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Have you ever looked in awe at the newbie business owner who has all her systems set-up ready to go after a couple of weeks? Or the self disciplined writer who has just completed her first book in 6 months and you’re still struggling to write your ABOUT page? What is it about some people that they just seem to get things done.
Here’s the secret – get ready it might sting a bit: successful people have structure. UGH, that word – yuk, it’s a word most business owners loath, c’mon we wanted freedom to let our creative juices flow, set our own schedule and take time to enjoy the day. Yet, have you ever noticed that the day never really ends – especially when your office is at home. That’s because the fundamental building block of success is structure. Without structure it’s hard to get anything done effectively and efficiently.
I’ve heard it said that ideas and structure are like a river and its bank.
When a river flows it follows a natural path, one that is formed from rock and soil, without that bank the river would overflow destroying anything in its path It needs the structure of the river bank to propel it forward and keep it on track. Likewise, without the water to nourish the land, the river bank would become hard and crumble, thus blocking the river’s flow. The land relies on the river to sustain it and keep it pliable so it can create new paths for the river to follow. Stifle the creative flow and your business becomes a tedious chore, you hit a wall, burn out and… procrastinate! Do away with structure and you loose all sense of direction, take on too much, tread water and… procrastinate!
Good ole’ structure, it’s not a weakness, it’s nature.
A cure to stop procrastinating so you can get **it done!
The very first step to setting up your business (once you have clarity about your business), is to set up a structure that will help move you towards your goals.
All successful companies have a system in place that gives shape to their ideas and moves them forward. It looks like this:
1.) Mission statement
2.) Overall goal
3.) Business objectives
- Requirements to achieve those objectives
- Daily activities to meet the requirements, including timeframes
1.) Mission Statement
A mission statement is a company’s identity. It is a clear declaration of a company’s purpose and intentions. It explains what a company does, why it does it and how it does it.
The word goal is often interchanged with objective but they are not the same. A goal is a statement you make about the future for your business. It is your intention for your business. Goals are long-term aspirations. Goals contain the word “go”. They give direction to our business and lives. They are fluid, abstract, intangible and cannot be easily measured. Whereas objectives are goals broken into chunks. They are specific, concrete, tangible “objects’ that can be neatly defined and achieved by following specific steps. Goals without objectives can never be accomplished while objectives without goals will never get you where you hope to go. You need both as part of your business structure.
Goals look like:
- I am known as the top sales consultant in the US.
- We are the number one online distributor of health and wellness products.
- I am a world traveler, visiting all seven continents.
- I have a thriving consulting business online.
Notice how these goals are in present tense. That’s because when we write goals we are declaring our intention to our subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind operates in the present, sure it records everything but it acts in the NOW. Write your goals as an affirmation; a short, one sentence description, written as a statement of FACT. Affirmations are tools to deliberately create your “memory” for the future by projecting the future into the present through forethought. You are probably familiar with the term foreshadowing, where you are given a glimpse of what is yet to come. Affirmations follow the same principle. When written in present tense, the goal becomes visual, triggering an image in your mind of your goal already accomplished.
Try it – declare what you are, have etc. your mind automatically sees an image. This sets off an emotional touchpoint which gives our human mind the ability to connect with the goal – it’s beautiful. It’s the reason why vision boards are so powerful provided you take action on the ideas that arise from seeing the vision repeatedly.
Goals must be:
- Personal: Written with the word “I”or “We” in them.
- Positive: Always describe what you want, not what you don’t want.
- Present tense: Write your goals as though they are already happening.
3.) Business Objectives
Objectives are specific action steps you will take to move you towards your goal. They are measurable and have timeframes.
Examples based on the goals listed above:
- I will get five referrals from my three largest clients by Jan. 15th.
- We secure three new health and wellness products to add to our line by the first quarter.
- I will book my trip to study abroad by March 15th.
- I will have the content on my website by Feb. 1st.
Requirements to meet objectives
Business objectives can be broken into digestible pieces so you have a guide as to the necessary components.
- Determine which clients I will ask to give me referrals
- Research possible health and wellness products to add to line.
- Get passport, complete any necessary paperwork for study abroad program.
- Complete the ABOUT page on my website.
Activities to meet requirements
This step gives specific direction to your objectives. This is where you determine your daily action steps that give structure to your goals, keeping you on track and on task.
- Before noon today – Send an email or make a phone call to three top clients asking for referrals.
- End of Day – Contact 3 chosen companies to discuss representation.
- By noon – Schedule appointment to get passport headshot and file paperwork.
- By end of today – Write one paragraph about why I started my business.
This structure sets in motion the SMART model successful businesses use to achieve their goals. It breaks the goal into objectives and those objectives into Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely steps that move you toward your goal.
A lack of structure leads to a lack of focus. A lack of focus leads to poor time management. Poor time management leads to poor results. The most important thing you can do every day is to look at your daily activities to meet your objectives and ultimately your goals. It’s much easier to take action when you have a clear idea of where you are headed and you have a map to get there. Even if you only take a small step, commit to taking some sort of action every day on your activity list. You’ll soon find that task you’ve been putting off is no longer this beast you must tackle but rather this horse you choose to ride. Remember, a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
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