll calculate the money needed for an expansion plan or new equipment, make notes for a first draft of the marketing plan you’ll need to devise, consider the relationships you may want to renew or develop and/or estimate the new staff you may need to hire.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up someplace else.” –Peter “Yogi” Berra, former NY Yankees catcher and Baseball Hall of Fame member
Thanks for reading,
Image: Academy Award winning actor (Best Actor El Cid, 1961) Charlton Heston (center) as Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur (1959)