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Are You a Goal-Getter? — 7 steps to achieving your goals

I recently overheard someone reply, when asked about her holiday weekend, “It was successful. My New Year’s resolution is to overeat on every major holiday. I figure I’m going to do it anyway; why not make it a goal I can actually keep?” I had to laugh. It made me think about the goals we create in our lives and in our businesses.

Many fall into one of two major categories. The first category is goals we set that we have a 95 percent chance of accomplishing–mostly because we have done it before, so the likelihood is high that we’ll succeed. (Our overeater above almost didn’t pig out because she was feeling poorly. But she pulled herself together and gorged.) The other category is goals where there is a 95 percent degree of uncertainty that we’ll accomplish them, and we have never done it before, but we would like to. There are benefits to both kinds of goals.

You might think the first kind of goal is for slackers, but there is some value in setting goals that you’re confident you’ll achieve. Using that confidence as a springboard for trying new things can be a useful thing–kind of like doing the perfect swan dive as a warm-up for an Olympic-caliber diver. The problem is if you stop at those, you don’t get to really compete with the big dogs.

Let’s dive into the second kind of goal–the uncertain one.

Goal-setting has been written about every which way. This article is a little bit about setting, but more about accomplishing the goal. The kind of goals you set is certainly important, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to assume you’re setting an uncertain goal that has some reasonable chance of success. The human brain is set up to help you achieve goals that you sincerely believe are achievable. If you want to stretch yourself or your business to new heights, here are my thoughts on goal-setting and goal-getting.

  1. Dream, but be motivated.
    It’s OK to dream and have big goals. But if you’re actually going to accomplish them, you have to DO something about them, and that takes motivation. The very first thing you need to achieve a goal is a reason and deep desire to achieve it. The path to achieving goals is fraught with boredom, excuses and difficulty. You will have a lot of opportunities to talk yourself out of the goal. But if you can keep going back to the reason and your desire for the goal, those will help you stay on track.
  2. Break it down into 24-hour bites.
    The brain has a built in B.S. monitor that rings out when all you do is set an enormous goal but then don’t manage it to 24-hour cycles–daily mini goals. If your goal is to shed 50 pounds, your brain doesn’t see you 50 pounds lighter in 24 hours, but it can see you five ounces lighter in that time. Set your goals so that your B.S. alarm doesn’t go off. To prevent that alarm bell, the mini goal must be reasonable and sustainable. Losing one pound in a day is doable, but it’s not reasonable or sustainable, so the B.S. sentinel will scream its head off, and you’ll eventually stop going after your big goal.
  3. Do something daily.
    Nothing replaces repetition and creating momentum like doing something to get you closer to your goal every day. You will naturally take some time off, but if you don’t take seriously the first 30 days of work on the goal and use them to create momentum, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t get there. The first 30 days are critical to convincing your B.S. monitor that you’re serious. Organizationally, it convinces colleagues you’re serious.
  4. Adapt and adjust.
    As you work on your daily mini goals and toward the bigger goal, be willing to adapt. Make the mini goals more difficult if they seem too easy. Make them easier if they become too taxing. The main thing is that if your brain deems the mini goal to be too difficult, you’ll quit. If it’s too easy, you’re running in place. Find the middle so you have advancement each day.
  5. Feedback and reward.
    The human brain responds to two things to learn and attain new behaviors and knowledge: feedback and reward. As you go about your goal-getting, be brave enough to request feedback from others, and then reward yourself each day for accomplishing your little goals. Research has shown that even keeping a calendar where you put a little gold star on the days you are successful (a la kindergarten) can be effective positive reinforcement. The visual is enough reward for the brain to know it’s doing something right.
  6. Schedule slop time.
    When I was a television news producer, the worst thing you could do going into a newscast is be so tightly scheduled that there was no room for error. Every newscast was filled with anchors reading more slowly than you counted on, reports going longer than they were supposed to and other time-gobblers. The good producers always included “slop time” in their show. They would leave one to two minutes of unscheduled time to be stolen by the gobblers. You should do the same with your goals. Schedule time when you’re not focused on your goal, when you get to cheat on it or not do it at all. You’re going to do it anyway, so you might as well allow yourself the room to be human so you don’t feel dejected by temporarily ignoring your goal. Just don’t make it a habit.
  7. Know you’re going to get bored.
    Doing something in small pieces each day can lead to boredom. Do it anyway. Achieving goals isn’t always about a daily cork-popping ceremony to celebrate something sensational you did. It’s usually about sticking to the daily, boring small stuff. Get that right, make it slightly more difficult each day, and do it again and again. People who achieve their goals usually do it because they kept going when it gets tough and boring.

