Setting Goals That Convert


I am sure you have heard the phrase…

Time is money.

This is even more evident for entrepreneurs and freelancers.  YOUR time is YOUR money. 

Are you throwing your money away?  Are you wasting your time?

Have you ever heard the term opportunity cost?  Opportunity cost is defined as:

A benefit, profit or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else.

Every action you take, takes time away from some other action.  If you WASTE valuable time on something that doesn’t enhance your business, you are taking time away from something that could benefit your business.

If you are not focused on what matters; you are focused on what doesn’t matter.

As entrepreneurs and freelancers, we are focused on the conversion process.  We are interested in converting traffic to leads, converting those leads to clients or customers, and ultimately, converting those clients or customers to repeat business.

We are also focused on converting our time into money.  We want a return on our time investment.

Are you doing everything within your power to maximize your effectiveness in this process?

I am going to ask you two questions that could dramatically impact the success of your business.

  1. Are your daily activities and objectives aligned with your goals?
  2. Do you have systems and processes in place to help you remain laser focused on accomplishing the daily objectives?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions you are working inefficiently and leaving money on the table.

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Entrepreneurs without focused goals might feel busy.  They might feel like they are working a lot.  They might be performing a lot of tasks.  However, those tasks might not be yielding anything of value.  Essentially, they are busy, but getting nothing accomplished.  

Consider the following story and see if it sounds familiar. 

An entrepreneur wants to start an online or freelance business.  The entrepreneur goes to the source of all things informational…

The Internet.  

The entrepreneur does a bunch of research, and ultimately buys an educational program or class.  The entrepreneur takes the class and begins following the program and establishing their business.  They run into some challenges and think, “I just need to change _____.”  Maybe the entrepreneur finishes the class; maybe s/he doesn’t.  It really doesn’t matter.  Because rather than follow-through on developing their business, they begin searching for more information again.  They register for another class.  The cycle continues in perpetuity.

The entrepreneur never actually gets their business off the ground.  Rather, they become a professional consumer of information, constantly seeking the next best thing.  The entrepreneur is VERY BUSY doing things; however, the things they are doing are fragmented and unfocused.  Even if they are doing some of the tasks exceptionally well, it doesn’t matter, because it is not part of a bigger functioning system or process.

Why do people do this?  It is simple.  People are pain avoiders and pleasure seekers.  Because they don’t like pain, they want to take the path of least resistance.    

They are looking for the secret or shortcut to success.  I am going to give that to you now.

There is no shortcut.

I am sorry to be the harbinger of bad news.  Unfortunately, excellent marketing has led people to believe that there is a quick fix or easy way.  Look no further than the weight loss industry for evidence of this nonsense; “lose 10 pounds in 2 days.”

The good news is that you are here.  

The educational material and support you will receive here will lend itself to your entrepreneurial success.  I assure you of that.  The secret is that you must develop laser focus on developing systems and processes to operationalizing the content.  

Information alone does not yield results.

You need a plan of action; a system that helps you push through the challenges and difficulties that you are GUARANTEED to face.  There is no amount of information alone that will help you negotiate this process.

On a regular basis, I see new entrepreneurs find a new concept and immediately begin implementing it in their business, with no regard for the end goal or objective.   For example, simply building an email list for the sake of building an email list is probably not the best idea.  If you are in the copywriting business, and I GAVE you a list of 10,000 people today who are only interested in puppies and have no interest in copywriting, is that going to help you?  

Puppies are cute, but that isn’t going to help your business.

What if it took you 10,000 hours to build this list?  Is that a good use of your time?

I am not saying having an email list is a bad goal.  To the contrary, having an email list is an excellent idea; it is probably one of the single most important things to an online marketer.  However, I am saying that you need to be very specific in your purpose for having the list.  If your goal is to monetize, or make money off your list, then you need to align your list-building activities with the purpose of the list.  

For example, if you are a web designer and you want a list of potential clients, you should advertise (either with or without money) in places potential clients frequent.  In other words, don’t go to the “I love puppies” group on Facebook to get subscribers for your web development business.

