It’s 2019 and resolution time. We’ve decided resolutions are no longer the way forward. It’s almost as if you are saying the person you were is not good and needs to be better and then setting yourself up to fail and that is not a cycle we wish to be stuck in.
So, let’s set goals, let’s make things happen. Professionally or personally, big or small. Don’t take huge steps if you don’t want. Tip toe if you like. Just go forwards instead of backwards. Take the step.
And so here’s the inspirational bit……
Do you have a dream? Do you want it to turn into a reality?
WRITE IT DOWN. It’s a goal now, you are in control of it and hopefully already feel more motivated. You can do this and you can make it work.
Next you need to break it into manageable steps. This is now a PLAN.
OK so now the hard bit. Put it into ACTION.
Now your dream is a reality. THE END.
Almost. Wouldn’t it be lovely if it was that easy?
Obviously, we constantly have dreams and we need to have a reality check as to which ones are worth pursuing but sometimes you just need to go with it and trust your instinct, your initiative, that feeling in your gut that this dream is too good to ignore.
When Katy and I had a little dream (read that as an overexcited chat in a very hot little pool house while our youngest two learned to swim) over 2 years ago about starting our business we decided this was one to pursue. There were, and probably still are more reasons not to do it than to do it (we both had jobs that actually paid money every month, we are mums, we each have an endless to do list, we don’t have huge amounts of spare money to invest to name but a few).
Now what I will say is that plans have changed, things have gone awry, there have been moments along the way when we have wondered if we are going mad. Maybe we are.
Just so you don’t think we had this amazing plan, went ahead and made it work I’ll give you a bit of background:
When I look back at my business plan and forecasts that I put together for the business loan we took out it is laughable. I honestly thought we would boom onto the scene as if the world wide web was tiny and we would just pop into people’s consciousnesses and browsers. That an advert in a national magazine would reap huge rewards. It has definitely been more of a trickle but these things do have a snowball effect and growth takes time unless you have a huge marketing budget. Which we don’t.
So first of all, write your goals down, I will give you a few tips:
1) Be specific about your goal (s). You need to be able to measure them so they need to be accurate. If I am honest ours were changeable in the early stages. We initially thought we could buy everything in and put it together which would have meant a much earlier launch than we ended up with. Once we’d got a few suppliers on board we soon realised that even though individually the items were beautiful they just didn’t go because of the different styles. That is when we needed to find a designer (Nina you are a genius!) and brief her with what individual elements we wanted for various rooms. This added a lot of time on as we then needed to have these made into the end items but that gave us time to find suppliers we love and test out the supply base a little. Plus learn some valuable lessons on the way.
2) Make sure you can measure them – give it a number, a date. Again, make it achievable and moveable if needs be.
3) Are they realistic? Can you actually do this? By all means push yourself but don’t set yourself up for failure. And don’t beat yourself up if you realise after that maybe you did shoot for the stars too much. On the flip side of this don’t aim too low. There was an article in an American magazine called ‘Entrepreneur’ that stated to aim for $1 million you wouldn’t make it so aim for $20 million. You probably won’t make it but you’re likely to have made the $1 million on the way. I may have contradicted myself a little then but maybe make them unrealistic but see them for what they are!
4) Do they fit in with the final aim? Are they relevant? For example, our initial final aim was to have a website that someone will happen upon and be engaged and hopefully want some of our products. Once we had got to the point of knowing we probably had the funding for 5 full rooms, we decided we would launch after 5 and build on that. We could have started the website with the first room and added to it but we didn’t want our customers to think we only did space themed bedrooms. At least now hopefully you can see that we do themed rooms. We will build on them as time and money allows. Goal wise that meant we had to have timelines for every room, to achieve that final aim.
5) Ensure there is a time limit to your goals. Every room we did had a timeline based on a final aim of when we wanted to have the room web ready and working back from that date given how much time it takes to get the images up to speed, the photography, the decoration of the room, the suppliers lead times, design time etc. Things cropped up along the way, products were delayed, shelves came in and we decided a re-design was more necessary than hitting a photography deadline.
6) Do they fit with your personal beliefs? Even with a business goal you need to make sure it fits with your values. Work takes up so much of your time you want to make sure it is something you strongly believe in and aligns with you personally. Katy and I may have different tastes but our personal beliefs, moral compass, way of life are similar.
You need to constantly review, modify and update them. These are not set in stone, they will change, things will go wrong. That is fine, that is life. There’s always a way to think about things differently, change the way you do things. December could have been our quietest month as an interiors business but we focused on gifts instead – whether that is to give a Unicorn lover a soft unicorn head for their wall or a mermaid lover an affordable gift tin.
OK so you’ve written them down, whether it is in an organised manner, broken down into steps to form a plan or an ad hoc, notes on your phone kind of way. Whatever suits but they are there.
Next step is working towards achieving them. This is there the action part comes in. A few tips here:
1) Your plan should show you the first step to actually achieving your goals and you need to recognise every achievement. Our office had no heating or desks at first and I remember well a meeting with the amazing graphic designer who designed our logo in the near dark, on the floor in a cold office. Our early goals were to get and build desks (thanks to my father in law for that one) and make the office a nicer place to be. We saw this as an achievement and every step along the way. We did sometimes have to pull ourselves out of a negative moment – we are only human after all to look back at where we had come so far.
2) If a goal is taking too long, revise it. Do not beat yourself up if a goal isn’t attained, just change it. I may have said that a few times but this is about self-belief and realisation that things don’t always go to plan. As I said earlier, I expected google to stick us straight at the top of the rankings, no work needed. Katy the wise web lady had to reign in these silly notions and explain that other than paying for traffic which was absolutely no way to stay top of the rankings long term we had to play the long game, grow organically. She has done lots of background wizardry (why is that better than witchery and bachelor better than spinster but I digress) to make sure that we slowly but surely get seen by people who search for our products.
3) Put your lessons to good use. Change other goals the lesson applies to. Every day is a school day when you are starting out, you can take as much advice as you like and be as prepared as possible but it won’t stop you making your own mistakes or things cropping up that you could never have envisaged. As long as you learn from them, you are achieving.
And my last note is to manage your risks. For example, don’t ignore HMRC or companies house and make sure you do plan forward and have an idea of what you expect this week, this month, this year and the implications of those things not happening and a back-up.
And last of all, and most of all GOOD LUCK. You can do it! You might forget to pick your children up on the odd occasion but you can.