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.

How to Build a Mini-Site Around a Micro-Niche in 10 Steps

Mini-sites are web sites setup to cover very specific things (micro-niches) and are not usually updated, or at least not updated that often. A mini-site that is updated often stops being a mini-site and becomes a blog. Mini-sites usually answer a question, act as a guide, or help filter information to help searchers find answers about a particular micro-niche. A micro-niche is simply defined as a smaller, sub-section of a niche that together with other niches make up a market, which together with other markets make up an economy.

Mini-sites provide value for both the visitor and the vendor. Sometimes it is hard to find what you need online because the niche is so small that no one has thought to gather the information together before into a micro-niche. When you do that in the form of a mini-site you add value to the visitor and in return get value in the form of ad clicks or affiliate purchases. Think of it as organizing the web into specialty areas that provide the content that search engines need and you see how building mini-sites can be a very noble endeavor.

Below is a Checklist for How to Get Started Making Money Online in 10 Steps:

  1. Decide which Affiliate program you want to use (Clickbank, CommissionJunction, Paydotcom, Amazon, or LinkShare, for example) and register.  You may need to have a website first (chicken and egg, I know), but you can get a blog for free at Blogspot.com or Tumblr.com to get started.  If you already have a web site, make sure it has some content.
  2. Browse around their respective marketplace and look for 5-10 products which look interesting to you, but that are hard to find. For example, if you joined Amazon Associates, browse Amazon to find 5-10 products that interest you, but but that you could add more information to, group, or sort differently to help people find them easier.
  3. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find keywords (key phrases) that advertisers are purchasing which receive between 1,500 and 20,000 exact searches per month.  The difference between ‘exact’ and ‘broad’ is that exact has to occur in order as if in quotes, but broad can have the keyword out of order.  Run competition tests on each of the keywords you find. If there is a page or web site in Google ranking in the top 5 results with less than 100 backlinks, then it’s generally a good keyphrase to go for.  Otherwise, keep looking until you find some.
  4. Go to Bing and search for link:www.site.com –site www.site.com to view backlinks from other sites to that site (replace ‘site’ with the actual web address).  Google hides their backlinks, but you can find out more detailed information on your site by using Google’s Webmaster Tools.  However this doesn’t help while researching other people’s web sites. If your competition has more than 5 homepage results or more backlinks than you are willing to spend the time and money to compete with, then start over at the top of this checklist.
  5. Decide on a final keyword (just one) that you want to go with. If a lot of them are similar in statistics, just pick the one you know the most about and make this the title of your web site and home page.
  6. Purchase a domain that is very relevant to your keyword and/or includes your keyword(s).  A keyword-relevant domain with good content and backlinks will toast the competition based on Google’s current algorithm setup.
  7. Make sure your site has at least 4-5 pages of relevant, unique content with at least 400 words per page.  Add at least one picture to each page to help with promotion later and to get traffic from Google Image Search.
  8. Install Google Analytics so that you can track how many visitors your site is receiving and see where they are coming from.  This will help you measure success and help you decide when and if to change things up.
  9. Design or purchase a theme for your web site and install it.  This should be done after writing content because content is more important than design.  Let me repeat that.  Content is more important than design.  Yes, design can affect the helpfulness and value of your site, but it is far too easy to get caught up tweaking a web site for weeks before a single post has been written.  Don’t fall into this trap.  Save the design work for after the content and before the promotion period.
  10. Its time to promote your web site.  Submit to search engines, find relevant forums that contain signatures and get involved, find relevant blogs to comment on, and consider writing articles for submission to other web sites.  It’s all about creating backlinks to your site from areas relevant to your keywords.  Keep working on building backlinks until you rank in the top 5 results on Google and you are receiving at least 200 visitors per day.  Only then should you tweak your design to help increase revenue.

Now go make some money online!