- Posted by Alaia Williams
- On July 9, 2018
Mid year is the perfect time to reevaluate your goals and plans for the year. Often times, business owners take the time to set goals in December or January, motivated by the promise of a new year. By June 30th, the plans have either look the same way as they did when originally set, or they've been completely abandoned.
Of course, if goals and plans have been abandoned, its time to get back in gear and create a fresh set of goals. But if you've been hanging on to the same rigid plans you set six months ago, a refresh is still important. If you're falling way behind with the targets you set, chasing after impossible goals can be frustrating and demotivating. On the other hand, if you're accomplishing every goal with little to no effort, you probably haven't set your sights high enough.
No matter how things are going so far, here are six things to evaluate as part of your reset. Keep this process simple – grab a sheet of paper or your favorite notebook or planner – don't worry about fancy bells, whistles apps or tools that may distract your from your ultimate goal.
1. Your Schedule
Your time is limited. No matter who you are, you have 24 hours in a day to do everything you want (and need) to do. What's important to understand is that you have control of your time. Sometimes it doesn't feel that way – especially when you give up control to other people. But ultimately, even that release of your control is your choice – you take on a demanding new client, you sign your kid up for another set of lessons you'll have to drive them to, your join the volunteer leadership team of a cause you care about. There's nothing wrong with any of these things. What's wrong is that you give yourself unrealistic expectations for what can be accomplished given what's on your plate. Your compare yourself to what you see others doing (through perfectly polished Instagram posts and YouTube videos) and get distracted from what truly matters to you.
Take some time to write down all the things you do in a typical week for your business. Client communications, payroll, marketing, hiring, networking. Circle three to five things that bringing you the biggest return. That's where most of your focus should be. Next, look for what needs to get done – but doesn't have to be done by you. Write a nice big “D” next to these things, for “delegate.” On an ongoing basis, strive to get this stuff off your plate and onto someone else's. Lastly, look for things that are just time wasters or not that important – they are ways you fill your time but don't actually move you forward or contribute to your overall growth. Maybe its a particular project, a type of client, a social media channel, an offline or online networking group or a course you signed up for. Scratch those things off your list and free up time to focus on those things you circled – or more free time outside of work.
2. Your Goals
As I mentioned earlier, many people set goals and then leave them by the way side. Talk about a waste of time. Pull out those goals you set a few months ago and look at the things you just circled. Assess how things have gone over the last few months before you plan for the months ahead. How can your goals be adjusted?
Decide on a focus and plan your months, weeks and days to drive you toward that goal. Revisit your goals regularly.
3. Your Numbers
Odds are, you set a financial goal for the year, or at least had one in mind. How are you tracking toward that goal? Thinking about financial matters can be stressful – particularly if you aren't bringing in as much money as you'd like, or your you're struggling to pull back on expenses. Get a system in place to help you manage your finances. QuickBooks Self-Employed (if you're a one person show) and QuickBooks Online are great tools that can help, and you can get started with either one for less than $15 a month. Start by connecting all your business financial accounts and see what you learn from there. Start using other features as you feel comfortable, but at the very least, connect those accounts and let the system do its work in tracking your income and expenses.
Depending on how far off you are, you may need to set a new goal. Or, it may be as simple as focusing your energy on the things bringing you the biggest return. For example, after a year of producing courses that had less than stellar sales, I refocused on my energy on work that brought me one-on-one clients. My income shot up within 30 days – and I actually had my best month EVER in terms of revenue. And when I was in a better place financially to invest in the marketing of my courses, I started developing new material again.
4. Your Sales
Obviously, sales impact your numbers, but this is where you'll specifically look at your sales and sales activities. Do this for each category of “thing” that you sell. For my business, that would include one-on-one services, courses and my planner line, for example. My one-on-one services are doing really well this year. I'll take credit for focusing my marketing (more on that below), but also there's more talk in the online entrepreneur community about the value of systems, so I think more people are searching for that kind of help than ever, and I've positioned myself to be found when they search. I love courses, but this time of year, they aren't my priority, so the fact that course sales are minimal isn't a source of stress. Even though my planner line is evergreen and undated, sales are slow after January, so again, that doesn't stress me out. But planner season is around the corner so now is the time when I'm prepping to have a successful sales season – so in December when I look back on the latter half of the year, I should see a boost in planner sales.
Do the same type of evaluation of your own business. If you only sell one-on-one services, are you making the anticipated number of sales? Is business better than expected or slower? If you only sell swimsuits, the bulk of your sales have likely happened now, though you will get sales all year long. Are you where you planned to be by mid-summer and if not, what can you do the rest of the year to lift sales? How can you better prepare for next year? If you sell items that make great holiday gifts, what are you doing to get press or land in holiday gift guides? These are often things we'll think about when we've missed the boat.
5. Your Marketing
In case no one ever told you – marketing and sales aren't the same thing, but they do impact each other. Similar to what you did with your schedule, write down all the things you are doing to market your business: email marketing, social media (list each channel…), in person networking, ads, flyers at your local coffee shop, asking for referrals. Circle the top three to five things that are bringing you the biggest return. How can you focus more energy there?
Next, look at your list for anything that can't be measured. If you're doing something and have no idea whether or not its working, you have a few options – you can a) stop doing it or b) figure out how to measure it. If you're not willing to do one of those things, you are wasting your time and money. If you feel like you can't afford to have someone manage all of your social media, you can afford to get a strategy session with someone who can explain what to look for and how to measure your results. You owe yourself that much. If you're paying for an email marketing service but have no idea if you're getting any sales from your emails, check your email provider's FAQs or reach out to customer support. And again, you can have someone show you what to look for and how to track your results.
Don't rely on methods you can't measure, unless you like throwing money away. Even if a certain activity/platform/software is “free,” you're still investing time and resources into it – with no idea of its impact.
Last, write down something you'd like to do, but haven't made time for. Once you eliminate time wasters, set a deadline for adding this activity into your marketing plan.
6. Your Well-Being
This should really be number one. Running a business is not easy. This will not always go as planned. Entrepreneurship involves risk and uncertainty. This was hard for me to accept, as someone who feels pretty risk averse. Even if you become a master at delegation, there's still a lot to do and think about when you run a business. It’s important to take care of yourself first. If you aren't operating at your best, your team won't operate at their best, your clients and customers won't get the best service and your personal life will probably suffer too. Taking care of yourself should be a top priority. Take breaks, get enough sleep, go to the doctor for annual check ups, exercise. When we're under pressure, these things often get pushed down our priority list when really, they are the things that help keep everything from crumbling down.
I have to schedule in breaks every day. Seriously – I write breaks into my daily schedule. Otherwise, I'd sit down at my desk and not get up for four hours or more! Decide what you'll do for self-care on a regular basis so you can feel your best for the rest of the year.
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