When I’m feeling cheeky, I will admit to having retired two husbands with my business.
My first marriage ended (it’s better for everyone involved). And my second, well, okay…
Technically, we’re not married. But we own a house together, pay the bills together, and he survived about 25,000 miles of travel with me in one 12-month period. So, give me a pass on the shorthand.
Now, a few months after I retired my first husband and hit the biggest revenue goal I could imagine at the time, I started looking for a new goal.
I felt rudderless without a challenge to work toward.
I asked everyone: How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?
How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?
Now, I realize that sounds like a really quality problem to have–and it is.
But there’s more to it than meets the eye.
You can’t create what you can’t see.
When you’re a student or working in a corporate career, your goals are based on what’s in front of you, what you’re exposed to.
You eye the scholarship. You fantasize about the acceptance letter. You want the promotion. You look for a raise.
You can see yourself attaining any of those things because they’re right in front of you. You see people achieving them and know they’re possible. They might be a dream, but they’re dreams you can see yourself living.
With business, it’s often very different.
I didn’t know I could dream of running a million-dollar company. I didn’t know I could dream of hiring a team of fabulous employees. I didn’t know I could dream of speaking on stage in front of hundreds or thousands.
Before I was connected to people who were dreaming those kinds of dreams and–more importantly–working those kinds of plans, I didn’t have a clue about my potential as an entrepreneur.
Every step of growth my business has taken has been a direct result of my connection to someone or something that allowed me to finally visualize a bigger goal or challenge.
When I retired my first husband, I didn’t know how to think beyond, “I want to make $100,000 per year and retire my husband.”
I had no close relationships with people who had achieved that.
When it came to ambitious colleagues and friends who took their businesses as seriously as I did, my well was damp at best.
As a result, my business suffered from my lack of vision and creativity. It kept growing but not at the pace it could have.
I worked harder instead of smarter.
I pushed for incremental successes instead of exponential steps forward and new ways of creating value.
Now, you might be thinking, “Tara, I haven’t hit the goal I’m working on right now. How can you expect me to look beyond that?”
Here’s why I expect you to–and why I believe you must:
The action you take is dictated–consciously or unconsciously–by your vision and goals.
Try this thought experiment.
What would you have to do differently to reach your goal for 2017 in the next 6 weeks, without working more in your business?
Your first reaction might be panic. But your second might be a pretty creative way to reorganize your business and your time to achieve more, at a faster pace, than you originally let yourself plan for.
That’s why you need to be connected to people who push you, challenge you, and take their businesses as seriously as you take yours.
Those connections help you take dramatic steps forward in your business–starting with the way you spend your time and the action you take right now.
They help you get creative about how you’ll achieve your goals and see new possibilities all around you.
The decisions I make and actions I take today are based on the vision that I can now see myself living, and that vision was inspired by the possibility I’ve glimpsed in the lives of people I know.
It’s such a relief to make big decisions with ease and take action that supports those decisions.
And, it’s all thanks to the ambitious and open business owners I’m connected to on a daily basis. They’ve helped me dream bigger dreams and take different action.
On Monday, I’m going to share with you how a completely different kind of connection–with people who have businesses wholly different than my own–helped to dramatically transform my vision for my business.
Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek of what we’ve created for you to solve this problem.
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The Nitty Gritty:
- How the founder of DailyWorth and author of Worth It uses a two-prong approach to set financial goals that are ambitious.
- Why failure is an opportunity for learning and growth and you shouldn’t be afraid of it.
- How you view your identity and feelings of self-worth impact your ability to create financial goals that get you to the life you desire.
- How having a little “Steve Jobs” in you isn’t a bad thing. Just ask Amanda who established the roots that gave her wings!
It’s easy to assume that Amanda Steinberg, the founder and CEO of DailyWorth, the leading financial media company for women, and author of Worth It, has super powers when it comes to setting business and personal financial goals. But in this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast she shares with us that while there were times when she appeared to outsiders to have it all together—$200K annual salary, $700K home—she wasn’t experiencing the “exhilaration of affluence.” So, she reset and can now teach you what she learned.
