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You set a goal because it’s important.  Achieving it makes you more likely to succeed.  You want to achieve your goal. That’s where the ‘Methods’ step of your planning comes into play.

Actions Achieve Goals
Achieving any goal requires a series of coordinated and aligned actions that turn your goal into a reality. For example, a ‘Vision’ goal might be to earn your M.D. degree.  Your ‘Milestone’ goals might be to earn A’s in math, biology, physics and chemistry classes in college.  And, one of your ‘Structural’ goals might be to register, attend and complete a course in how to study effectively.

Structural Goals Address Roadblocks
Once you establish your long-range goals, you’ll see things that, if not addressed, will prevent your vision from becoming a reality.  Earning your M.D. degree requires not only the intellectual ability but your successful performance as a high school, university and medical school student.  In business, not having a supportive organization or not having people who can perform as you need and expect to attract and retain clients are ‘roadblocks’.  Those are what you set goals — and take actions — to address.  Why?  Because until you do, your ‘vision’ is at risk of not being realized.  Simple.

KEY POINT:
Goals help you align actions to remove roadblocks to your success

As you look at your business through the 4 ‘filters’ we discussed yesterday . . . a clearer sense of where you are  today will emerge.

Goals . . . What You Want ‘To Be’
Robert Browning knew about goals (“. . . else what’s a Heaven for?”) and you want them, too.  Why?  Because they help you bridge the difference between where you are now and where you want to be in the future.

Vision Goals . . . are goals that inspire you to achieve —  e.g. “Let’s win the SuperBowl!”
Milestone Goals . . . are goals that measure progress toward larger ones — e.g. “Let’s win the Divisional Championship”
Structural Goals . . . are goals you set to address factors that affect your success — e.g. “Let’s find a quarterback who can win games!”

Of the three, the highest utility value comes from Structural goals — because these kinds of goals improve the business structure that supports your success.

You’ll want to have goals to improve the ‘structure’ in each of the areas identified earlier

•  Personal
•  Organization
•  People
•  Financial

KEY POINT:
3 Kinds of Goals . . . All Good . . . if you use them

D = Diagnosis
Growing your business requires that you know 3 things:

Baselines . . . where is your business . . . today?
Projections . . . where do you want your business to be . . . in the future?
Discrepancies . . . what variations do you find as you use your plan?

“Is Now”
You start by establishing a baseline for how your business or practice is . . . today:

AREA 1: Personal
This includes your personal vision and goals that reflects your business as a success.

AREA 2: Organization
This means how effectively your business supports your people to produce the revenues that support your vision and dreams.

AREA 3: People
The difference between your people and your profits is their performance.  So who you have ‘on staff’ and what they offer is important to know.

AREA 4: Financial
In a way, financial is a two-part issue.  First, it’s about the numbers you need to support the vision you hold for yourself and your business. At another level, it’s about the decisions you’re making and actions you’re taking to market and sell your services.

KEY POINT:
Know where you’re starting from . . . find your baselines

OK, so you know you want to use a process to plan what you’ll set a goal to do.   Here’s the process!

D = Diagnosis
Here you assess where your business IS NOW.  A journey starts with a single step and that step has to start somewhere.

O = Objective/s
Your Diagnosis will reveal things that need your attention.  Typically these are things that are keeping your business from becoming what you want it to be — your vision for it, if you will.

M = Methods
These are the means for achieving your goals.  This always requires actions.  And, when you create a group of actions designed to achieve a goal, you have an Action Plan.

E = Evaluation
As you implement your plan, you’ll want to periodically check your progress.  And, if your reality isn’t what you planned, you can make adjustments to put things ‘back on track’.  Little by little, step by step . . . that’s how you create success!

KEY POINT:
Plan to be successful . . . and use D O M E to plan effectively

You know, deep down, that when you plan to make something happen it’s more likely to happen than if you don’t plan.

Planning Isn’t Goal-Setting
But often people confuse setting goals with planning.  They are not the same thing.

Planning is a Process, Not a Practice
Don’t misunderstand, setting goals is a key part of planning.  But planning is different.  It’s bigger.  It’s a process, not a practice.  If you confuse goal-setting with planning, you risk being ‘busy’ rather than ‘productive’.  Here’s why.  Planning helps you identify what you want to set a goal to do.  If you don’t do the planning first, you may have a goal.  But it may not make you more productive.  Busy?  Oh yes.  But productive?  Maybe.

KEY POINT:
A Planning Process helps you find Goals worth achieving!

