Goals as a Function of Success

As we head into the new year I have been thinking a lot about goals lately.  I was reminded of an old function I created once for the achievement of a goal.  If you are wanting to make money online, you are wanting to start a business (whether you think of it as a business or not).

Think of the act of creating a business as a pre-defined function:

goal + team + defined product + defined market + advertising = achievement of goal

So, the goal is the beginning of the function and the achievement of that goal is the result. Without a goal, there is no function. The function is the business. Therefore, without a goal, there is no business.

How to Define a Goal

Dave Ramsey, a financial author and motivational speaker has five rules for goals:

  1. They must be specific
  2. They must be written down
  3. They must be measurable
  4. They must be time-sensitive
  5. They must be yours

The first three are self-explanatory, but “time-sensitive” means setting an end-date. Diana Scharf Hunt, a motivational writer, is famous for saying, “Goals are dreams with deadlines,” but what does Dave mean by “yours”. I think it means that it has to be something you care about, something you are passionate about. Passion is key to the goal, which also means it is key to your business, according to the function.

What are you passionate about? It’s okay to be passionate about making money. That is an okay reason to start a business. Even not-for-profits need to make money to survive. Those who are successful in business realize that they are not making money for money’s sake. They are tithing, providing other people with jobs, helping their local communities, providing for their family, all the things that come from making money.

Lets say our goal is to make money and we want to go down the list, applying the rules:

1. Be specific. How much money do we want to make? Money without time constraints is irrelevant so lets use the unit of a year. Lets say we want to make an additional $40,000 a year – on top of what we make now.

2. Write it down. I’ve wrote it down in this post, but you should write it down on a piece of paper, in an email, or in an online collaborative space like Google Docs or Google Sites.

3. Must be measurable. Track how much we make using Quickbooks Online or online through Google Docs spreadsheets. Income – Expenses = Profit or Assets – Liabilities = Owners Equity.

4. Must be time-sensitive. Lets say the goal is to make an additional $40,000 by May 30.

5. Must be yours. I came up with it, but you must make it your own.

How to Build a Team

This one is harder, but nothing easy is worthwhile so lets get at it. Any and all team members must buy into the goal. If they don’t then they shouldn’t be a team member. Because the function doesn’t work without the goal, we have to have team members focused on the goal. When the focus is on the goal, the team can work on the next part of the function, which is defining a product. Notice how the product was not thought of before the team was created. This is important and on purpose. Jim Collins in his book, “Good to Great,” tells the story of Hewlett and Packard, having their first meeting, “Agenda: Decide what products we are going to sell.” They had the right people with the same goal, to make a successful business. They ironed out the who before ever worrying about the what and how.

How to Define a Product

This one is harder still, but now you have a team to help. First, state the problem you are trying to solve. This is critical. What is wrong that you are trying to fix? What can you do better than anyone else? How can you differentiate your product or service from another company’s? Before you look under any rocks and start wasting your time Googling the universe for problems, look within yourself. What frustrates you? What needs changed? What have you complained about in the last week? What, if anything would you like help with? What would you like to know more about? I for one would like to know what people are searching for when they want to find things. That way, I’ll know what keywords to use in order to attract those searchers to my websites. It’s simple, understandable, and a definite problem for not just me, but every person who has a website. So for now, lets go with that. Our product (for this conversation) will be in offering information on what people are searching for in order to find their products. This seems like a product that might be able to help us achieve our goal and will give your business a reason for being.

How to Define a Market

A market is more than a geographical area or demographic of people, its also a category of product or service. Regardless, its the marketplace in which you think you’ll have the best opportunity to make a sale, which helps you with your primary goal, the goal without which your business would fail to function. Focus on the outcome, the goal. Realize how many sales at your products range of prices you’d have to make in order to reach your goal. For micro-niche and blog sites, use Google’s External Keyword Tool to see how much traffic a given set of keywords within a market is getting.  Use search volumes as well as existing competition (if someone is selling it, someone is making money on it) to determine whether or not the market is viable.  If you have a brick and mortar business, try a Craigslist or eBay auction of the product or service first as a prototype to test.

How to Advertise

Define what makes you different and/or better than your competition and hammer it home. Focus on your market and be an expert on your product. Don’t spend any money on advertising until you have exhausted all the free ways you can promote yourself online and through social interaction. If you feel you have exhausted all of your free advertising and you still have no sales, go back to “How to Define a Product” and think of a new product. This new product may then need to define a new market and then advertise again. Repeat until you reach your goal. As Winston Churchill said, Never give up. Never. Never. Never. Never.”

If you liked this article, you might also like reading The Confidence-Success Loop.