Two Approaches to Setting Financial Goals
It’s not about the speed of our growth, but about the unit economics. That’s what investors want to see. How much do we have to spend to acquire one customer? What is our profit margin on that customer? That’s actually more important for me to master and perfect…
– Amanda Steinberg
Whenever Amanda is setting financial goals there are two strategies she always takes to planning: a top-down and bottom-up approach. In top-down planning you look at your entire market and assume there are no limits on your marketing, capital, and talent resources. Once you have a framework for the possibilities, you bring it back down to earth to assess the possibilities through the realities you have. How many people are on your team. What you know about your sales ability. What capital you have.
You find a number that is both really ambitious and realistic relative to your resources.
– Amanda Steinberg
Battle the Imposter Complex when Setting Financial Goals
Oftentimes entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, struggle with self-worth when setting financial goals. We don’t set an audacious goal, because it feels like it’s bigger than what we can do. We worry about how we will be perceived—too aggressive, “She has a lot of Steve Jobs in her, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing,” (how Amanda was described once), or a failure if we don’t achieve the goal. Amanda learned something as a video-game playing kid that she suggests you employ as an adult when you fail:
“Treat it like a game. Then failure doesn’t feel like a reflection on you it’s just a normal part of the learning process.”
Set goals that feel a bit uncomfortable to you. In her book Worth It, Amanda explores the Good Girl to Lady Boss transition women are in the midst of and explains how to facilitate your own identity transition to create your life and your money on your terms.
Learn more about Amanda’s journey and what you can do to create more financial security in your life by establishing three crucial roots that then give you the wings to live the life you desire.
We’ll be back next week with another inspiring entrepreneur, but in the meantime, don’t forget to subscribe to the Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast on iTunes so you never miss an episode.
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Transcript, edited for readability:
Over the course of this year, I’ve noticed something happening with a lot of small business owners like you. Even I haven’t been immune from this problem as my business has grown and grown.
That problem… is overcomplicating things on the path to success.
This problem shows up in a lot of different ways:
You might be stuck in analysis paralysis… not sure which way to go.
You might feel spread thin… trying to do a little bit of everything to figure out what is going to stick.
You might be nearing burn out and just trying to keep it together.
Or, you might be excitedly planning for the next phase of your business and oblivious to how difficult you’re making things for yourself.
There are 2 main reasons this problem crops up in the first place:
1) You work forwards instead of backward.
You’ve got a new goal and you’re ready to build on the success you’ve already had (whether that’s the decision to start your business in the first place or a long track record of making things happen). You start with what you’ve already got and look to add on to that.
And you add and add until your goal is in sight.
That’s working forwards. And it makes sense… but…
When you word forwards toward your goal, you layer idea on top of idea, or solution on top of solution.
You say, “I’ll work with 10 private coaching clients. Then I need to sell 100 courses. Then I’ll sell 500 books.”
You just keep adding things on until you reach your goal.
This creates a complicated and nearly impossible-to-follow plan.
When you work backward, you start with a goal and ask yourself, “What’s the fastest, simplest way I could reach my goal?”
You might discover that it’s by simply taking on 15 private coaching clients with a 50% price increase, which people will happily pay because your attention isn’t divided between them and trying to make your complicated plan happen.
Or, you might discover that it’s by simply selling 200 courses and putting all your attention on making your sales process as effective as possible, something you have time to do because you aren’t also seeing 10 private clients.
That’s not to say that multiple streams of revenue are bad or wrong. It’s just that layer upon layer, complication upon complication, in the service of hitting some far off goal isn’t going to get you where you want to go.
Focus your plan by working backward from what you want to achieve and keep it as simple as possible.
The other reason this problem occurs is:
2) You set incremental goals instead of exponential goals.
And that brings me to a personal story:
When my partner Sean and I moved back to Pennsylvania a year ago, he quit his job to pursue his creative interests including fiction writing.
He’d dabbled in writing for quite some time, working on character development or penning short vignettes, but he’d never devoted himself to it. He couldn’t find the discipline to take a single idea from start to finish.
