How to set business goals, and achieve them

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There’s nothing quite like the feeling of looking back at your New Year resolutions in mid-June, only to discover that once again, the resolutions have been long forgotten and un-achieved.

It’s hard to set goals for an entire year in advance and keep them when things consistently change and rapidly evolve.

That’s why in this episode, Talia breaks down a proven and tested goal setting process she’s been using for the past 3 years that’s helped her keep on track every time.

For more about the origins of this framework (developed by Mackenzie Fogelson), check out this slideshare presentation.

Grab the worksheet Talia refers to, here.


Talia: Ross, it is June, late June, and I have one question for you. It’s actually two.

Ross: Okay. I’m ready.

Talia: First question, what was your new year’s resolution?

Ross: Ooh. See, this is awkward because the new year’s resolution feels so long ago that it has been long forgotten. But essentially I had this goal of increasing… It’s very much what my priorities were and still are in some ways, but it was I want to double down and increase my wealth as well as improving my health. And that’s a very broad new year’s resolution. One of them has been, still I would say in order, but I have not been taking care of the health as much as I should have. Yeah, I’ve been slacking for sure.

Talia: Right, because that leads me to my second question which was, you had a new year’s resolution, how are you doing with it?

Ross: Yeah, so the long story short is not well. It isn’t going as well as I would’ve liked it to, for sure. I did get a gym membership and then COVID happens so the gym got shut down. So I’m going to pretend that it’s COVID’s fault.

Talia: Well, I’m with you there because I used to set new year’s resolutions. I had all these new year’s resolutions all the time. But I have to say that I always hated them. I hated the feeling that they leave me with because around June, July, I’d look back and I’d say, “Oh no, I’ve had all these resolutions, nothing’s worked.” Because hundreds of things come in a day and priorities shift and you end up doing something completely different. And I never actually completed any of my new year resolutions, which actually led me to start creating and planning goals in a completely different way. Which I have to say, I’ve been using this system for about three years now and I’ve also been using it with the Shine Crew and we’ve all tested it, and it actually is a good process, and it’s been working for us. So that’s actually what I want to talk about today.

Ross: Well, that’s the validation that I think everybody needs. If it’s working for you folks, then it’s probably going to work for others. So I’m excited for this episode. Goals and establishing a bit of an understanding of where you want to go is great, but actually being able to get there is even better. So let’s jump in. I’m excited for this episode. Let’s talk goals setting.

Talia: So as we mentioned, when you plan for a year, there’s just… It’s really hard to do. I mean, some people ask you to plan five years ahead. For me planning so far ahead is almost impossible because as I mentioned before, things constantly change. So what I have actually adapted to is a 90 day plan. Now I know this sounds short and it’s not like I don’t think that thinking forward five years or a year and saying, “This is how much I would like to make.” Or, “This is where I would like to be.” Potentially is helpful. It is helpful. But when I want something to be super actionable, I have to dig deep and plan just 90 days. And when I do that, the whole team is aligned and things actually get done. So when post 90 days, we’re actually able to look back and say, “Great, all this stuff is achieved. Now let’s plan the next 90 days and keep going.” We have that North Star, where we’re trying to achieve something, but we walk around three months of iterations. And for me that’s always been key to success.

Ross: I love it. That’s a great idea. And when it comes down to figuring out what the steps are within those 90 days, I think one of the key pieces that folks need to really understand is you have to get very specific. Like you can’t just be as broad as I was with my new year’s resolution of just get healthy. You want to get into the weeds of saying, “This is how I’m going to do it.” What else goes into the goal setting process and how you’ve been able to see your goals come to life?

Talia: Right, so there’s a couple of steps that you take. And they’re actually quite simple. What I would advise everyone to do is to block out about an hour. So usually these planning sessions take full days and no one’s got a full day, right? So I would say block out an hour and start with step one.

Step number one is called the vision board. And within it, we’re going to answer three key questions. Question number one is, where am I today? Question number two is, where am I going? And question number three is, how I get there? And in each one of these, we’re going to get super specific. So for example, where am I today is the logistics. It’s the logistics about your business. How much you’re making, what services you’re offering, how many hours you work, what resources you currently have, the number of clients or the customers that you have, the company revenue, the years of experience that you have, those certifications, whatever you have, that’s what you’re going to mention.

So for example, you could say, “I have five clients. I have 10 years of experience. One year of experience. I have a website. I’m making 100k a year. My size of my email list is 1000 people. My site’s conversion rate is 2.5, and my yearly salary is X.” That’s where you are today. Super specific.

Ross: I love it.

Talia: Then we move into, where am I going? So for example if you said, “I have five clients.” Where are you going? “I’d like to have 10. Right now I’m working so I’d like to have two teammates. Right now I have 1000 people on my list, I’d like to have 2000 people on my list in 90 days. Right now my business revenue is 100k, by the end of the 90 days I want to improve that by three times.” Every little thing is about just being super specific and not generalizing.

And the last key part of that is, how do I get there? So it’s a huge list of anything that you need to get to what you’re going to. So for example, if you have five clients and you want 10, then you’re going to need to acquire five more clients. If you want to get to a three times revenue than you are right now, then you’re going to have to increase your pricing, add product, what is it that you need to do. In order to grow my list by 1000 people, I’m going to need to create content, I’m going to need to hire someone to have two teammates, and maybe I’m going to have to launch a product. So it’s bigger things that you have to do. We’re not getting into how to do it yet. We’re just talking about how generally you’re going to have to get there. We’ll talk about how you acquire those five more clients soon in the next steps. But first you want to talk about, so what do I actually need to do generally over the next 90 days?

