Setting Yourself Up for Success: Live Your Goals

What are your goals for this year? Not just your professional goals, but your personal goals. In Napoleon Hill’s classic, Think and Grow Rich he interviewed the most successful icons of his day and one of the conclusions he came to was that in order to be successful you have to set goals and then develop a time based plan to reach those goals.

Many of us start every year making New Year’s resolutions. So many of us abandon those before the end of the first month that it’s become a cliché. As a result, many people decide not to set goals because they don’t want to take the risk of not achieving them.

Be brave. Take a chance on yourself. Decide what your goals are then set yourself up for success by making them SMART goals. This phrase has been around for as long as any of us can remember but how many of us actually structure our goals this way. SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based.

So instead of: I’m going to start a business this year

      • Specific: I’m going to start a pet-sitting business this year
      • Measurable: I will have my first client within one month of my April 1st launch and I will grow my business so I have five clients by the end of the year.
      • Achievable: I will set up on Rover.com first. Then I will obtain magnetic signs for my car. I will establish good client relationships and provide reliable service. My business will grow through referrals and by people seeing my car as I drive to and from customers.
      • Relevant: Pet-sitting will allow me to augment my current income this year.
      • Time-Based: Within two months I will launch my pet-sitting business.

The SMART goal: By April 1st I will launch my pet-sitting business which will allow me to financially benefit from my love of animals. By the end of the year I will have grown my business through repeat business and customer referrals to five recurring clients.

Once you define your goals, write them out and place them where you’ll see them at the beginning of each day. At the end of each day review them again and make a commitment to what you’re going to do to reach them the next day.

By doing this every day you will Live Your Goals.

Myth #5: I’m Too Old to Start a Business

  • If starting a business is something you’re doing just to make money rather than because there’s something you want to do or try, compare what you’d make working at a full or part-time job to what you’ll make with your own business.
  • There are some businesses you might not feel comfortable starting:
    1. Those that require a lot of physical strength or activity. If, for example, carrying heavy ladders and spending time at the top of them gives you pause, don’t be a window washer. If it doesn’t, then go for it.
    2. Those that require you to learn a new skill. If the thought of learning to write grants sounds overwhelming, don’t be a grant writer. If, on the other hand, you’ve always wanted to try it….
    3. Those that require you to commit to specific hours and spend more time on a daily basis than feels right for you, keep looking. Don’t start a business you know will take more time than you can comfortably devote.
    4. Those that require more customers or clients than you can comfortably support. In this case, think through your product offering and determine how you can increase the services or price so you don’t need as many customers or clients.

We SHALL Overcome … Income Disparity

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, it became illegal for employers to discriminate based on race; however, income disparities have not flattened out.

According to an article by Ned Resinikoff at http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/washingtons-silence-the-racial-wealth-gap: “In 1967, with the Civil Rights movement still in full swing and Jim Crow still looming in the rearview mirror, median household income was 43% higher for white, non-Hispanic households than for black households. But things changed dramatically over the next half century, as legal segregation faded into history. By 2011, median white household income was 72% higher than median black household income, according to a Census report from that year.”

The same holds true for women. According to an article on the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (www.iwpr.org): “women are almost half of the workforce. They are the equal, if not main, breadwinner in four out of ten families. They receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2013, female full-time workers made only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 22 percent. Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.”

IWPR tracks the gender wage gapStarting over time in a series of fact sheets updated twice per year. According to their research, if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take 44 years—or until 2058—for women to finally reach pay parity.

Not surprisingly, the same holds true for those without a college education, regardless of race or gender.

So if you are a minority, a woman, or uneducated, or if you’ve just had a series of bad breaks, how do you overcome this? By opening and operating a successful small business. If your business offers quality products or services at a competitive price and you effectively target your market and run that business, you SHALL overcome.

Making the decision today to start your own business as we celebrate the birthday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, honors his memory and puts you in control of your destiny.

Myth #4: I Can’t Afford to Start a Business

  • Most businesses won’t yield enough return on investment in the first year or two to be your primary means of support. With that caveat your can provide more income than if you do nothing, and, more importantly every journey begins with a first step.
  • If you’re fortunate enough to still be in the work force and reading this prior to losing your job or retiring, let me recommend that you determine right now what type of lifestyle you’d be able to afford if you were no longer employed.  Although this would seem to be common sense, and you probably have already done this, it’s worth the time to do this simple exercise.
  • Income: Add together all of your sources of income.  Be sure to consider:
    1. Social Security: If you’re collecting social security, figure out how much income you can earn before it starts to affect your monthly payment. You can find that information online at www.ssa.gov.
    2. Pension or Retirement: Add to your income any monthly pension or retirement you might be receiving.
    3. Unemployment Benefits: If you’re currently unemployed and receiving unemployment benefits you may have time to get a business launched and grow it quickly enough to support yourself; however, you are required to look for and accept work you are offered.
  • Expenses
    1. Add up your monthly living expenses.
    2. Don’t forget to include the average weekly cost (times four) that you spend on groceries, gas, one-time annual expenses, pet care, etc.
  • Figure Out What Your Need to Earn:
    1. Now subtract your monthly living expenses from your monthly income. Hopefully what results is a positive number, meaning you have more monthly income then expenses.
    2. If that number is negative, perhaps you’ll be able to subsidize your monthly income with interest from your investments or savings.
    3. If you don’t have investment income and find that your expenses are more than your projected income you’ll need to determine how to reduce your expenses or augment your income – or both.
    4. If you’re currently unemployed or already retired, you’ve probably already done the math and know whether or not you’re able to meet your monthly expenses.
    5. If you can’t, you’ve probably already taken at least a part-time job to meet those expenses.
    6. If part of the reason you’re having trouble meeting your monthly expenses is due to credit card or other debt, I recommend you continue working while you pay that down.
    7. Having included all of those caveats, there’s no reason you can’t start your business on a part-time basis now.
  • If you don’t have the $1,000 it will take to start a business:
    1. Remember, that in most cases you don’t need a thousand dollars all at once so figure out how much you really need to get started.
    2. Take a part-time or seasonal job to earn the money.
    3. Write your business plan and go online to one of the crowd-funding sites.
    4. Read the eBay Trader, Virtual Consignment Shop Owner, and Sharer sections and sell or rent out the things you have to raise the money you need.
    5. Consider borrowing money from family or friends with the understanding that the payback might be a long time coming.

 

Myth #3: Starting a Business is Expensive

  • It doesn’t need to be.  In the book: $1,000 Start-Ups (available on Amazon.com) I’ve provided detailed information for 60 businesses you can start for less than $1,000.
  • For each of these, there’s a list of the estimated start-up costs. This includes everything you need to get started including your licenses, insurance, and the materials you’ll need to produce the product or service you’re going to sell.
  • If it’s a business that sells products, I make the assumption you’ll use the proceeds from your initial sales to buy additional inventory and pay the recurring costs to keep your business running.
  • The businesses I’ve outlined in the book can be started for less than $1,000; however, you can easily spend more than that. It takes discipline and creativity to stick to the budget you commit to in your business plan.
  • For some businesses you will need a computer. If you already have a computer you can use the money elsewhere. If you make the decision to buy an expensive computer rather than buying an inexpensive computer you’ll overspend your budget right out of the gate.
  • For some businesses you’ll need a vehicle capable of moving your merchandise or equipment. If you don’t already have a vehicle capable of doing this, select another business.
  • Prioritize your expenses and manage your cash flow. Yes, you can buy 100 widgets at a time for less than you can buy 10, but if you only sell 10 a month, you’ve just tied up that capital for 10 months.