Posts Tagged ‘planning’

3 Fail Proof Ways to Set Goals – And Stick to Them!

2014 will be here before we know it - have you started setting your goals?

2014 will be here before we know it – have you started setting your goals?

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

We’ve heard so many times about the importance of setting goals. Calendars, mugs, desk paraphernalia and social media (heck – even me!) remind us daily to set goals, often with quotes like those above. We all know we “should” set goals, and we want to, we intend to, but we just don’t get around to it. What’s the deal?

There are a few reasons that goal setting gets put aside. Let’s walk through the most common reasons and find solutions.

  1.  There’s just not enough time. I hear this from business owners frequently. Between the never-ending email, answering client questions, working through staff concerns and issues, and keeping the revenue stream going, long-term planning gets pushed aside.
  2. It can be scary to put a stake in the ground, so it feels easier, in the short term, to avoid it. The catch is that the lack of goals causes us to waste time and energy by pursuing faulty avenues, wondering how we are doing, and just plain worrying. Classic “short-term easy way out” versus long-term gain.
  3. We don’t know how to set goals. It’s natural for humans to set goals and to go after them; honestly, I think we are born with that tendency. Somewhere along the way it gets complicated with books, checklists and workshops. Amazon lists over 6,000 books on “how to set goals”!

Now that you’ve seen yourself in at least one of those scenarios, let’s explore some solutions:

  1. As many quotes as there are about setting goals, there are probably as many quotes about time – “we all have 24 hours in a day” – that sort of thing. It comes down to seeing value in spending time on setting goals. If you haven’t experienced success with goal setting before, just try an experiment with a small idea and see how it works. For example, set a new customer inquiries goal for January, 2014 and follow the steps I’m about to outline.

If you truly believe it is just about time, set aside time and space for goal setting – preferably out of the office without interruptions. Give yourself a time limit and stick to it; a couple of hours is a great place to start.

  1. I get that setting goals is scary – I get scared, too. Remind yourself how good it feels to set a goal and to achieve it. Pause long enough to really capture that feeling, and it will help pull you towards setting a goal and achieving it.

Give yourself a safety net if you’re nervous about setting a goal. Rather than relying on one strategy, map out two to pursue and have at least one in the back of your mind.

Find someone to share your goal with, someone who will safely hold your goal for you – encourage you, strategize with you, and celebrate with you. 

  1. The “how” of setting goals starts with finding the “right” goal for you. My definition of the “right” goal for your business is one that makes you smile, gives you the feeling of everything falling into place, and makes you squirm. Goals that push us to try new ideas,  to learn new concepts or skills, or to use previously untapped resources can make use nervous; as long as they meet the first two criteria you’re on the right track.

Once you’ve landed on a goal that you feel good about and that pushes you, here’s where we often get off track. Believing in your goal is a requirement to reaching it, but action needs to accompany that belief. Mantras and positive self-talk can help but they can not achieve.

Separate your goal into pieces:

  • Results Goal – Define the outcome of your goal; what can you measure? Outside forces that we can’t control are at work on our goals, so we can’t completely control the outcome. Results Goals are things like revenue, percentage growth, or customer count.
  • Action Goal – This is the piece of your goal that you can control; it’s what you do – the number of phone calls, the education you attend, the events you host.

Correlate Action Goals to your Results Goals, asking yourself “what action will most likely help me to reach this Result Goal?”

Finally, measure your actions and results and record them. Every Monday a reminder pops up on my screen to record my weekly traffic; sure, it is sometimes a nuisance and I think “I don’t have time”, or “what if the numbers went down this week?”. I plug away, though, because setting goals and working towards them is my nature, and it’s your nature, too

Increase Profit Without Increasing Business

Do you know which products or services are profitable and increase profit?  Or, equally important, do you know which ones are costing you money?

Chances are you offer multiple product or service lines, and you probably know how much revenue each brings in (if you don’t, let’s figure that out first). Do you know which ones are the most profitable?  Offering products and services that contain a healthy margin is essential to any business.  Here is how to get started analyzing your current offerings and how to decide if a future offering will make the (financial) cut.

Step 1. Determine the Purpose:  Deciding to offer a new product or service ought to begin with the basic question: what is the purpose of adding this product or service? The answer might be to make money, but stop and think about it for a minute; other valid reasons may be to increase sales of another product or service or to satisfy your customers and clients by making their lives easier, which increases their loyalty to you. You may want to be the “one stop shop” for your customers in your field; recognize that, and define your products and services with that vision in mind.

increse profitStep 2.  Support your Goals:  Once you are clear about your goals, it’s time to learn which product and service are meeting those goals. I once interviewed a large department store that’s policy was to only enter a new product line if the depth of that department could stand as an independent store in a mall. Can your products or services survive on their own, or do they rely on other products or services to survive? Let’s walk through an example:

Business: hair salon
Services Offered: hair styling, massage, and nail care.
Products Offered: hair and body care products.

