Know what you want to do

If you want to be successful and build your business, you need to know what you’re trying to exclamation pointaccomplish.  The simple fact is, you need to have a defined goal in order to be successful.  We have all read the research and heard the studies that prove, people with written goals are significantly more likely to achieve them than those who don’t.  So, that’s where we start.  This is the single most important thing you can do to help yourself build your business.

It’s like building a house – if you don’t have a vision of what the house will look like, if you don’t have the construction plans for how to build the house – all you have is a big pile wood and nails.  But if you know what the house looks like….then you can build it.  Same with your business.

Here are some examples of business objectives you might be considering:
→    Get more repeat business?
→    Increase your referral business?
→    Charge higher fees?
→    Launch new product or service offering?
→    Generate passive revenue?

Be honest with yourself on this one – your business goals need to be specific and have some time element built in.  For example, Increase my referral business by 25% in Q1.  OR Increase my average fees by 25% by Q2.

More often than not, when I ask business owners what their business goals are they say 1 of 2 things:  1)  be profitable or 2) drive traffic to my website.  These aren’t business objective.  Being profitable is the reason for existence of a business – the question is how profitable, by when.   Be specific so you know if you have been successful.  Driving traffic to your website is the goal for a marketing campaign, not your business objective. So what if you increase traffic to your website using social media?  What do you do with it?  Do you track sales leads?  Do you get affiliate fees?  Do you convert it to sales?

Once you know your objective, write it down.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Hand written notes on a piece of paper is fine.  I have my business objectives taped to the wall above my desk.  I look at it everyday.  It keeps me focused and helps me make decisions when I’m prioritizing my time, my investments, my energy.

Planners, Doers and Social Media

After much observation and questioning, I have come to classify people into two groups: Planners and Doers. This may seem a stereotype, and it probably is, but bear with me.  Most people I talk to can definitely place themselves into either one camp or the other.

Let’s start with The Planners: You know these folks. They think, analyze, request more data and then reassess their assessment. Then something changes – Oh no! After a moment of panic and deep breathing, they get to work evaluating their contingencies and updating the plan.  These folks plan and plan and plan but actually don’t accomplish very much. Planners are important and we need them. Without them the Doers would be running around like chickens with their heads cut off! Remember the hit series Friends? The character Monica, played by Courtney Cox, was the epitome of a Planner. She had her life planned out from the time she was 12 years old. Not only did she plan her life, but her friends’ lives as well. Everyone loved Monica because she was practical and you could always count on her to “have a plan.”

Now let’s look at The Doers: These folks, on the other hand, must be doing something. Anything. It doesn’t matter what they do as long as they are “moving the needle” and “making progress.” Because of their energy, others jump on the bandwagon and everyone starts doing things. The issue is whether the Doers are doing the right things. Back to the Friends example – Phoebe, as opposed to Monica was the quintessential Doer. She did whatever came to mind, whenever it came to mind. Everyone loved Phoebe because she was spontaneous and full of energy.

The point is, when it’s your business, you need to be both a Planner and a Doer.  You get to walk the tightrope between both.  And that’s the biggest challenge – balancing between strategy and tactics, planning and doing.  When we talk about social media most of the discussion is centered on whether you have a FaceBook page, a fan page or a Twitter account.  I’m here to tell you that it almost doesn’t matter.

How do you know if you need a FaceBook page or a LinkedIn profile or FriendFeed if you haven’t decided what your ultimate goal is?  If we don’t start there, you will waste a lot of time and energy focusing on the wrong things – things that don’t support your goals, or things you simply can’t, or shouldn’t execute.

Seth’s at it again (thank goodness)

I admit it. I’m a Seth Godin fan. He’s a really smart guy, who doesn’t take himself too seriously, who is willing to take chances and take credit whether it works or not. He’s the kind of person I’d like to chat with at a cocktail party – although I hate cocktail parties.

Seth’s latest endeavor is a creative little e-book called “What Matters Now“. He is giving it away; asking people to email it to friends, post it on their blogs and tweet about it. I’m doing all three.

The idea is to ask yourself what matters to you, and then make plans to think about and do things that matter throughout the year. Seth asked a group of well-known individuals, big thinkers and generally cool people to tell him “what matters now” to them. The e-book is a collection of their thoughts. PLUS, it is a brilliant marketing device, of course. Many of the contributors have books coming out in 2010. This gives them an opportunity to promote their new works in an unassuming way. PLUS, there are well placed statements, I hesitate to call them ads, for a very worthy group called “Room to Read”.

So in a nutshell, Seth has given us a tons of great ideas to think about, allowed people to promote themselves and their works, and given visibility to a worthy cause. We should all aim so high.