And he knew that no matter how many days he worked on character development or short vignettes, he wasn’t going to end up with a completed novel until he changed the way he was approaching the whole pursuit.
So he gave himself a massive challenge…
…he decided to tackle NaNoWriMo.
If you’re not familiar, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and it happens every November, right alongside No Shave November (for which he is also a faithful participant). The goal is to write approximately 1650 words every day of the month so that you end the month with a 50,000-word manuscript.
You do it knowing full well that the manuscript will likely be terrible…
…but at least it will be done.
This was going to be a real test: going from a scant 100-200 words per day to 1650 words per day? How could he manage it?
Well, he did. He actually finished early and proudly printed off the entire 50,000+ word manuscript on November 30, 2015.
The reason he accomplished it was simple…
He made structural changes to the way he approached writing. He was no longer just trying to get in some writing 100-200 words at a time, he structured his day around achieving the necessary 1600 words.
It wasn’t a matter of time or hustle. It was a matter of design:
- He stopped writing in a notebook and started writing in a Google Doc.
- He stopped writing at the pub and started writing in an office.
- He stopped putting it off til the end of the day and started prioritizing the action first thing.
- He stopped second-guessing every artistic choice he made and started moving through the plot bit by bit.
These 4 simple changes meant that he octupled his production in largely the same amount of time he was spending on writing before. Not only that, but he actually set a goal and reached it.
He could have forced himself to sit and work on character development and tiny plot points a few more hours a week, hoping that the extra work would eventually see his novel finished.
But that would have never worked.
It’s the same way with your business.
When you set a goal that’s just incrementally higher (maybe 10%, 20%, or even 50%), your brain automatically thinks that doing more will get you there. You’ll add photographing one more wedding to your schedule, you’ll work harder at building your list, you’ll pump out 2 more websites, you’ll sell a few more courses…
How long will you be able to keep that up?
How tired are you already?
The only way past this is to set a goal so much higher than what you’ve done before that you’re forced to consider an entirely new way of doing things, just like Sean.
You stop adding more clients, you stop building new content upgrades, you stop jamming more webinars into your schedule, and you look at the way your business is fundamentally structured.
Then, you can work backward and find the fastest, simplest way to this amazing new goal.
Now, let’s tackle two listener questions and apply this to their situation.
First up is Yvonne Radley.
Yvonne has a niche publicity and coaching practice for fitness and wellness business owners. She’s found success with a small email list but she’s looking to ramp up and break into new markets next year. Her best list-builder to date has been an email challenge she’s been running for 4 years.
So now she wants to know:
“What else can I do to grow my email list and break into new markets?”
Yvonne’s question is one that I’m sure is on a lot of minds for next year.
And our “fastest, simplest way” philosophy is going to come in handy.
First, realize that “list-building” has become a monster as a marketing mantra.
About 2 years ago, once every finally realized they weren’t going to be able to build their businesses with social media alone, the gurus started talking about list-building.
List-building, list-building, list-building.
And… everyone forgot that the goal isn’t to build your list.
The goal is to find the right people to become customers of your business.
You heard me: the goal isn’t to build your list.
Instead, you need to be 100% focused on finding the right people to become customers.
You don’t need to have tens or hundreds of thousands of people on your list to have a million dollar business.
So… what’s the fastest, simplest way to find the right people to become customers of your business?
It sounds like Yvonne already knows: it’s this challenge that she’s been running for 4 years.
I would look for ways to amplify that, to spread that challenge into new segments of her market. And I would do that 2 main ways:
1) By tapping into the people who have already gone through the challenge and asking them to share.
Her existing list is going to be a huge help in growing her audience. Craft a campaign specifically around re-engaging these people and asking them to share the wealth with their friends and family.
At this point, I’d also look for technology that can help to simplify this: a referral system, viral marketing campaign software, etc… She should be rewarding people (even if it’s just with a “thank you” email) as people refer their friends and she should be making it as easy as possible for them to do it.