Ross: What I love about this is that it creates and forces the intention around knowing where you want to go. Right? Like a lot of times we spend so much time… We spend more time thinking about what episodes of the TV show we should watch in the evening or what should we should watch on Netflix, than we spend on figuring out where we want to go with our life, which is why I love this formula. Writing down where you are today, where you’re going and how you get there. We’ll only take, like you said an hour or so to figure this out. And starting with that alone is such a longterm… It’s a longterm investment that takes a short amount of time, that will have dividends coming into your life for years to come. I love this. I think this is a great starting point for folks. No matter how far along you are in your career or life, it’s a great way to optimize it. So I love this. Thanks for sharing it.

Talia: We’ve mentioned getting more clients, we’ve mentioned getting a new website. Maybe it’s hiring people. Maybe it’s increasing your revenue three times, very big stuff that you won’t necessarily be able to do over 90 days. So what you want to do is often looking at this list that you’ve made, is write down the three projects you’re going to focus on over the next 90 days. So what are the three things you’re going to work on over the next 90 days? And that puts a lot of clarity on things and kind of reduces that stress. Because sometimes when you look at that list, you’re like, “Oh no, I’ve got so much.” But just focus on the three things that are going to give you the most potential in revenue and [inaudible 00:09:16] start with those.

Ross: Yes. Keep going. I love that. That’s awesome.

Talia: The second step that you want to take is actually very, very helpful for understanding what it is that you need to do. What you want to do is choose one of those goals. Let’s say goal number one is hiring a team because you’re working solo and you want to hire two people. You create a table with four columns, and just specific to this goal of hiring a team you’re going to ask yourself, what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s missing, and what’s confusing. In the what’s right column, you’re going to write down all the things that you have [inaudible 00:09:53] are working towards the goal of you hiring a team. Maybe you already have a position advertised on your website. Maybe you’ve already mapped out the type of people that you want to hire. Then you move on to what’s wrong. These are the items that are just broken.

Talia: Like I don’t have time to focus on this. I’m not prioritizing this. I don’t really know what positions I need to fill in. All these things, throw them into the what’s wrong column. These are things that you want to think about. Like these are the things that I need to stop right now. These need to stop. I need to figure them out. Then you have the what’s missing. And these are usually kind of obvious. It’s the KPIs for tracking. And it’s how do I plan? How do I find the right people to hire? How do I know who to hire? How do I know they’re going to be a good fit? That’s the what’s missing. And then lastly, it’s the what’s confusing. And these are things where normally this is where planning falls because you don’t really know how to solve it. So for example, this could be, I have no idea what to ask people in an interview. If that’s the case, you should listen to the episode about it.

Ross: That’s true.

Talia: Plugging that in there. You have no idea how you are going to cover the fee for this person. So you just plan putting these things into these boxes to help you understand what are the things that you’re doing right, what are the things that you need to stop doing in order to reach this goal, what are the things that you’re missing in order to put them in place, and what are the things that you just don’t understand that maybe you need to talk to someone, you need to train yourself on, you need to get a better grasp on.

Ross: That’s great. So you start with what’s right? What’s going on in your world, in your business today or in your life today, that is going in the right direction? What’s wrong? What is broken? What’s not going as you wish? What’s missing? What things do you need to actually achieve the goals you’re looking to accomplish? And what are some things that you’re not actually sure of in terms of how to actually accomplish a certain thing, like where are there some gaps in terms of your approach? Okay, you filled out the four helpful lists, the next step is what?

Talia: Identifying the patterns. And again, what I want to reiterate is this is just towards one of the goals that you have chosen. It’s not for everything. So take the full list that you’ve created and identify the different buckets they fit into. Is it marketing? Is it operations? Is it client stuff? Is it product? What are the overarching themes of each of those? And then you can know what is the thing that really needs to be addressed because once you’ve done that, that’s when you actually move into the 90 day plan. You set a goal. So the goal is, I want to hire my first team member. So my KPI by the end of these 90 days is that I’m going to hire my first teammate. Then I’m going to look over the next month. Right now it’s June, so let’s say that you’re doing it in June, you’re thinking about July, August, and September.

Talia: So you think, what am I going to do in July? So in July, you’re going to break it down into tasks. In July, I’m going to create a list of the potential roles my company needs, and I’m going to identify one specific role that I’m hiring for. Then you’re going to say, what is the KPI for that in July? So I’m going to have a list of the necessary team members and a timetable for hiring them. Just that one thing. Suddenly these things start sounding so much easier, right? Then in August, I’m going to find candidates. I’m going to assemble a list of 10 people to consider, and I’m going to review and research candidates. What is the KPI for that month? I’m going to have X people that I have contacted for an interview. And lastly, you think about the last month in those 90 days. I’m going to interview X people, and I’m going to hire someone, and I’m going to judge this month by hiring that person. And that’s your 90 day plan for that specific goal.

Ross: That is awesome. I love how specific you have to get with all of these items, and in 90 days you’ll essentially be able to accomplish whatever it is that you set out to be. So I wish I would have had this a few months back when I sett my new year’s resolution, but here’s the other thing that folks don’t often realize, new year resolution and the whole concept that it can only start in January is a complete story that we tell ourselves. You could start today, and I’m going to start today with my own 90 day plan on figuring out how I can accomplish some of my own goals. And I strongly recommend that our listeners go and do the exact same thing. So this has been an amazing episode. I really appreciate the perspective, and this is a cheat sheet that I think everyone can start to apply to their own business and to their own life. So thanks for sharing.

Talia: What I’m going to do is I’m just going to share the article… The link to the Google Docs so you guys can just download it for free and use it to plan your goals, and it will be on our website. And that’s where I’ll leave it guys. So visit us on our website to download this sheet for free, and also leave us a five star review on any of the platforms that you are listening to. Just five star reviews. And join us in our Facebook group, which is

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