I also see another major error relating to goal setting.  When I read goals like, I want to make $100,000 a month (even though I don’t have a business yet), I want a steady stream of clients (without knowing who my potential clients are), or I want to lose weight.  Why?  Because those aren’t goals; they are wishes or dreams.  They are subjective to the individual.  That means they potentially have different meanings to different people, e.g. your idea of steady stream of clients and my idea of steady stream of clients might be different.  

Goals should be very specific, with a clear linkage between the goal and the required action to complete the goal.  This can only be accomplished if you are crystal clear with your goal.  For example, if you say you want to lose weight, do you really want to lose weight, or do you want to lose fat? Let me illustrate further; these two people WEIGH the same.

How is this possible? Muscle actually weighs more than fat.  But, I digress.  The point here is to ask, what is the goal?  Do you see the ambiguity in the “goal” to lose weight?  Do they want to lose weight, develop “six-pack” abs, or some other fitness metric?   The goal is so poorly defined that you can’t possibly know if you are accomplishing it or even making progress toward it.

If you want to “test” your goal, ask yourself, if someone else read my goal, would they understand what I am trying to achieve?  Setting goals is not a complicated process.  When you set goals, they simply must be SMART.  What does that mean?

There is a very clear framework in which to craft your goals.  You should always write your goals in a SMART format, which means:

Specific – The goal should be clear and well-defined.

Measurable – Progress and completion of your goal must be measurable.  This ensures that you are able to track your progress on your goal.  In addition, this provides an avenue for improvement.  Never forget; if it can be measured, it can be improved.

Attainable – It is essential that it is within the realm of possible to achieve your goal.  Your goal can be difficult; but not impossible.  For example, setting a goal to walk on the sun is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE.  In fact, you want to set goals that are extremely challenging.      

Relevant – Your goal must be relevant and important to YOU.

Time-bound – Goals must have a deadline.  

Which statement is SMART?

  1. I want to be rich!
  2. I want to make $20,000 a month in my freelance business in the next 24 months by increasing the number of clients I serve by 10 and increasing my rates by 30%.

Having a SMART goal is the first step.  However, having a goal alone is not going to make things happen.  Then, you must take action toward completing your goal.  This is best accomplished by beginning with the end in mind.  What do I mean?

Start from your goal and begin working backward, breaking your goal into primary objectives.  The primary objectives should support the goal.  Then, work backward from those objectives and create nesting or secondary objectives.  The nesting or secondary objectives should support the primary objectives.  Finally, break the secondary or nesting objectives down into tasks.  All of the objectives, primary, secondary, and tasks, should only be focused on one thing.  In other words, you shouldn't have an objective that reads, “Increase Facebook advertising by 50% AND increase LinkedIn advertising by 30%.”  Those should be separated into 2 separate objectives.  

In the end, this process creates a link between every task and the goal, with distinct steps in between.  It ensures every activity has a purpose.  It will be illustrated in a process map that will look like this:

When you follow this incredibly simple, yet powerful process, there is literally no goal you won’t be able to accomplish.

Let’s go back to the original questions:

  1. Are your daily activities and objectives aligned with your goals?
  2. Do you have systems and processes in place to help you remain laser focused on accomplishing the daily objectives?

If you follow this system, your goals will be SMART; in essence, this ensures the goals do what you want them to do.  The goal is focused specifically what you want to achieve.  Will the daily activities and objectives be aligned with your goals?  You will have created direct links between the goal, objectives, nesting objectives, and tasks.  Will this create systems and processes in place to help you remain laser focused on accomplishing the daily objectives?  Absolutely!

If you have created the direct links, by simply completing the tasks you are completing the goal.  You will not be working on things that are not instrumental or necessary for the completion of your goal.

Your actions as an entrepreneur can be linked to the bottom line.  This system ensures that your actions will make you the most efficient and effective business person you can be.

Ultimately, you will be converting your time from unproductive to productive and profitable.

Isn't that the goal?


Ari Zelmanow is an expert freelance copywriter who believes in using the science of psychology to influence consumers. Known as the "Professor of Persuasion," he's developed a reputation for being one of the most action-driven copywriters the field has to offer. Feel free to learn more about Ari and his services here.