If you are serious about growing your business, increasing your revenue and gaining new clients, you need to make time to reflect on your business journey and set goals for the future.
In this blog, I set out my four-step plan to help you intentionally reflect on your business journey, set ambitious goals for the future, take practical steps to realize those goals and also reflect on what you can learn from the process of setting goals itself.
This blog article is a summary of the related podcast episode.
Why setting intentional goals matters
If you are serious about your business, and about growing it, you need to take time to reflecting what has been happening and what you want to happen in the future. If you did not do this at the start of the year, it is urgent that you do it now. You can use this four-step process that I explain here at any time, and you should use throughout the year.
We often think that we just reflect and set goals at the start of the year and then not think about them too much until the end of the same year. I recommend that you make evaluating and planning a ritual every single month and every single quarter – you need to know where you are and where you want to go!
The best way to reach your goals is to evaluate what is happening regularly so that you can adjust them and be more realistic about what you can achieve and how quickly. Making this part of your life throughout the year is guaranteed to make sure you do not end the year feeling that you did not take control of your business and that you were just passively accepting what happened during the year.
You also need to make sure that you are measuring your progress towards your goals is tomeasure them regularly, track them and evaluate them so that you can adjust them depending on what else is happening around you. As we all experienced in 2020, with the pandemic and lockdowns, it is so important to be agile in your business, to evaluate what is happening and be able to respond and pivot quickly.
If you are intentional about your goal setting, you will be better able to adapt to changing circumstances, whether it’s a global issue like the pandemic or something in your personal life that requires you to make some adjustments so that you can still reach your goals. Being able to adjust and move on, rather than just becoming overwhelmed, can be the difference between a successful entrepreneur and a struggling one.
There is something else we miss out on if we do not think intentionally about our business goals and that is celebrating our successes!
We are so quick to move on to tackling the next challenge or the next goal that we do not take time to think about what we have achieved and what we have learned along the way!
You need to take the time and acknowledge all the progress you are making, not just worry about the things that maybe are not happening the way you want them to or as quickly as you would like!
So now that we know why setting goals and reviewing your progress matters, you can begin to develop goals for your business intentionally.
My four-step plan
I am going to share the four-step plan that I use to set my own goals and that I use to help my clients reflect on their journey and intentionally set their own goals. To support this blog, I’ve created a special free worksheet for you.
And before you go any further, for you to make the best of it, I ask you to go to your calendar right now and schedule a date and at least one hour of your time to reflect on your goals using this worksheet.
Go ahead…Take a second to do it and get back to me. I am waiting for you!
Did you do it? If so, say “done” in the comments below 😉
Alright, let’s get started.
Step 1: Reflect on the past year/past quarter
Before you can even start to think about where you want to go in the future, you need to spend some time evaluating where you have been. What were your biggest achievements in the last year, or the last quarter?
Start by looking at the quantitative elements of your business. I want you to look beyond your revenue and consider all the different elements of your business that you can measure.
For example, how many people signed up to your newsletter? This is probably one of the most important metrics for a portable business. Consider how many people you had at the start of the year and how many you had at the end of it. Take time to celebrate your growth because honestly, growing your mailing list is the key to generate consistent revenue!
Other things you can quantify and use to evaluate your business progress are the number of clients, the number of business partners, the number of people in your network. Look at all the numbers you can measure in your business. Write them down! And then intentionally do something to celebrate the progress you have already made.
It is so important to have a picture of where your business was before you started this year, this month or this quarter versus where your business is now.
If you are just starting out, your big progress might be launching your website, introducing a newsletter or whatever small steps you are taking forward.
Once you have reflected on your quantitative achievements, take some time to think about other elements of your business. Think about things like your professional growth, your personal development and what you have learned. There can be big achievements in these areas because growing a business is an amazing spiritual experience. Acknowledge and celebrate the skills you have gained and the lessons you have learned.
It is vital that you don’t skip this time of reflection and assessment. If you are struggling to do it alone, you can perhaps ask a friend or a business peer to sit down with you and help you go through it. If your business has developed enough for you to have a team, involve them in this process so that you can reflect on what you are achieving together.
While you definitely need to celebrate your achievements, you also need to look honestly at what didn’t work. Do not let your emotions guide you, be very factual about this. Look at these challenges as opportunities to grow. Once you have looked at what did not work, think about what you might have done differently, perhaps if you were warned about the challenges or difficulties. What would you go back and change about what you did if you could? And what could you do in the future to minimize the impact of similar challenges? Also, how did you grow from dealing with these challenges? What did you learn? There can be a lot of positive things that you can take away from the challenges you have faced over the last year if you look at them in this way.
Now that you have taken time to reflect on these things, we need to think about revenue.
If you are not already tracking your revenue on a monthly basis, you need to start now!
I have seen so many entrepreneurs, particularly in the early days, not track where their money is going and where it is coming from. There are lots of different accounting applications and services around the world, but whatever you use and how ever you do it, please sit down every month and take time to go through what is happening with your revenue.
Even if you are not yet making money, track the investments you are making in your education, training and marketing tools. Whatever stage you are at, you need to see how your expenditure is evolving.
You also want to look at your revenue – if you have different products or services, you need to understand which is generating the most revenue for you, what is working and what is not. Evaluate the percentage of your revenue each product/service creates for your business. This is crucial in helping you be strategic about where you put your energy and focus in the future.
Step 2: Planning the coming year/quarter
Once you have reflected on your achievements over the last year, quarter or month, it is time to start planning for the future.
