When was the last time you reviewed your goals for your training business?
Something I realised quite early on in my freelance training career (although I sometimes wish it had been sooner!) is that it’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of your business and lose sight of the bigger picture, especially setting goals.
And yet goals can save us a huge amount of time and money. They give us direction, enabling us to frame new opportunities, pitches for training contracts and business decisions within the question, “Will this take me nearer to my goals or further away?” Anything that doesn’t serve your goals and could potentially be a step backwards is much easier to shelve, saving some hard-earned lessons in the long-run. Having clear goals is a highly effective decision-making tool.
Setting goals about where you want your business to be three months, a year or five years from now should also help you pinpoint whether you’re working with the right clients or whether you would like your training business to move in a different direction.
Of course, our goals should never be static. As your freelance training business evolves, you may find that some goals no longer serve you in the way that they once did. This is why I like to use the ‘Plan-Do-Review-Improve’ approach to goal setting.
Goal Setting Stage 1: Plan
During this initial stage, it’s important to ask the big picture questions about your business and create a vision for what your future will look like. How are you going to get from A to B? This will help you define your goals because they are going to be the way you reach your destination. When I’m in the planning stage, I like to think about questions such as:
- What do I want to achieve in the next year?
- What do I need to do to get focused?
- Do I have the skills I need to realise these goals?
- If not, what do I need to do to learn these skills?
- Who do I want to connect with?
- How many new clients would I like to secure?
- How am I going to reach out and make contact with them?
- How am I going to ensure that I stay motivated?
- What are the benefits of my goals?
The key is to make sure that planning takes place before action commences. This allows you to be proactive about your business rather than reacting to someone else’s agenda.
Goal Setting Stage 2: Do
Once you have identified what it is that you want to achieve over the next year, it’s time to take action. During this stage in the goal-setting cycle, I like to have an action plan of short-, medium- and long-term goals. I always keep the following questions at the front of my mind:
- What do I need to do and when? Set targets and stick to them!
- Which tasks are necessary, which tasks can be outsourced and which tasks are moving me away from my goals?
- Have I done as much as I could today to move my business forwards?
- What are the essential tasks I need to complete tomorrow?
Goal Setting Stage 3: Review
As I mentioned earlier, goals aren’t static. They will shape and evolve, and some will fall by the wayside because they are no longer right for you or your business. I find that setting regular time in my diary to review my goals helps me to recognise the ones that I need to ditch, as well as to acknowledge my achievements and where my attentions would be best focused in the future. This is the time to ask questions such as:
- What did I do well?
- What were the results of my actions?
- Did I move closer to my goals?
- What worked well for my business?
- What didn’t work or feel like a good fit?
It’s worth reviewing any statistics at your disposal during this stage. For example, how many new clients have you brought in? How much are they worth to your business? How many new and repeat bookings have you secured? How has your website traffic or social media reach improved?
Stage 4: Improve
The ‘Improve’ stage of this cycle gives us an opportunity to recognise and utilise the lessons learned in the ‘Do’ and ‘Review’ phases.
- If something worked well for your business, what can you do to take it to the next level and build on that success?
- If something didn’t work well, what was the problem?
- What do you need to see a better outcome?
- How can you reach out to your most profitable clients?
You can take the answers to these questions to create new goals designed to build on what you’ve learned and reflect the progress you’ve made throughout the latest cycle. And so the Plan-Do-Review-Improve process begins again, an infinite cycle that will help you grow your business to its full potential.