I love the end of each year! It’s a great, busy time. Things usually slow down quite a bit project-wise in my business, so I get to spend a lot more time responding to emails and doing calls with clients, etc. One of the biggest things I’ve been talking about with people recently is the importance of creating a business plan.
Are you writing a business plan for 2012? I hope so. I’m not going to waste this post trying to convince you how essential it is to have a written plan. Instead I wanted to just share a few things which have helped me reach my goals over the past several years. If you write a blog, and you want to make sure you make cool stuff happen this year, here are a few things to definitely keep in mind:
One of the beautiful things about creating a written plan is that it forces you to be specific. And the more specific the better. It sounds kind of weird but I really have met with established business owners in consulting sessions, and when I ask them their goals I hear things like “I’d like to make more sales”. Vague crap like that. Interestingly, they often don’t even have a clear picture of how many sales they made LAST year, so how are they gonna know if and when they meet their goal?
Again…be specific. Write that sucker up, and lay it out cold. What do you want to make happen? Examples:
- Gross $240k
- Create 5 new opt in pages that each convert at least 30% of visitors into subscribers
- Generate at least 50 new subscribers daily
- Create 3 information products
These are examples of specific goals, because it’s very clear whether or not you’ve made it happen. As soon as you have a specific goal, you’re clear to do the next step…
This is where goals actually turn into a plan. Let’s take the obvious example of an income goal. Here’s a quick breakdown of working it backwards:
- Income goal of $240k
- Avg client price point of $2k
- This means I need 120 orders over the course of the year
- 120 orders over the course of the year means an average of 10 per month
- When I get a client on the phone for an initial consult, I get an order 50% of the time
- To get 10 sales per month, I need to do 20 initial consults per month
- The current response rate to my pitch (sent by email) is approx 10%, and of the people who respond, I successfully get an appointment with about 30% of them
- This means to get 20 initial consults per month, I need to get responses from 67 people.
- In order to get 67 responses, I need to send out the email to at least 670 people every month.
- If my opt in pages average 30% conversion, this means I need a minimum of 2233 visitors to those pages every month in order to get the required number of opt ins.
Well…you get the idea from here. You work this sucker backward until you know exactly what you need to do every day. A lot of what I hear from bloggers and other small business owners is that they want more traffic to their website. There’s that vagueness again 🙂
How much do you need? How does the level of traffic to your website fit into your plan? What role does it play? Using this principle of taking your primary goals and working them backwards has a huge effect on everything else that you do. It puts everything into perspective.
The fact is you may need WAY less traffic than you think you do. After discussing goals with clients, this is a very common discovery actually…in which case, hiring that expensive SEO firm may just be a complete waste of money. It all depends. But you won’t have the perspective if you haven’t worked your goals out this way.
Pssst…stuff that’s really important is contained in the next few paragraphs…
When you’re writing a killer blog post, it’s advisable to spend ample time on the headline. The best blog post ever, coupled with a lame headline will never reach half it’s ideal audience. It won’t get the result you’re looking for, because the headline is arguably the most important element of all.
When it comes to writing a business plan, the same is true for your “why”. A lot of us think of our goals as what we’ll fall back on when things get turbulent. We think that when distractions come along or when sales get thrown off course a bit, we’ll simply revisit our business plan, make some tweaks and get back on course. This is almost NEVER what actually happens.
What actually happens is that when obstacles come along (and they will), we don’t fall back on the business plan. We fall back on what actually matters most to us…our why. We look at why we’re actually in business to begin with. We remember what matters most to us.
So know this, and don’t get confused. Your goals are NEVER what matters most to you. What matters most to you is WHY you set the goal to begin with. It doesn’t matter what the goal is, if you set an income goal (or a traffic goal, or any kind of goal) simply because it sounds good or exciting to you, it’s unlikely to come to fruition. You won’t make it happen, because your goal doesn’t have any real meat to it. It’s just an ethereal feel-good kind of goal. That type of goal is a waste of time.
So whatever goal you’re writing into your plan, ask yourself why. Whatever your why is, it needs to be compelling. It has to be MORE compelling in fact than any of the obstacles you can and will face. Of course you know that the bigger the goal…the bigger the obstacles that you’ll face on the way. Make sure you have a strong why along for the ride, because that’s the only thing that will stay with you for the entire journey.
I’ve found that if you combine a massive why with a specific goal and then work it backwards, you end up with a plan of attack that simply cannot be defeated. The world doesn’t stand a chance against you 🙂