Here is the million dollar question: why are you in business and what do you want to achieve from your business; in effect, what is your ultimate goal for you and your business? Many business owners I come across have either forgotten what their big goal is, had no idea in the first place or it’s so vague and woolly that they find it hard to actually tell me, let alone write it down.
So perhaps it is no surprise then that these very same people are often going round and round in circles with their business, with sales that have not increased by more than a few percent in the last few years, profits that are being eroded by ever increasing costs and a team that seem to be more lost than they are. As the saying goes, “you get what you focus on”, so if you focus on nothing then guess what? That is exactly what you get.
So what do we need to do differently? Well, the answer is actually extremely simple. As Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote in their song for the musical South Pacific, called Happy Talk, “You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” So your first step to having what you want is to know what you want to have. This should be something that is potentially a long way in the future – maybe even 10 years away, and something that is big and challenging and even a bit scary too. Jim Collins calls this your BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
Now while this seems simple, for some dreaming big is extremely difficult, especially if they are over 10 years of age. Just ask an 8 year old child what they want to be when they grow up, and see how enthusiastic his or her response is. It’s only when we get a bit older that society seems intent on limiting our ambition. For example, a 10 year old boy says to his mum, “When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut”, mother replies “Ah, that’s nice dear, but let’s get realistic about this, why not be an accountant like your father.”
To help with identifying your big dream, try this exercise. Just imagine that you could not fail, you had unlimited resources of time, money, and people and the only criteria was to make your business the best it could possibly be. What would your business look like, where would it be located, what clients would you have, what would your team be like, how much money would you be making, what would you be doing with that money, how many hours would you be working, what would you be doing with the your spare time?
When you have that real clarity for your dream, you need to write it down in detail, the more detail the better. If you are artistic, draw a picture, or create a visual image, if you are auditory then tape your description. Then when you are done, share it with somebody. You will know if you have succeeded, when you get the reply, “WOW, that’s great, I can really understand where you are going and why you would want to do that!” If you feel embarrassed sharing this with friends and colleagues then either get better friends and colleagues or get yourself a coach who will encourage you to achieve your dreams.
The next step is to set goals or milestones, which will add a timeframe in the journey towards your ultimate destination. Again, you need to write down these goals and make sure that they are SMARTie goals:
• Inspiring and emotional.
For bigger goals you will of course need to break them down into a plan of action in order to achieve them. I am a great believer in having clear 12 month, 90 day, weekly and daily goals, plans and actions, all written down, referred to an updated on a regular basis. Think of your daily/weekly action plan as your training program, exactly like a top sports person would have. They know if they follow their plan every day, for the time that they have set, they will achieve their goal, and the same is true for you and your business goals.
If you think that you are one of those people who do not need to write down your goals and plans, than please think again. The subconscious mind is vastly more powerful than the conscious mind, carrying out 95% of our daily activities, and we program it by using our 5 senses: sight, sound, feel, taste, smell. Unfortunately the last two senses do not help much with business planning, but the first three certainly do. If you rely on only one sense programming your subconscious you are limiting its power, use all three and you give it its best chance to direct you to your goals and dreams.
The last step is to take action, because after all, “positive thought without positive action leads to positively nothing”. So go on – dream big, aim for the stars and even if you only reach the moon, at least you will have achieved more than most people ever do.