Step 3.  Allocate Costs:  Each product or service should be recorded as a separate line item within the bigger category. For example: hair coloring would be a line item within hair styling and shampoo sales would be a line item within hair products, (which is within hair and body products).

Costs associated with each product or service should be recorded individually, within the bigger category: payroll for hair stylists is a cost of offering hair coloring as are the associated products.

Step 4.  Determine Profit:  To determine the true profit from each product or service line, allocate incremental overhead to each. True cost accounting would tell you to allocate a portion of all overhead costs; I think you get a clearer picture by only considering incremental costs.

Step 5.  Review and Act:  Review your stated goal for each; which products or services are not meeting your goal, which ones increase profit? Chances are you have products or services that are not meeting your stated objectives. Take a closer look to see where you can make adjustments. If you can’t, and your goal stands, it may be time to cut the product or service line loose. If you do, you just may be surprised by how much time and energy you save without losing any profit.

Going Solo: What the Insurance Changes Mean For You

If you are a solo-prenuer, you have the small luxury of not having to worry about health care responsibilities for your employees.  However, did you know that the Affordable Care Act will still have an impact on you as you responsible for getting insurance?  Let’s take a look at what your options are as a solo-prenuer starting 2014:

  • Obtain coverage through an employer if available 
    • Do you have a part time job that offers coverage?  Can you get on your spouse’s insurance?
  • Buy an individual plan through either the market exchange or the private market
  • Go uninsured
    • You will pay a penalty unless you quality for an exemption

If you decide to purchase an individual plan, you can either contact a broker or use the online market place. The Health Benefit Marketplace (also known as the Exchange) is where individuals will be able to purchase health insurance.  This online platform is similar to SHOP, the marketplace that small business will use to purchases their insurance. 

If you want to learn more about the online market place, upcoming changes, and your health care options, visit some of the sites below.  I encourage you to get more information straight from the source such as the IRS, and state department of insurance, rather than a third party.   With that said, here are some links to more information:

Still not sure where to go for more information?  Use this to get started:

Health Care: The Big Picture for Big Business

44% of employers offer health insurance to employees, first and foremost, because they feel morally obligated to do so (eHealth, Inc., March 2013)

Health InsuranceIf you don’t fall under the government’s definition of ‘small business’ (meaning 50 or fewer employees), then you need to pay attention to the health care changes as these changes will have a significant impact on your company!  Starting in 2014, ‘large groups’ or business with more than 50 employees will have three options for health care coverage.  They are:

  • Offer health coverage: either ASO or fully insured
  • Offer partial  coverage:  This option is only available (without penalty) in 2014)
  • Stop offering coverage:  let employees buy individually and risk paying the employer penalty

If you want to learn more about the upcoming changes, plans, and options, you can visit the sites below.   I encourage you to get more information straight from the source such as the IRS, and state department of insurance, rather than a third party.   With that said, here are some links to more information:

Small Business Health Care Survival Guide

54% of small businesses say health care costs are hurting the business environment “a lot” (Gallup poll, January 2013)

By now you are more informed about what is required of you under the new Affordable Health Care Act.  (You have been doing your research haven’t you?)  So let’s start discussing some specific rules that apply to you if you are a ‘small group’ or small business.

small business health careSmall business, as defined in the eyes of the Affordable Care Act, is 50 or fewer employees.  If you fall under this definition, this means that you will have three health insurance options for 2014.  They are:

  • Offer a fully insured plan
  • Stop offering coverage and let employees buy through the Individual market
  • Offer an ASO plan

If you want to offer a fully insured plan, you can either offer a plan through the SHOP exchange or through the private market.  SHOP stands for Small Business Health Options Program and helps employers better predict insurance expenses.  Only businesses with 50 or fewer employees are currently eligible to participate in SHOP.  Enrollment begins October 1st and business can enroll directly by visiting SHOP at: www.healthcare.gov or they can contact a broker.

A tax credit is available for small business who quality.  To qualify for the tax credit the business must: have fewer than 25 full time equivalent employees, have average annual wages less than $50,000, and the business must pay for least half of the employees (self-only) premium costs.  If your business meets these requirements, then you may be entitled up to a 35% federal tax credit in 2013 and 50% (SHOP participants only) in 2014 if you are a for-profit entity.  See http://www.irs.gov/uac/Small-Business-Health-Care-Tax-Credit-for-Small-Employers.

If you want to learn more about the upcoming changes, tax credit and plans, you can visit the sites below.  As always, I encourage you to get more information straight from the source such as the IRS, and state department of insurance, rather than a third party. 

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.