Yesterday we learned that you use goals to address factors that are limiting your growth. Let’s say you have a great product but no distribution system, you want to build a distribution system more than you want to improve your product.  (OK, you want to do that but think in terms of priorities!).

Enable Your Existing Strengths
A candid and thorough assessment of your current business operation will reveal a number of strengths you possess that can help you attract, serve and retain business with ideal clients for your business. Once you know what can help you do that, then  . . .

Set Goals To Reduce Limitations
You want to set goals to eliminate any factors that restrict your ability to use your existing strengths to attract, serve and retain ideal clients for your business.  As you saw yesterday, not having a way to generate sales (limitation) of your great product (strength) deserves a goal to change that situation — ASAP.

KEY POINT:
Reducing limitations enables strengths and supports growth

Growing your business, and the revenues that suggests, begins with a clear assessment of your business as it is . . . NOW.

Goal-Setting is NOT The Same as Planning
A common mistake we see as business consultants is that clients confuse planning with goal-setting.  They are not the same.  Anyone can set a goal. And achieving it may or may not help you grow your business.  Only the goals that make your existing strengths more available to you are likely to generate growth.

Planning . . . Makes Your Goals Meaningful
While you can set a goal to do anything, you want to be aware of the risk of being busy at the expense of being productive. What makes you productive?  Achieving goals that remove ‘roadblocks’ on your pathway to being a more efficient and effective company.

For example . . . let’s say you have a product or service you offer.  It’s truly fantastic.  Competitors fear you!  That’s a strength.  But, your only salesperson just took a position in Atlanta.  What do you do, now?  Set a goal to improve your great service?  NO!  You set a goal to get a new salesperson, right?

KEY POINT:
Removing Roadblocks . . . Enable Strengths!

To some, “PLAN” is a four-letter word.  That’s unfortunate.  To paraphrase a popular bumper-sticker, “If you think it’s tough to build a business with a plan, just try doing it without one!”.

As a consultant at LIMRA International, I facilitated a business planning process that enabled companies to seriously outperform their peers and competitors.  SERIOUSLY OUTPERFORM!

As the financial services’ trade association, we knew what every peer company was doing.

So it should be of interest to you to know that of nearly 60 companies using this planning process, when we pulled 5 firms at random and compared their growth against the growth rate of their own peers, the WORST performer was doing about 240% BETTER than their peers.  The BEST performer was doing almost 1,500% BETTER than its peers.  Today, it’s called The Profit Project™:

HOW did we do this?  Good question.  Look for more specific details in the coming days.

KEY POINT:
Planning is a critical factor in your business’ growth

“Should I attend a business event?”
Business events — a chamber meeting, a BNI open house, etc. are prolific.  So the issue isn’t where do you go to meet prospective partners and clients.  It’s DO you go to meet them, isn’t it?  And yes, it’s a choice.  You don’t have to go.  But I suggest you do.

Our Breakfast Club — New Haven, CT
Today I got up early and drove 45 minutes to attend a monthly business meeting.  As I left there, I was reminded why I need to take an obstacle course and get over myself — especially when I find myself debating whether I should go to an event, or not.

Lunch, Article, Prospect, Insight, Introduction, Social
These are all things that came from a morning meeting.  I scheduled a meeting for lunch with a prospect whom I also introduced to two people later in the day, I found the basis for a great article for my monthly column at TNNW, I gleaned great insights from the speaker, Joe Grushkin of InLineAdz and for social affiliation, I got a hug from one of the best there is at that — Peaches Quinn.  All this because when I had a chance to say, “No” . . . I said “Yes!”

KEY POINT:
Say “Yes!” and watch the miracles happen!

Each year, as the Discovery Channel’s award-winning program, “Deadliest Catch” ends another season, there’s a sort of ’roundtable’ of the captains of each ship.  The highs (and, lows) of the past season are reviewed, jokes are made at the expense of others and oneself.  In all, it’s a time for reflection, sharing and caring.

Last year, Phil Harris, the captain of the Cornelia Marie died.  This season, his two sons have committed to carry on the family tradition of crab fishing in the Bering sea — just as their father did before them.

But they’re new to being ‘in charge’.  They have a lot to learn.  So they brought on a captain to operate the boat and teach them the ropes.

At the roundtable, the other captains were asked by the host, “What do these new captains need to know to succeed?”  Each captain expressed pretty much the same idea – “First, learn to run the boat.  Then,  learn to run the business. They’re NOT the same thing.”

KEY POINT:
Operating as a practitioner is not the same thing as operating as a business owner!