It’s that time of year again. New Year is imminent, Christmas is just around the corner, and most of us are taking a moment to look back on the year we’ve just had, and plan for the year to come.
I don’t know about you, but around this time every year I find myself asking one really simple question:
Am I happy with my business growth this year?
I’m all about the Growth Hacking, so if the answer is ‘Yes! Absolutely!’, I pat myself on the back and ask, “Right, what’s next?”
But if the answer is, “No! I could have done better!”, then I take a moment to brood before asking, “So, what went wrong, and how do I make next year better?”
Most entrepreneurs go through a similar conversation with themselves around New Year, and we’re usually fairly good at judging our successes, because the year before we set ourselves some goals.
If we achieved those goals, we’re doing great and it’s time to set some new ones. But if we haven’t hit them, it’s often a frustrating, disappointing, and slightly painful end to the year.
And nobody wants that!
Why We’re All Goal Getters
Entrepreneurs are dreamers. Our dreaming nature is the gift that allows us to turn an idea into a viable business, and it’s vital to your business growth to keep dreaming.
Let’s face it, entrepreneurs are goal getters.
When we first start out our biggest dream is often just getting things off the ground; we dream of starting.
Next we dream of reaching a point where it’s not such a huge struggle; we dream of a steady income.
But once we achieve an equilibrium, where there’s enough money coming in to cover the bills and sustain the business, and a little more to fund a few treats, space opens up for the really big dreams.
We all have them.
Maybe you want to achieve the coveted status of Million Dollar Business Owner, or become a New York Times Bestseller. Perhaps the dream is creating a wildly successful business you can sell on for a profit (something I’ve dreamed, and achieved, several times!).
You might want to create a business that brings in big bucks in passive income, while you work three hours a week, and spend the rest of the time with your kids, or traveling, or lying on a beach with a few Palomas.
The big dreams are the game changers, the ones that aren’t just a dream, but The Dream.
Yet there’s a fine line between dreaming great things, and shooting for the unattainable.
It’s not enough to set those goals, if you don’t actually hit them, you’re no closer to realising your big dreams. So how exactly do you ensure you achieve your big business dreams?
The Cornfield Paradox Is Killing Your Goals
There’s a common misconception in business, and particularly digital marketing, that goes like this:
“If you build it, they will come.”
The odds are, if you didn’t hit your goals, or move significantly closer to your dreams this year, it’s because of this quote, and The Cornfield Paradox (so-called after the cornfield in the film Field of Dreams, and the fact nothing good ever happens in a cornfield!).
Blogging is a great example of The Cornfield Paradox in action. If you’re blogging your heart out, publishing once a week, writing great posts, and being really consistent, it’s easy to expect traffic to just show up.
For your business to spontaneously take off.
You’ve built your blog, now your ideal clients will flock to you in droves.
That’s how it works, right?
You’re not wrong. Blogging is phenomenally powerful. But traffic doesn’t happen spontaneously.
You have to promote your blog posts in order to get them found.
The simple fact of their existence isn’t enough!
- Effective SEO for every single blog post
- Social media marketing campaigns
- And (if you have the money to spend) advertising
Goals are another element of business to fall victim to The Cornfield Paradox.
Writing down your goals significantly increases your chances of achieving them. If you’re one of the millions to buy a business planner every December/January, you’ve probably experienced the paradox at some point.
You meticulously planned your goals, but you didn’t put any tangible steps into action to make them a reality.
We’re all guilty of expecting the good stuff to just show up, simple because we asked for it. Christmas is built on that very premise; if we’re good all year, Santa brings us presents.
If we’re good entrepreneurs, diligently writing down our goals and filling in our planners every year, our dreams will just happen.
Alas, it’s not so simple…
Big Business Dreams Are SMART
Achieving your really big dreams requires work. If it didn’t, everyone would already have everything they ever dreamed of! That’s not to say they’re out of reach, simply that you need to be SMART about achieving them. Yes, you’ll have to strive a bit to reach them, and the bigger they are, the harder it will be. But as long as you have a realistic understanding of what they will take, and how they can be achieved, the only thing standing in your way is yourself.
And you really want this, right?
Fortunately there’s a really easy solution.