2) Paid Advertising
When you have something that you know works to turn interested people into buyers, it’s time to invest in advertising and then look for ways to scale the campaign once it’s working. Plus, since Yvonne has her customer defined soooooo well, she’ll be able to target them easily and speak to them directly—which makes any advertising campaign much more effective.
I’d start by advertising some really great content related to the challenge: a video, a blog post, even a few photos. Build general awareness about your brand and the value it provides.
Then, I’d advertise the challenge itself.
You can even run a concurrent ad to the people who have done it in the past asking them to share it with their friends!
Finally, I’d use advertising to ensure the people who are signed up are actually consuming the content you’re sending them and following up on your pitch!
If Yvonne invests all her audience-growing energy into that 2-fold strategy, she should have a great chance at both building her list and finding the right people to buy.
Our second question comes from Michael, who’s just starting his business and wants to know how to set goals.
“As a new business owner, at what interval should I be setting goals and how often should I be reevaluating them?”
At Quiet Power Strategy, we do goal setting a little differently—and you guessed it, one of the big reasons is because I like to simplify and keep things focused.
So I ask clients to choose a Chief Initiative—the main driver of their activity for a period of time, generally 3, 6, or 12 months. That Chief Initiative is the core focus and single goal for that length of time. It’s the 1 thing you want to have created or accomplished in that time frame.
For a new business owner or even an established business owner who is looking to make some big changes, I recommend a 3-month Chief Initiative.
For Michael, that might mean securing 4 client contracts in the first 3 months of next year.
In order to do that, he’ll need to accomplish some supporting things as well. I call these Projects. Your Chief Initiative might have 3 Projects, it might have 10.
Michael will identify each of these Projects, things like completing his website, contacting warm leads, or creating a proposal template. Then, he’ll make a list of the actions he needs to complete for each Project.
Each of those Projects needs to have a definitive milestone or metric associated with them so you can measure their completion.
Finally, Michael should complete a pre-mortem for his Chief Initiative. All that means is brainstorming all the ways his plan could go wrong… and putting new actions or safeguards in his plan to keep those things from happening.
He can then work in 3-month blocks throughout the year to keep the business growing and keep him and Elizabeth feeling focused and productive.
If you’d like to dive deeper into this goal-setting technique and the idea of working backward instead of forwards, check out Episode 47 of Profit Power Pursuit, called Lead Yourself Backwards.
Plus, there’s more good goal-setting advice in Episode 28 Microplanning for Success with Natalie MacNeil and Episode 25 How to Focus & Get Stuff Done with Pam Slim.
That’ll do it for this episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. Remember to keep things simple, work backward, and set exponentially higher goals as you plan for next year.
Next week, I’ll be back with another listener-inspired episode so keep your questions coming! Simply write or record your question and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to include your name, what you do, and where we can find you online so that I can give you a shout out!
If you loved this episode or any of the 60 deep dives we’ve done with successful small business owners over the last year, please subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Is it all glitz?
Lately, I’ve seen a great deal of pushback against the glitzy promises in Facebook ads or webinars about 6 or 7-figure businesses.
People say they don’t need or want to grow a 6 or 7-figure business. They’re tired of the hype. They just want to figure out how to make what they have… work.
When I started my business, I wanted to earn enough to stay home with my daughter and still drink daily iced lattes. My goal? Maybe $500 per month.
As my first year in business progressed and I quickly surpassed my old salary (not a huge accomplishment), it started to dawn on me that I had created a full-time job.
I had to work at least 35-40 hours a week to maintain the work that was now paying bills. It was working but it wasn’t very exciting.
Soon, I was introduced to people who were earning quite a bit more than I was but had similar businesses, similar experience, and similar audiences. “What was the difference?” I thought to myself.
They had a different goal and, because of that, they had designed their businesses to earn 6 or 7-figures instead of 4 or 5.
What’s the difference?
They didn’t get lucky. They weren’t working harder.
They simply designed their businesses to perform differently. And they believed in their ability (and the business’s) to perform to their goals.
I didn’t know this was possible when I started my business. Sometime in my life, I had arbitrarily assigned myself an earning ceiling around $35,000 (band geeks and religion majors don’t generally earn much).
