Article #18, January 31, 2004
The Secret to Getting What You Want!
Now that the year has begun and you have gotten back into your groove, it’s important to take the time to evaluate your actions and strategize to move toward your goals. The process is generally the same for life and business, but business requires specific types of analysis above and beyond the general life questions.
Generally, to get the best life and business you want, you need to perform a periodic, thorough analysis of what is working for you and what is not. Decide what you want to achieve, then design a plan to get there. Let’s examine business first, and I’ll show striking similarities to life, not including business, at the end!
For business, there are specific ‘departments’ of your company that require ongoing evaluation and/or analysis and subsequently, strategic planning. These areas include (but are not limited to) Sales, all the rest of Marketing, Finance and Accounting, Human Resources and Administration.
Sales requires constant evaluation and analysis, especially early in the life cycle of your business. Evaluate your sales goals and the amount of time spent selling. If your sales staff (which might be just you) is spending more time in administrative tasks than selling, that’s a problem requiring attention. Analyze how many people you need to contact to get one sale, and the value of that sale and/or customer. Analyze what works and what doesn’t, and the cost and value of each type of sales action. Do what works!
All the rest of marketing includes everything on your marketing plan except the sales process. Networking, websites, printed materials, PR, internet marketing, advertising, product choices, pricing, strategic alliances, market research, etc. are all part of the marketing process. There may be more components on your list that are specific to your industry or personality.
It’s critical to the longevity of your business to have a thorough understanding of what gets you sales and what doesn’t, and how much it costs to get a customer. It’s also important to know how much the average customer is worth over the lifetime of their relationship with your company. Is your gross margin appropriate? Can you make a profit at the price you’ve set? How much product do you need to sell to make a profit? Are some products losing money? Is it intentional for some products to lose money because they cause your customers to then purchase profitable products? Are there products you could be selling that would serve your customers?
Additionally, do you have a clear message – a brand? Is it clearly communicated in all your marketing materials, including your website, advertising, business cards and other printed materials? Have you established at least one target market to whom to direct your marketing messages? Are you building relationships with people that can help build your business? You will need to invest in marketing, and your budget may need to include a consultant.
In the area of Finance and Accounting, do you know exactly where you are toward achieving your sales and profit goals at all times? When you do a profit and loss statement (P&L), are you constantly looking for ways to become more efficient and productive? How do you know you’re making the right financial decisions? Do you have a team of experts to help you? (CPA, tax attorney, financial advisor) Do you create a budget and a long term plan (3-5 years out) every year? Do you analyze your budget against your P&L every month? Are your fixed expenses appropriate for your current position in the life cycle of a business? Are you allowing your ego to make decisions for you – like having an expensive office, company car or warehouse location?
Do you need help in the office, but are doing everything yourself, thinking you are saving money? If you are spending an inordinate amount of time at the post office, bank and office supply store, or doing your own administrative work when you could be selling, you need to evaluate how valuable your time would be if you were bringing in business instead. If you find that you could make at least $25 per hour if you were selling, you could hire a temp or virtual assistant (www.ivaa.org) and come out ahead. To you have a trusted technology advisor? Having the right hardware, software and set-up are critical.
There are many more questions you can and should be asking yourself in every area of your business. Yes, it’s intimidating, but creating systems that work for you is a great place to start.
There are striking similarities to personal life in this process. If, in your personal life, you strive to lose weight, meet someone special, save for a home or go back to school, you can approach any and all of these goals the same as a business goal.
First, clearly identify exactly what you want. Analyze what you have done historically and evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Put together a plan, with deadlines. Do research to discover what has worked for others and incorporate what you believe will work for you into your plan. Periodically evaluate your progress against your plan – monthly or more often.
If your goal is financial, ask yourself the finance questions above. If you’re looking for a mate, ask yourself the marketing questions. The highest priority questions in marketing yourself involve the product – you. If your product is not marketable, you won’t find the appropriate customer. In other words, make sure you’ve worked on the quality of you before putting yourself on the market! Think about what your target customer wants and I bet baggage, fatigue and fat are not on the list! Do not look for a ‘customer’ to complete you.
Want to lose major weight? You need the appropriate support staff – it’s a very rare person that can do it alone. You need to invest in the product by valuing yourself enough to take the time to evaluate what has and has not worked in the past, what has worked for others and learn new technology – nutrition and exercise. You may need to hire a consultant/professional to teach you new skills, like a personal trainer or nutritionist. You also need to track your progress against your plan regularly.
Achieving your business and personal goals is all about having specific goals with deadlines, analyzing what works and what doesn’t and regularly evaluating and analyzing your progress against your goals. Most people cannot do it alone, which explains why coaching is such a growing profession. People need non-biased, third party support – coaches and consultants who will tell the truth without judgment or ego, and only use your agenda. If you’re interested in a demonstration of how coaching can provide the support necessary to attain your goals faster than you could alone, just contact me for an appointment.