I want you to start by dreaming big. Think of all the amazing things that could possibly happen for you and your business. Don’t let anyone or anything put limits on your potential achievement. This may sound a little crazy but I promise you that when you visualize your biggest dream, verbalize it, write it down and share it with others, you will start to make progress towards turning those dreams into reality. So please, give yourself permission to dream big! Don’t be afraid to set big goals because you fear disappointment. It is so much more effective to be ambitious and then worry about how to get there than it is to put limits on your own potential. Let your heart, your spirit and your mind speak for you. You may not achieve all of it but if you shoot for the moon, you will land in the stars!
Once you’ve got your big, bold vision of success, it is time to start setting tangible, measurable goals. For example, increasing the number of people who subscribe to your newsletter. Building your mailing list is the number one goal that every portable business should be setting because so much of your potential growth depends on it.
You can then add other quantitative measures, for example, the number of speaking engagements you are going to get, the number of features in the media and so on. Do not go straight to setting revenue goals. Take time to write down measurable goals for all the things that will drive your revenue growth too.
Here is a great example from my experience. As one of my very first jobs, I used to sell books door to door and I learned so much from it. One of the biggest lessons was that I would not achieve my sales goal by focusing on the money. The only thing I could control was the number of doors I knocked on. The sales were just a consequence of that. So the more doors that I knocked on, the more chances statistically I had to convert them to sales and reach my revenue goals. For you, your doors are your newsletter subscribers!
Now, think about other strategic goals for your business. You might want to rebrand, work on your copywriting or develop new skills to allow you to take your business to the next level. Integrate all of these things into your goals.
You then need to spend a little time thinking about what challenges could stop you from achieving these goals. Think about the skills and resources you need to achieve each goal and whether you have those in place. This is a good time to look back at what you learned when you reflected on your achievements and challenges of the last year, or quarter or month. Don’t forget to apply the lessons that you learned to setting your goals for the future.
Step 3: Planning your goals in your calendar
It is time to start planning the implementation of your goals. This is all about breaking them down into smaller steps.
Start by looking at each month in your calendar. What little steps can you take each month towards turning your goals into reality? For example if your big goal is to add 1,000 subscribers to your newsletter mailing list, then you want to break that down into certain numbers per quarter and per month. Bear in mind that this doesn’t always have to equally divided. Think about your strategy – how are you going to gain those 1,000 new subscribers? You might say that you will do something to grow your mailing list by 10% in the first quarter and 20% in the second. You need to reflect on your strategy and how that translates into implementation.
Here is another example from my door-to-door sales experience. For me to reach my goals, I needed to make three sales a day. To secure three sales a day I needed 30 doors to open when I knocked each day. Since not everyone answered their door to me, I had to knock on 90 doors to reach that goal, which based on the number of hours I worked each day, meant knocking on 10 doors an hour. So, my focus every hour was to knock on those 10 doors. The same concept applies to your business goals throughout the year. Focus on the small, tangible steps that you need to take to achieve your goals. It will make the task less overwhelming and more manageable.
You also need to think about the key dates in your calendar that you need to build your business plans around. If you want to launch a new product, then choose the launch date first and work back to schedule all the actions that will be necessary to launch successfully on that date.
Think about your personal life too. You want to consider vacations, the kids’ holidays and other things that are important in your personal life that you want to set aside time for – you need to acknowledge these and take them into account when you are scheduling your goals in your calendar. It is important to then take time to really look at your calendar and schedule your business around it.
If you are reading this at the beginning of the year, start by looking at the first quarter and building your goals for that quarter. Then break it down further for January, February and March. Then build your goals for the following three quarters. You don’t have to break it down by month for these later quarters now, you can do that as you finish each quarter and plan for the next one. If you are reading this at any other time, start with the quarter you are in and go from there, following the same approach. Setting quarterly goals makes this process less overwhelming and it also gives you a little more opportunity to adjust and change things. Life can be very uncertain as an expat and we don’t always know what will happen or when!
Once you have all your first quarterly and monthly goals written into your calendar, you need to create a daily or weekly ritual to manage your calendar. You need a regular ritual goal to evaluate how you are doing in your business. If you see that you are struggling to achieve a goal, reflect on why that is and then give yourself permission to adjust the goal. Don’t just give up on your big dream or feel discouraged because things aren’t working as you planned. Sit back and think about why this is happening and then adapt accordingly.
And if you’re achieving your goal much more quickly than you thought, then go ahead and increase your numbers and go for it! It is so important to intentionally review your progress and evaluate your goals every month. In fact, I would recommend that you do it every week so that you can see what you are doing day to day to achieve your goals. I have a planning resource that I use and recommend that helps me plan my time and to set my three top goals for every single day.
Step 4: Reflect on the process
You have set your goals for the next quarter and broken them down into weekly goals. Now its time to reflect on the process you have just completed. The reason that this step is so important is that it helps you think about where you might struggle and to find the resources to help you succeed.
During the process of developing your goals, you might have had a goal you wanted to achieve this year but not had any idea how to achieve it. It is important to acknowledge and take notice of this struggle. It is a sign that this is an area where you need help – it is not a sign to not set that goal! You will be able to achieve all your goals on your own and this is why it is so important to build that community of support, peers and experts to help you. Your community can also hold you accountable for doing to the work you need to do to achieve your goals. I have a whole episode on how you can do this including recommendations for experts to help you.
So let’s make taking time to reflect on our goals a priority this year. If you have not already done it, schedule time in your calendar now to intentionally reflect and download my free workbook to help you work through this four-step process. I promise you that you see results and a shift in your business. I can’t wait to hear how this process helps you!