I initially designed my business to hit that number. When I did, I pushed hard to reach a little higher.
Then I realized that if I just redesigned my business a bit, I could easily hit $120k+. So I did. And I did. I’ve been redesigning it to hit bigger goals ever since and I’ve trained my clients to do the same.
That might sound trite and simplistic. But I assure you, it is not.
Honor what you’ve already achieved.
What I see happen so often is that business owners like you beat themselves up when they haven’t hit the “glitzy” numbers that others have advertised. They don’t recognize—and honor—that they’ve achieved what they designed to achieve.
In other words, there’s a very, very good chance that the revenue you’re bringing in right now is the revenue your business is currently designed to bring in.
Pat yourself on the back. Seriously. Most people can’t get anything off the ground, let alone make offers and sell them to customers they’ve courted with their own two hands (and words). You have already achieved greatly.
Between a rock and a hard place?
Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re at where you’d like to be.
In fact, you might find yourself between a rock (a business that’s paying some or all of the bills) and a hard place (big opportunities or goals that seem just out of reach).
It’s not so much that you or your business is underperforming as that you have a huge opportunity to design it to work better and produce more.
You see, your business is working. If you push harder and harder with the business design you have right now, you won’t make it work more for you. You’ll just be working harder at the model designed to produce what you’ve already produced.
Maybe you haven’t felt like you had the time to market your business properly…
Maybe you wonder how everyone else “keeps up with everything…”
Maybe the Impostor Complex reminds you of all those times when you’ve set a goal and haven’t reached it…
These aren’t personal shortcomings. They’re a result of having a business design that doesn’t match your goals. A smart business design creates time, reduces the amount of effort required of you, makes team-building easy, and makes goals reality.
If you’re going to break through to those sought-after outcomes, you need a new business design.
Would you rather push yourself to make a business work that’s designed to earn $75k per year? Or push yourself to make a business work that’s designed to make $250k per year? Or $1m per year?
It’s the same amount of work. But the work is different and the decisions are different–because the design is different.
Time to commit.
This is why it’s important to talk about 6, 7, and 8-figure businesses. If you don’t know how those businesses work, you can’t design a business that performs that way—nor do you have the information you need to make an informed decision about whether you want to build that kind of business or not.
I assure you: if you want to build a 7-figure business, you can. It’s available to you. It might take you time, research, and experimentation to find the right business design to hit that number. But it’s out there and it is yours if you want it.
Right now, you can choose to work hard at a 5-figure business design or you can choose to work hard at a 7-figure business design.
Yes, people use these numbers to wow you and glitzify you–but under all that is a real need to exposure yourself to something different so you can make an informed decision about the business you want to build.
What will you choose?
I truly hope you choose to stop getting by and start getting ahead with a fresh business design. To help, I’ve created a set of free training focused on guiding you through making simple tweaks that allow you to earn more at a more predictable pace.
Register below to get started or click here for more information.
Imagine this scenario: you’re working at a large, busy bookstore. Every day, people pick up books and put them back. Sort of. They never quite end up in the same place and “alphabetical by author” quickly descends into loosely-managed chaos.
Your task today is re-alphabetizing the Fiction & Literature section. It’s a task that takes several hours on a good day.
You set about the job and find satisfaction in not just arranging the books but in also carefully “flushing” the books (pulling them to flush along the edge of the shelf). Each shelf you complete has a certain beauty to it.
An hour into it, you look back over your shoulder. All the work you’ve just completed has been mangled by customers trying to locate the books they want!
You’re frustrated. You “complete” the job. But is it really done if customers have gone and messed it up already? Your satisfaction has dissolved into frustration.
When I was a manager for Borders Books & Music, managing this task (and many like it) was an important part of my job. It was easy to assign people a section of books and tell them to get to it. What was extremely difficult was managing the discontentment that would grow among every single employee as they realized just how futile their work was.
Once I became a business owner and a coach, I realized just how endemic this problem is. It’s not confined to odd retail jobs; it’s not confined to bookstores and libraries; it’s a universal adult experience.
