Setting Goals and Managing Your Time

"There are those who travel and those who are going somewhere. They are different and yet they are the same. The success has this over his rivals: He knows where he is going."

- Mark Caine

Setting Goals is Fundamental to Your Home Business Success

Perhaps Earl Nightingale said it best, "People with goals succeed because they know where they are going. It's as simple as that."

When starting your own home based business, it is important to establish realistic, attainable goals that will motivate you to perform optimally and keep your business on track for its most critical objectives. Setting goals for your home business is considered by most experts to be one of the most important elements of any business plan.

First, when setting goals, make sure you aren't standing in your own way.

Do you fall into either of these behavior traps?

1) FIRE-READY-AIM – this is you if you tend to leap before you look. If this is you, Ben Franklin said it best...."By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

2) READY-AIM-READY-AIM-READY-AIM – this is you if research, research again, then research some more. For you, follow Nike's advice....Just Do It!

The Power of Visualization when Setting Goals

Start the process of setting goals with the ultimate dream you want to achieve. 'See' where you want to go, then work backwards to prepare the landscape to get there.

As Stephen Covey says, “Start with the end in mind”.

What do you want your business to do for you? Visualize what you want your business to look like six months from now, in a year, in two years, in five years. Write down your goals (a new car, paying off your bills, a dream vacation, college for your kids). Feel what it will feel like when you achieve your goal.

When setting goals for your home business, make your goals tangible. Be specific. While a low-power goal might be, “I want to make a lot more money in 2010”, a high power-goal might be, “By the end of 2010, my AdSense campaign will consistently net $1800 per month”. See the difference?

Don’t say, “I want a new car”. Instead, visualize yourself behind the wheel of the car you want. See yourself behind the wheel. Smell the leather seats, hear the music on the sound system, hear the engine kick into life at the turn of the key. See the paint color you’ve chosen; pick the interior. Mental images are extremely powerful – they’ll pull you through the challenges and the inevitable bumps in the road. Add an extra power punch - take a picture of the car and tack it on your bathroom mirror or fridge door.

Then it’s time to get practical. Attach a price tag to the dream, then determine specifically what you need to do to make your goal a reality. For example, in the case of the Google Ad Sense goal, you would need to choose your keywords, create rich content pages, and so on to get the ball rolling.

Setting Attainable Goals for Your Home Business

It's important to set weekly, monthly and yearly goals and clearly defined objectives.

"Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines."(Brian Tracy)

Goals must be written down and referred to daily to maximize the power they hold over your success. Not only will you get more done, the sense of accomplishment you`ll experience as you tick each off is enormously motivating.

Setting goals might seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn't have to be. Simply sit down with a pen and paper and make two columns. On the left side, write down your clearly defined goal. On the right, write out the specific actions that need to be taken to achieve that objective. Keep these written goals 'under your nose'. Print them out. Keep a copy close to your work space to maintain focus - the more often you see your goals in writing, the more likely you are to work hard to achieve them.

Here are some of the key factors to remember when setting goals for your home business.

1) It's good to set primary goals that seem almost out of reach - high goals motivate you to strive harder. However, it is also important to set milestone goals that you know are achievable on a regular basis. Achieving each of these modest 'mini-goals' leaves an imprint of success in your memory, and confirms your subconscious belief that you can, in fact, "do it".

2) Set goals for your home business in two tiers. Gauge your progress toward the primary (long-term) goals by monitoring your progress toward your short-term mini-goals. An example for your home business might be that to earn $50,000 this year, you need to make 2 sales per week. To make 2 sales per week, you know you need to contact 50 potential customers; therefore a mini goal would be that you contact 10 people for Monday to Friday that week. If you look after the mini-goals, the broader goals will look after themselves.

3) Reward yourself. When you attain a goal, no matter how minor, pause for a moment and reward yourself with a compliment and a little treat or gift as a reward. (I like to write a little note of gratitude to tuck in my journal.) This little time-out adds positive reinforcement to your efforts and makes the journey a lot more satisfying.

Attention all Moms! For great tips on setting goals and balancing home and family, check out GoalSetting

Who's In Charge?

This may be the single-most important premise you set for the character of your business.

I totally understand it - when you're trying to set roots and get a business established, it's tempting to try to be all things to all people - instantly. But if you think about it, that's the tyranny of power that you've been trying to escape by kissing your day job goodbye.

The conundrum: manage your business (customers) or they will manage you.

We've come out of a couple of decades of professed '24/7' service and it's time to get real. Nobody can provide 24/7 service in a small business, and it shouldn't be necessary anyway unless you specialize in emergency brain surgery.

Worst offender: the Real Estate industry. Before I got smart, (even when I was successful and should have been resistant to it), I was responding to calls to view properties on holidays, when I had a family birthday party planned, or when I just wanted a movie night out with friends.

When I retired my Real Estate practice I vowed I'd never do it again and I've proved that there's no need to play that game. It's not only a recipe for burnout - I'm convinced that this unrealistic pledge is counter-productive to providing the best service possible to our customers and clients.

What I Learned and How I Work Today

In setting goals for my business, I realized mine would never be attained unless I turned off the 'noise' and focused on the important stuff.

When I started out, I was often frustrated by my lack of progress at the end of the day. I was busy all the time, but I wasn't accomplishing what needed to be done, so I decided to examine how I was spending my time.

I drew up a form to track my activities and, wow, was I surprised by the results!

After tracking my time for a week and looking at the results, I realized I was spending less than 1/2 my time working on my planned activities. I was losing about 10% of my week involved in 'Spontaneous' activities - stuff I jumped into that wasn't planned, usually unprepared, and often not aligned with my goals. And a whopping 38% of my time was being lost to unscheduled interruptions - mainly fielding unexpected phone calls and looking for stuff I'd lost track of. At that point, setting goals and achieving results took on a whole new meaning and I knew I needed to make big changes in how I was working.

Since then, I've turned off my auto-alert email messaging and I let my phone take messages.

Instead, I have 8 time zones during the day where I take and respond to messages. I monitor my incoming calls for potential emergencies, but I batch the rest (99.9%) so that I'm in the right frame of mind to deal with them most productively. Batching allows me to prioritize what needs to be done before the end of the day and what can be deferred.

I collect my messages when I start my day at 8AM, next at 10AM, then noon, 2PM, 4PM, 6PM. In between times, I focus on running my business in the big picture. I've learned that to do otherwise is to defer control of my business into the hands of people that have no commitment to my survival or success.

What it comes down to? Perspective - separating the so-called 'urgent' from the truly 'important'.

I also invested time and focus on organizing my home office so that there's a place for everything and I do a full tidy once a week so that I never have to hunt for anything. Okay, so you may be thinking yes, I understand that setting goals is critical to my success, but how do I stay on track when things get hectic?

Click on the link below to go to the 'Juggling Act'.

For more productivity tips, go from 'Setting Goals' to 'The Juggling Act'.