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:
- They must be specific
- They must be written down
- They must be measurable
- They must be time-sensitive
- 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.