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Two Essential Components of Achievable Goals

Jun 19, 2008
In my article "The ONE Thing Your Professional Services Business MUST Have" we talked about the importance of clear, specific, time-linked goals to your professional service business. I hope that many of our readers have taken some time to develop goals for their business following the guidelines in that article. However, we finished by acknowledging that some have become 'scarred' by previous experiences of setting goals and then being disappointed at not achieving them. The question we posed then was: Are the goals to blame?

I'm sure most of you didn't need to wait for me to tell you that the answer is NO! Goals may be a key foundations step to achieving business success, but they are by no means the ONLY thing your business needs! Having goals is no guarantee of success, as those scarred ones found to their cost. Why is that?

Have you noticed that goals are somewhat similar in essence to dreams? My eldest brother puts it this way: "There's a fine line between having a vision and hallucinating". Now if there's one thing that characterises dreams and hallucinations, it's that they most often do NOT become reality! (We're glad of that when Pink Elephants come past on Unicycles!) If our goals are indistinguishable from our dreams, can it be any surprise that we don't achieve them?

So how do we ensure that our goals become reality? There are two key requirements to which we must give attention:

Have a Roadmap to Your Goals

You will come across a school of thought in self-help literature that suggests you need do nothing to foster your goals. 'Just dream it' goes the logic, 'and your marvelous brain will go to work to move you closer to what you dream of'. Now, if your financial advisor told you that he was taking that type of approach to growing your investments, how happy would you be? Me either! And it won't work for your business - taking my word for it will save you a ton of heartache.

Let's go back to the scenario we used in the article "The ONE Thing Your Professional Services Business MUST Have" - we were driving on the M3 hoping to get to Heathrow Airport to catch a flight. Did we have to give some thought to how we would achieve that goal? Of course we did! If we had never made the journey before would we leave the route to chance? Or would we make sure that we had the map-book dog-eared at the right page and the route penciled-in? (Okay, okay - I'm showing my age! We'd have printed out the AA-recommended route and made sure that we understood it.) Then as we approached each intersection, wouldn't we refer back to that map to check that we were about to make the correct turn?

Revenue and sales targets form your business roadmap. Do you have a revenue target for this quarter? Equally important, do you understand how many sales you need to close in order to achieve that revenue target? Any longer than three months, and your 'map' doesn't show the key intersections. I don't need to tell you how dangerous a map that doesn't show the route in sufficient detail is, I'm sure!

To force our analogy just a little further, your 'driving the route' is accomplished by implementing marketing strategies which lead to sales, and each quarter the number of sales closed will be compared to your 'business roadmap' to measure progress. Not enough sales and you run the risk of reaching the airport late for your flight. If you realise that early enough you can decide to drive the next leg of the route a little faster to make up time, but if you're not monitoring progress how would you know?

Your goals would be slowly, imperceptibly fading into dreams - leaving behind nothing but scars.

Have the Tools You Need

So let's assume that we have the route to our goals mapped out. Is that it? Well, would a roadmap be much good to us if we had an empty fuel-tank? Or perhaps didn't have a car? What if we didn't know how to drive? Nope, the roadmap's not the end of the story.

In broad terms we could say that the next step is to understand what resources we need to accomplish our purpose. Here's where we entrepreneurs realise how different running a business is from working for someone! Suddenly we come face-to-face with how little we know about things like marketing, customer service, brand-building, business management and so on. How can we close the gap?

There are essentially three options when it comes to resourcing our business plans: Ignore it, outsource it or learn it.

Ignoring it is not usually recommended, but don't forget that it is an option! Sometimes I come across well-meaning entrepreneurs who follow every trend in management slavishly, burning time and effort in pointless pursuits. If only they realised that they could just have ignored the trend! Focus on what is necessary to progress your business, and ignore the rest.

Outsourcing is vital, because each of us has only two hands. Remember, though, that outsourcing is not an excuse for abdication. You are responsible for the success of your business - and that can never be outsourced! We'll explore the appropriateness and the value of outsourcing in a future article.

How sad that in a world awash with education, learning seems to be a sadly neglected skill. Entrepreneurs have (in my humble opinion) an obligation to be lifelong learners, and it's made so easy for us! Each of us can get what I like to call a 'Weekend MBA' simply by reading a carefully-selected book written by an expert in the field - every weekend! Similarly, coaching and mentoring under the care of acknowledged industry leaders can unleash more power than a nuclear reactor - right in our own backyard!

In summary, take the time and effort to give your goals wings. Plan the route to success, then make sure you have what it takes to complete the journey. And don't forget to have fun!

David Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008.

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About the Author
David Deakin, CEO of Zee2A, works with Professional Services Executives yearning to take their business to the next level. Through one-on-one mentoring he helps them create sustainable marketing strategies that attract more clients at profitable rates. To learn more, sign up for his e-zine, or enquire please visit www.zee2A.com.
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