The Apple Tree

I woke up this morning to a direct conversation with God. I was facing the window, which has no shades, and outside the window is the apple tree. It has not bared fruit for two years and I have been planning to cut it down to allow the sapling maples growing around it to thrive. When people would come over I would say, “I’m going to cut down that apple tree,” but I never would. I made excuses to myself about not having the right tools or the time. I don’t own a chainsaw and the resource I’ve used for one in the past moved out of town. This left me with a goal without execution.

God told me to cut down the apple tree. I said, “I have stuff to do. I have an appointment this afternoon with a client and I can’t be out cutting down apple trees. I have to prepare!” God then said something about “obedience” and so I said, “Just to make sure I’m not talking to myself right now, I’d like you to confirm this conversation by having someone in my house repeat the word “apple” to me this morning. I made a commitment that if I heard the word apple, I would know that I had indeed had a conversation with God and would cut down that apple tree.

Let me back up. The night before, as I laid down to go to sleep, I believe God spoke to me by simply saying, “Read my book.” I said, “I am tired. I’m already comfortable, all snuggly in my covers, the light is off, I don’t want to get up, be cold, and have to read. I know what it says.” God tugged on my heart that I didn’t really know what it said and spoke again, “Read my book.” I’ve been keeping my bible under my bed for easy access, so I sat up in bed and opened up to the beginning of the gospel of John (I had John 1:1 on my mind). Instead of starting at the beginning, I read this (John 1:19-:42 NIV):

John the Baptist Denies Being the Christ
19Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.”

21They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”

22Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”

24Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26″I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

28This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Jesus the Lamb of God
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
Jesus’ First Disciples
35The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

37When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

39″Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.

40Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

I had read this passage before, but what struck me this time were these lines:

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

Before, when I read these lines, I thought Jesus was being short with them for following him in the way that someone who is being followed eventually turns around and screams, “What do you want?!” But last night, I read it as a two-part function of Jesus’ personality:

  1. They followed Jesus.
  2. Jesus asked them what they wanted.

When they responded to Jesus, they were praying in the literal sense, so lets look at what they prayed after Jesus asked them what they wanted:

Where are you staying?

The wanted information. They wanted to know where he would be in the future. Jesus’ response is just as interesting:

Come and you will see.

So it starts with following Jesus and it ends with following Jesus. It’s all about obedience to Him. And through obedience, Jesus wants to know what we want. When we pray to him we are asking for things we want, but what I am learning is that we also have to be obedient and follow Him. God had asked me to cut down an apple tree, but for now it was time for breakfast.

My wife had surgery yesterday, but even if she wouldn’t have, I normally make breakfast on Saturday mornings. I grabbed the last four eggs, some butter, and some cheese and made scrambled eggs with cheese, plus toast with grape jelly, and orange juice. I called the girls down to eat and we sat down to pray. I thanked the Father for our home and our vehicles and the health of our children and my wife’s successful surgery. I then asked for guidance on how to spend my day. In the middle of my prayer, my oldest daughter yelled out, “Apple tree!” I was a little taken aback by it and had trouble praying, but continued, only to be interrupted again by another round of, “Apple tree!”. I finished praying, then asked why she was saying “apple tree.” She said she had found two apple seeds yesterday and wanted to plant them. I was going to cut down the apple tree.

I went down to my shop and gathered up my largest whet stone and some honing oil in order to sharpen my axe. They were all my wife’s father’s tools that we inherited when we moved into their home after my wife’s mother got remarried. My wife’s father died when she was 12 and her mother planted a tree every year afterward to honor him. One of the trees was the apple tree I was about to cut down. While the tree had been planted in his honor, it would be his tools that would cut it down.

I sharpened the blade.

By this time, my children had become involved, mostly as spectators. It was a brisk morning so my oldest daughter fetched me a coat. I swung the ax and began cutting into the tree. My children went and got cardboard boxes to play and sit in. I was not sure if I would be able to finish cutting down this tree. It was about 30 inches in circumference and my ax, although sharpened, was still making long-work of the process. I prayed for strength to finish it.

I had cut a wedge about a quarter of the way through into the leaning side of the tree when I considered starting to cut the other side. At that moment, my oldest daughter yelled, “Do the other side now!” I asked her to pray for strength for me to finish and I began to work on the other side. I chipped into the tree, working about an eighth of the way in, then circled around the side, connecting the front and the back. I worked back to the front, then began hitting it as hard as I could, repeatedly. I was in a groove and I thought this would do the trick until a hit rocked my bones to the core. What I thought would work did not, but instead of giving up I decided to switch tools.

I took the ax down to my shop and retrieved an antique hand saw instead. It was my grandfather’s and is made for cutting dried wood, but it was all I had and since I was mostly through the stickier exterior of the tree, I thought it would work. After choosing the thinnest spot, I began to saw. It was slow work. It reminded me of paying off a debt. With every stroke (or payment) I couldn’t see much progress and it was depressing, but continuing to saw, every once in a while, I saw a large chunk fall off. I was making progress, it was just slow progress – and it was almost all that I could take. I asked my oldest daughter to pray for strength. I continued to cut, my arms were burning. I was exhausted from axing and sawing, so I asked my other daughter to pray for strength too. They both began to pray and I heard God say, “Cut 40 more times and the tree will fall.” I didn’t know if I could cut 40 more times, but I continued to cut, 20, 30, the tree was starting to lean, 38, 39, “Move!”