There is no secret formula to success. Sure, luck comes into play, but it’s foolhardy to count on that. Mostly, it’s having a direction and place you want to get to and then showing up for the daily grind. Hopefully, it’s not about overeating. Go get ‘em.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

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How to Discount Without Devaluing Your Business

Thoughts on Brand Value

Most businesses have seen a slow down since the recession. Slow weeks and months can become the bane of any small business owners life. So, what is the best solution? Many business owners would tell you, “Have a sale”, but, is that going to do harm, as opposed to good? The problem with sales is the perception they bring to a brand. Either the brand was overpriced to begin with or the quality is too low to sell at the original price. It can become a lose-lose for businesses. The key to discounting without devaluing is strategy. Here’s how:

Identify “why”:

Are you overstocked? Low on sales? Looking for new customers? By determining the logic behind your desire to discount, you may be able to find a strategy that fits it appropriately.

Strategize:

What is the best way to solve your problem both quickly and without profit loss? Evaluate the numbers and determine what will work for your organization. There are two main options when developing a strategy.

Deals:

  • Offer lower prices for pre-orders. This keeps your books flush while still providing quality products/services to customers and highlights the value, not the discount.

  • Feature a free gift with purchase. Everyone loves free stuff! Gifts are a great way to entice first time customers to try your product/service. Again, emphasizing the gift with the service draws attention away from discounting and highlights your organization’s generosity and great customer service.

  • Free shipping. Many people prefer to shop in stores to avoid large shipping fees. Feature free shipping for online orders to maximize customer satisfaction and good will.

  • Combine your services. By offering package deals, you can help your customers get the products and services they need while offering a discount. For example, The NetMen Corp provides combination packages where we are able to offer a discount for customers that purchase multiple services.

The problem with discounts, especially those used long term, is the perception they give to current and potential customers. It can reflect negatively on your business and devalue the products or services you are offering. By finding an alternative to discounting you have a better opportunity to highlight the great aspects of your company without worrying about devaluation.

Notice, none of these “discounts” actually lower the perceived value of a good or service. Price integrity is an asset to any organization so by finding other ways to provide value to customers besides discounting you do not risk losing it. Everyone loves a gift so by giving customers free shipping or a gift with purchase you have the opportunity to gain the goodwill of your customers into future purchases.

True Discounts:

Should you decide that a true discount is the right way to go there are a few strategies to help maintain price integrity and perceptions.

  • Specific product group discounts. Seasonal slumps are a part of business. By discounting specific types of products that align with a slower time of year you can avoid the stigma of discounted products.

  • Customer group discounts. This is a trickier way to discount but it can work. Discounting for the elderly or college students for example can help to draw a new crowd while not alienating those who do not receive them. Military discounts also work this way.

Limitations and Restrictions:

Whatever strategy you decide to imply be sure to set strict time limits and restrictions and do not deviate. By sticking to these restrictions you maintain the understanding that this is not a “lets move old/low quality product off of the shelves” perception. It also creates the assumption that this sale is not going to go on forever or come back around soon. Again, this helps to maintain the image of your brand and perception of your offerings.

Discounts can be a good choice for a business but it is always important to evaluate the other options before settling on the best choice for your organization. By determining the problem you are trying to solve and creating a strategy that best suits those needs you have a better chance at maintaining your brand’s integrity and positive perceptions. Be aware these choices will affect your bottom line so prepare to have tighter margins during these times but know that the immense opportunities in exposing your quality products and services is well worth the investment.

For more about building a successful brand, visit our article Brand Building Ain’t What It Used To Be.

How have you used “discounts” to give your business a boost? Comment with your answer below.