Part of the desire for setting measurable goals comes from the American culture where success is measured in dollars, things or points scored. Unfortunately, small business success doesn’t work that way.
In my last post, I shared a specific process for goal setting that is in direct conflict with what we’ve been taught about success. Remember “SMART” goal setting? (SMART being an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.)
This old way of thinking about goals is a bunch of bull. Now to be honest, I am a recovering obsessive-compulsive planner who used to drive employees crazy with detailed plans and measurable goals. Needless to say, it was hard to let go of the incessant need to measure. The truth is…it just didn’t work. Success is relative, period. Now, before you throw away this advice from a recovering planaholic, hear me out.Perspective: I built a profitable $6 million (annually) consulting business that created true financial freedom. However, the target revenue goal wasn’t $6 million. It was $50 million. By the planned “measures,” I had failed. And that’s exactly how it felt, like I had failed. That’s crazy. Furthermore, a lot of negative energy was spent focused on what wasn’t working. So much so, that I neglected to enjoy what was working. As a result, everyone around me was miserable too. That is not success.
Maybe you can relate. How many measureable goals have you actually hit? Probably not enough to feel successful. So, “if you want something better, you have to be willing to do something different.” Yeah, you can quote me on that.
Since late 2008 I’ve learned how to completely reshape the way I intend, manifest and work goals. That’s not to say that measurement isn’t important, but it can’t be the key indicator that determines our sense of success. Instead, we have to learn how to use measures as “guide posts” rather than “goal posts.”
We have to learn how to use measures as “guide posts” rather than “goal posts.”
Entrepreneurs set goals like this: We start a business and set a goal to earn $50,000 in the first year. In our mind, the $50,000 target is a “goal post.” If we cross the goal post, we have achieved success.
It’s like we a belief that if we achieve $50,000 then we will be a success. And what happens when we don’t hit the goal? Right, we feel like we failed. My purpose for writing this blog is to help entrepreneurs (and would be entrepreneurs) redefine the way we think about and measure success.
Regardless of what you’ve been told, start-up success is not measured in a linear manner. Goal posts set us up to fail. Guide posts, however, accelerate success. Here’s an example.
Succeed on Purpose incubated and launched 7 businesses in 2010. Of those 7 brands in our portfolio, 6 were successful. That’s pretty good odds: 6 out of 7.
One of my favorite CEO’s had a terrific brand, but despite repeated warnings, he set very detailed revenue goals for 2010. For this business owner, his targets were “goal posts.” Unfortunately, the business did not hit those revenue goals. He missed the goal post. However, in the process of its growth, and because of the nature of its services, his business changed lives. It changed lives. How do you think that business owner felt despite the number of lives he touched? You guessed it – like a failure. Let me give you one more example, and then I’ll give you the secret sauce behind this new way of measuring success.
Another CEO, who is the owner of our fastest growing business, started a self-publishing powerhouse, Inspire On Purpose™. Now get this, she never set revenue targets, but instead set goals of abundance and joy. She established high-level revenue targets that were only used as a guide. Her singular goal was to make a lot of money doing what she loved to do, publish books. She blew the doors off of her revenue “guide posts.”
That’s right; the business with a detailed business and financial plan missed his goal post by a mile. The other set very broad targets and used them as a guide post. She focused on abundance and joy. Her business exceeded our wildest expectations.
So to find true success, you have to use measures as “guide posts” rather than “goal posts.” Now let's cover how exactly to do that.
Because of where we are today, we have been “prepared” for more. I cannot express how important gratitude is. We’ve heard that before, but it bears repeating. Give thanks for wherever you are now.
If you’re starting a business, or trying to grow one, you should definitely set a goal for abundance.
These guide posts should be just that…a place to direct your aim. For example: if you just started a business, perhaps you want to earn $3000 per month after 6 months, and by year-end you intend to be at $5000 per month. Remember, the numbers are to be used as a guide. They let you know if you’re on track or need to adjust. So, don’t attach to the numbers themselves, attach only to the broad goal of abundance.
Now comes the critical part, and it’s based on one principle:
Set very specific activity goals for what you will DO to achieve the broad goal of abundance. How many contacts will you make? How many networking events will you attend? These kinds of goals are completely in your control and should be measured and evaluated. These are the real goal posts because you have control over them.
Each day, evaluate how you’re feeling against the broad goal of abundance rather than the revenue targets. Do you feel abundant? Why or why not? This is where entrepreneurs get off track. They’ll say, “Well Terri, I didn’t hit my goal of $3,000 per month, so how can I feel abundant?” That’s not the point. If you’re not feeling abundant, then what has to change? Your attitude or your actions? You can’t control the outcome (how much revenue you make); you can only control your attitude and your actions, right? So, which needs to change, your attitude or your actions?
Goal post measures should ONLY be those that you can control. Since you can’t control the outcome, it should never be a goal post.
Now, if you’re not feeling abundant, and you’re not hitting your revenue target, then you have to adjust.
We look forward to a continued dialog on the true success. May 2011 be the year of abundance and joy.
With the soulfulness of Wayne Dyer and the entrepreneurial spirit of Richard Branson, Terri is a world-class business growth expert, social impact investor, and serial entrepreneur whose purpose is to inspire potential. With her own money, Terri built a portfolio of purposeful companies, Share On Purpose, Inc., and now invests in and creates mission-driven start-ups.
In a career that spans more than 25 years, Terri has launched, owned, sold, rebranded or turned around more than 40 companies. She is known for her game-changing business models and personal transformation frameworks.
Everything she built came directly from a wellspring of perseverance and soulful resiliency, which she openly shares through her first purposeful brand, Succeed On Purpose.