When you’re setting your big business goals, make sure you also plan them! How exactly are you going to make this happen?
Use the handy SMART acronym to help you remember the five most important things to bear in mind when you’re planning your dreams:
Make sure you are as specific as possible about your goals. That doesn’t mean there’s no flexibility for changing them in the future, simply that you need to know exactly what you’re aiming for. Define your goal, paint a really detailed picture of that dream and make sure you completely understand what you’re shooting for.
Now you know exactly what you’re aiming for, put a number on it and make sure it’s measurable. Exactly how much more money do you want to earn next year? How many more people do you want on your list every month? Numbers are vital to business success, and an effective means of measuring your goals is the only way you will ever know if you’ve reached them!
When you have a huge dream you generally want it right now. Or at least, really soon. But just as it’s important to define exactly what your goal is, it’s just as important to make sure it’s a realistic target for the time frame you’ve set.
The best example of this is weight loss. It’s a huge goal a lot of people set every new near, and if you only have a few lbs to lose, you’ll probably do it. But if you have 200 lbs of excess weight, you’re not going to shift it all in a year.
Even if you could, you shouldn’t, because it would be very unhealthy and probably wouldn’t be sustainable.
Growing your business is like losing weight in reverse – if you do too much, too fast, you don’t have the systems in place to support it, and you can’t sustain it.
Most goals can be broken down into natural steps. Think of it like a ladder. If you climb it gradually, and a rung unexpectedly snaps, you’re going to land safely on the rung below. It’s a bit of a jolt, but you’re not hurt, and the next rung up is still within reach when you’re ready to carry on.
But if there are only a couple of rungs on the ladder, and they’re all at the top, the only way to reach them is with a huge leap up. You might miss completely, or you might land safely only for the rung to snap when you take the next step up.
With nothing beneath you, that’s a long hard fall. Slow and steady is the way to go.
Just where is achieving this goal going to get you? How relevant is your dream? This is a question we often don’t ask ourselves, but it’s really important.
What are the current market conditions in your niche? What are the economic conditions at present? What’s happening with your competition? And will achieving it genuinely move your business forward to where you want to be?
Is there something else that might not inspire you quite so much, but will get you closer to a place you need to be? A place that would make your truly inspirational, massive dreamer, a lot easier to achieve.
Putting a clock on your dreams is scary. You may not quite feel ready to achieve them, or worry what will happen if that clock runs out before you hit them. But without a time-frame, a deadline, your dreams are just intentions, aimlessly floating around in your head.
You need to actively nurture your dreams in order to consistently grow your business, and compound your success year after year.
Is there a specific time you need to achieve your goal by? Even if there’s no practical reason to achieve a goal by a set time it’s a great idea to give it a timeline.
Remember this needs to be realistic!
Having a specific date in mind will motivate you and help keep you on track. Break it down even further and create mini-goals. If you’re aiming to increase your list by 1000 followers next year, try for 100 new followers in a month first. You might not do it in your first month, but by your second you’ll probably have nailed it.
You get a small victory for hitting that mini-goal, and if you consistently hit it every month for the rest of the year you will absolutely smash you true goal.
How To Achieve Your Big Business Dreams
Once you have set your goals the most important thing to do is act on them. Here are a few quick steps to keep you actioning those goals in a productive way:
- Start with an uber list of your business goals. These will include long-term and short-term goals, all of them realistic and achievable, as well as ultimate dreams that you can’t currently see ever happening. You can go as big as you like with this list, so let your imagination run riot. Where do you want your business to be five years from now, or ten?
- Now narrow down that list by eliminating any that aren’t SMART (at least not for the moment). You should end up with a short list of achievable goals.
- Prioritise that short list – what will be your #1 focus. By focusing on one goal at a time you will maximise your chances of achieving it.
- Plan out your top priority in minute and strategic detail. Break it down into mini goals that are easily achieved.
- Get that list of bite-sized goals into the most logical order possible. What’s going to be the easiest/fastest thing to do right now? What can’t be done until other things on the list have already been achieved?
- Take action – start with the first thing on that list and focus on it until it’s completely done. When it is, move on to the next mini-goal. Keep plugging away at each part until you reach the end of the list!
