Where’s Your Map?

We’re coming into the season when everyone makes New Year’s resolutions. Most of the time, these resolutions are personal: lose weight, eliminate debt, make more time for relaxation, go on that vacation you’ve been postponing. As valuable as those kinds of resolutions are, it’s also essential to use this time to make resolutions for your business goals for next year.

Grab a piece of paper and work with me. If you have a written business plan, pull it out, too. Take a moment to read through your business plan. First, congratulate yourself on all the goals you accomplished. We often shortchange ourselves in the congratulations department because we’re so busy flogging ourselves to do more. So bask in your accomplishments. Make a list of what went right. Let yourself feel the glow. That’s important, because in a moment, you’ll be making another list, of things to do next year, and you need to feel the glow of success to be empowered to take the next steps.

Now look at the goals that were not prioritized for this year, or that just didn’t get done. Are they still important? Has the marketplace or the economy made them irrelevant, outdated or less essential? You may have some good goals that just need to wait a year for the market to rebound. The changing business environment may have given you a different perspective on what you really need, or changes in cash flow may make it necessary for you to do high priority items more slowly. Make two new lists. In one list, write down your new top three priorities for your business. In the other list, write down the things that have to wait. Scratch through and eliminate anything that just doesn’t make sense in the new economy.

The first list is your road map for the new year. Now that you have your priorities straight and your goals are in sync with today’s market realities, it’s time to make sure that your budget and target audiences are also aligned. Take a realistic look at how much money you can spend in the new year to accomplish each of your top goals. Your most important goal should get the most money, and so on down the line. Maybe you can only afford one goal this year. That’s ok. Next, jot down who the target audience is for each goal that will need to be reached to help you accomplish that goal. Sometimes market conditions will make it necessary to change or reprioritize your audiences, so please don’t skip this step.

Now that you’ve gotten your basic road map, let’s talk about the tools to get you where you want to go. Here are some of my favorite tools that I use to make my business vision into a reality.

Vision Board: A vision board is a poster you create with photos or cut-outs from magazines to remind you of your goals. It’s a way to constantly program your subconscious with directions and to keep yourself moving toward your goals. Place your vision board somewhere you’ll see it daily.

Affirmations: Come up with a list of five to ten spoken goals and repeat this list every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep. Make the goals specific and put a time limit on them. For example, perhaps one of your goals is “I want to increase my opt-in list by 30% by June.”

Laser Coaching: One of the best ways to put your road map into action is by getting help with the details. Laser Coaching is a one-hour consultation with a professional on one particular problem. You and the pro brainstorm solutions and you leave with a detailed action list.

Mastermind Group: This is a small, supportive group of professionals who meet on a regular basis (live or by phone) to encourage each other, act as a sounding board, brainstorm possibilities and suggest resources.

Education: The business environment and market are constantly changing. That means successful business people must be constantly learning. Sign up for teleclasses and workshops to help you keep your edge.

Assessment Tools: Getting an assessment of your strengths and areas for improvement can be useful to find blind spots and identify areas you might be better served to outsource. An assessment can be a great lead-in to laser coaching because it will help you identify areas for attention.

Marketing Tools: Many entrepreneurs are doing their own marketing in today’s economy, but maybe marketing isn’t their strength. Even if you’re not a natural marketer, you can learn to create effective marketing that gets results. Look for a home study course or a bundled package of educational materials and one-on-one coaching-you can get some great deals on very useful programs right now since many coaches are offering specials due to the economy.