The Apple TreeThe tree fell towards the house and towards my daughters. They were safe, just outside the fall line in their card board boxes, but it scared them. I was exhausted, but God had delivered the tree to me. It had been a spiritual journey that I wanted to share. God is good and we can all learn to obey him more.

By the way, when I went to write this story, my oldest daughter brought me the “apple seeds” she wanted to plant. They were sunflower seeds. We will plant them next spring and remember this day.

4 Steps from Wanting to Receiving

I went to bed last night thinking about my experience earlier in the day with my daughter at the gas station.  We walked there to get my wife a coke, but had some “extra” money to get her some candy.  When we walked through the candy aisle, she started looking at the bags of candy on the left and I looked at the money I had.  I had to bend down and tell her that she could only look on the other side of the aisle, in a section in which I could afford to buy her something.  In bed that night I started thinking how much more awful it would be to do similar things in the future to clothes she’ll want to buy, trips she’ll want to go on with friends, etc..

All that we have been reading about, hearing about, and preaching about, start doing and acting on it – believing it.  We know it’s true, but I would encourage you to develop the faith.  If I could boil all of our conversations about this down, it would go something like this:

Develop and understand what you want.
– Desire, or love, is what keeps you attached or attracted (as in Law of Attraction) to the rest of the steps involved. I would venture to guess that for both of us right now, this desire is to first be able to pay all of our bills monthly, then be able to provide extra for our families.

Believe or train your mind to believe it. – Faith is the next step, bridging the what (desire) and the how.  This is where limiting thoughts from yourself, friends, family, and society creep in, but can be let go through self-talk or mental exercises.  It’s a matter of being acutely aware of your thoughts and managing them towards your stated desires.

Act as if you have already received it.
– This means both being thankful for everything you have now, but also what you will have in the future.  It also means acting how you will be after receiving the desire, for example, developing systems and/or routines for paying bills and saving money once the revenue starts coming in, believing that it will and we need to be prepared for it.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. – This adage means to not review a gift before accepting it.  Once you have the desire, have trained your mind to believe it will occur, and have started changing actions to prepare for it’s arrival, the next step is it’s arrival.  Make sure that for more open-ended desires like “more money” you are also open-ended on where you expect the money to come from.

I’ve been listening to an audio version of Peter Drucker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship book.  In that book, Drucker talks about how entrepreneurship is not about starting a new business, but identifying surprises, incongruities, or miss-assumptions, and then creating something new that shifts resources from an area of lower yield to an area of higher yield.  The reason I bring this up is because sometimes businesses, which are ran by humans with similar brains and emotions to our own, go through this same process.  Some succeed and some fail.  Let me give you an example:

Drucker talks about Macy’s department store in the early 1960’s.  We can assume that the desire of the business was to earn revenue.  They believed that they could and acted as if they had already received the revenue by purchasing buildings, inventory, and machines to process the transactions.  But in the early 1960’s, more revenue started coming from appliance sales than from fashion and for twenty years, managers worked to suppress these appliance sales in order to keep the ratio of fashion-to appliances the same.  Then in the late 1970’s new management embraced the change and despite rampant inflation, Macy’s department stores began beating the market.

Another story is about IBM thinking they would sell equipment only to universities and scientists until one day they were bothered by a woman who complained that she could not get an IBM sales rep to come down to her library to talk to her.  The next morning, the head of IBM walked into that library and closed a deal with enough revenue to cover next month’s payroll.  That was when IBM decided two things: that they would start selling to anybody and start asking for the money up-front.  You see, the original sales rep desired to make a sale, he believed that he could make sales, but when a sale came by that didn’t match his idea of what a sale would look like, he passed it over.

Even I encountered this yesterday while doing micro-niche searches for the Thirty Day Challenge.  I kept coming up with results matching resumes and jobs, but every time, rejected them as not what I was looking for.  Then it dawned on me that what I was looking for should only be classified by the mechanisms and categories that got me there.  As long as it fit the goal (desire) of finding a micro-niche that had over 80 hits a day and less than 30,000 competing websites with phrases that matched mine, I had found what I needed.  To clarify, there are two steps past that (SEO competition review and Monetization) which my brain may have been pre-filtering for, but it’s hard to tell pre-filtering from bias.

Be sure and check out what Zac has to say about this topic in particular in a blog post he wrote back on January 6, 2009 entitled Who Limits Your Success?

More > If you liked this post, be sure and check out > The Law of Focus…