In school, we have certain expectations and benchmarks. You complete your homework, or you don’t. You take the test, or you don’t. You finish the school year, or you don’t. You do what you’re supposed to do and you advance to the next grade. Everything is clear cut, and the consequences of not doing what you’re supposed to be doing are fairly severe.
But in work or our businesses, your actions are rarely tied to clear consequences or benchmarks. You show up, do work that’s assigned to you, and go home. Most of the time, you don’t know how that work is impacting the bottom line or progress towards bigger goals.
You lose faith and focus.
Your growth stagnates.
This is a serious problem.
In all the reader and customer research we’ve done this year (and it’s a lot), this problem has presented itself.
You’ve told us that you don’t know how the work you’re doing today will get you where you want to go.
You’ve told us that, because you lack focus on a particular goal, it makes it difficult for you to decide what’s next.
You’ve told us that there are so many things demanding your attention that you don’t know how to prioritize.
You’ve told us that you understand a lot of things in theory but that you have trouble when it comes to applying things because there’s just so much to do.
Yes, that’s a recipe for frustration. And, it’s also a recipe for the stagnation that leads to throwing in the towel.
The last thing I want for you is to throw in the towel on your business. I want your ideas to find a bigger audience. I want you to up-level your revenue and earning. I want your customers to experience everything you have to offer.
But you’re not going to get there operating the way you have been operating.
So what gives? How did I approach managing expectations and employee satisfaction when faced with endless tasks at a bookstore? How do I approach my own un-ending to-do list and make real progress on my business?
The key is creating benchmarks that allow you to say, “I’m done.”
It sounds simple and it is. But you don’t do it.
You say “I’m going to work on building my course” instead of “I’m going to complete Module 3 by Friday.” You say “I’m going to post more to social media” instead of “I’m going to post 5 times a day to 2 networks, 5 days a week.”
It’s the difference between telling yourself you’re going to train to run some far off race and actually counting the hurdles you clear, one after another.
What’s more: you don’t tie these ineffective action plans to things you really want. Why are you going to complete Module 3 by Friday? Because you’re aiming at a $25k revenue goal on that course that you’re launching in March. Why are you going to post 5 times a day? Because you’re growing your influence by attracting 50% more followers.
The mindset shift you need to make here is that it’s not about doing the work; it’s about overcoming the next obstacle.
You’re the kind of person who wants to see results, know you accomplished something, and raise the bar of excellence. When you’re feeling productive, satisfied, and fulfilled, you’re not just showing up, you’re leaping over hurdles.
What you see in front of you right now is work, not hurdles.
If you want to up your level of satisfaction and intensify your focus, transform your work into hurdles.
The moment you change each task or goal into an obstacle to overcome, you will accomplish more, feel a greater sense of satisfaction, and make measurable progress towards your greater vision.
You’re a problem-solver and a barrier breaker. This is in your wheelhouse.
Here are guidelines for turning your work into hurdles:
1) Start with what you’re working towards overall. Give it a number (dollars, team members, members, etc…). At Quiet Power Strategy™, we call this your Chief Initiative.
2) Then list the projects you’re currently working on to achieve this overall goal. Make sure each is either quantifiable (again: dollars, pitches, subscribers, etc…) or time-bound (has an “by” date).
3) Next, list growth actions for each project. Consider the specific things that need to be done to accomplish each project. None of these actions should begin with “start,” “continue,” “work on,” or any other word that connotes continuation and not completion. If you can’t finish the action in the time given, break it down further.
4) Finally, start tracking your progress. Each and every week, review your Chief Initiative, projects, and growth actions. Take note what of you’ve completed and what standards of action you’ve met. Mark down your progress on the metrics that are important to your goal (subscribers, dollars, members, etc…). Make a plan for the week that takes into account what worked previously and what new things you want to try to create more momentum.
If you follow these 4 steps, I guarantee you’ll make meaningful progress in your business and feel closer to your goals than you ever have before. Your sense of discontentment will start to wain and your sense of fulfillment will grow.
Now, I know most people reading this will not take these actions. Will you?