Great Business Goals To Set For 2018 (And How To Achieve Them!)
If you’ve got big dreams for your business next year but you’re not quite sure which goals will help you get there, here’s a little inspiration…
#1 Double Your Email List
This was one of my goals for 2017 and I achieved it in just one month, with an absolutely killer content marketing strategy. Since September I’ve been focusing on publishing regular, consistent, and extremely high-quality content on a weekly basis.
Every week I publish a value-rich post (like this one!) of around 2500 words. They have been very carefully targeted at my ideal client (that’s you!) and aligned with my business goals. That not only included the goal to build me list, but other goals I had for the year, like launching my Drive program.
If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know these posts have been coming out like clockwork, and a lot of them include content upgrades – an optin offer that gives you chance to get even more amazing content, in exchange for signing up to my list.
Blog posts + content upgrades = massive list growth!
See for yourself:
#2 Increase Your Website Traffic
Three things make all the difference when it comes to website traffic:
- Effective SEO.
- Amazing and consistent content.
- Prolific sharing of that content.
If you have a budget for paid advertising that can also be a super-effective strategy to use, but if you don’t want to pay for ads, you can create an astonishing amount of organic traffic simply by creating consistent, regular content, that is effectively optimised for search terms your ideal clients are using, and sharing that content as much as possible through free social media marketing, networking, and email marketing.
The same strategy that doubled my list in the first month also boosted my website traffic by over 156%.
Increasing your traffic is a totally doable goal that will net you tangible results in terms of conversions!
#3 Increasing Your Income
Whether you’re shooting for that elusive $100K mark this year, or are ready to really step it up and hit seven figures, boosting your income this is one of the most natural goals to have in business no matter how much you earn.
It’s also the one that a lot of people get wrong, because you need to have a clear plan for how you’re going to hit that target.
When you’re putting a figure on your income goal, ask yourself these questions:
- How much do you charge for your services?
- How many new clients would you need to sign and retain in order to hit your money goal?
- Are you capable of serving that many clients?
- If not, how can you augment your income with additional revenue streams that aren’t limited by time?
#4 Raise Your Prices
Another great goal to set for the coming year is to raise your prices. This can really help with any income goals you may have, and as you develop and grow in your skills and experience, it’s a reasonable thing to do.
If you’re a coach, or offer another form of high-end service, it’s particularly important to keep bumping up your prices as you become more effective, and can demonstrate the value of your service with tangible results.
For example, this year my prices have double across the board. In some cases they have more than doubled. In March my special offer for an SEO training session was $30 (a total bargain for those people who took it up!). The normal price for that offer was $97, which increased to $150, and is $220 at the time of writing this.
It’s exactly the same session, but the results I have achieved for my clients have increased the value of the offer, allowing me to raise my prices.
If the thought of raising your prices worries you, just remember:
Sales hinge on perceptions, and higher prices convey the value of your services. Whether consciously or not, people place greater value on things that cost them more!
#5 Launch An eCourse Or Book
Another way to help you hit that income goal is to add some passive income streams to your business. Releasing a book or an eCourse is a great way of doing this, which not only provides you with an extra revenue stream, but also positions you as THE expert in your field.
You may already have one of these, like my fabulous client Ricci-Jane Adams, who released her book this year. But there’s nothing to stop you writing another one! If you have an eCourse, consider releasing a book, and vice versa. If you already have a successful course running, think about creating an advanced or beginner version so you can cater to people at different levels.
If you have a signature service this is the perfect base to use for any passive income products you want to create. It will do wonders for your branding and visibility, while creating tangible brand assets for your business, and boosting your income.
The best part is, if you’re writing really high-quality content consistently and regularly, and have designed an effective content marketing strategy, you will find the material needed to create a book or goals eCourse gets done in no time. Repurpose it, edit it, expand on the most popular or vital sections, and package it up for sale!
Get Your Goals Sorted for 2018
We already know you’re a goal getter – you’re an entrepreneur after all, you wouldn’t have got this far if you weren’t! But 2018 can really be your year to take everything up into the stratosphere! Download my FREE Goal Getter worksheet to plan your BIG business goals for next year, and book a free call to have a chat about getting the same strategies I have used to hit my 2017 goals working for your business next year!