A Clear Target is Easier to Hit
Most entrepreneurs have a plan for their business development but not for their personal wealth development. Because most business owners are more knowledgeable and comfortable with the ins and outs of their own business than they are with complex financial matters, they neglect wealth development and, consequently, often pay unnecessary taxes, work longer and harder than necessary to achieve financial independence and security, and may (literally) let millions of dollars slip through their fingers.
Most busy entrepreneurs can benefit enormously by having a customized wealth development plan prepared by a professional adviser who takes the time to understand them, their family and their objectives. Advisers can learn a lot by asking business owners how much (how much what? Money?) they expect to receive today, tomorrow, next week and into the future. It’s even more instructive to ask how much they expect the value of their business and their personal net worth to increase over the same period. What you’ll most likely find is that many are playing blind archery, firing off arrows in random directions hoping to somehow hit a nonexistent target.
There’s the story of the blustery Texan who rushed up to the airline ticket counter and demanded a first-class ticket. “Where would you like to go, sir?” asked the agent. “Doesn’t matter,” the big shot replied, “I’ve got business everywhere.” Unfortunately, a lot of business owners actually operate this way, running around at a high speed with no set direction. Few have clear, definite expectations about income or equity.
This is grievous negligence, as expectations have a great deal to do with results. It’s also a dereliction of managerial duty. It’s up to you to decide—key word: decide—how much money you’ll receive today, this week, this month, this year and beyond. Decide in advance, based on your marketing and management plans, your prescheduled initiatives and actions. This is the responsibility of leadership, whether you’re at the helm of a giant corporation or a solo-operator business.
If you board an airplane and ask the pilot, “Where are we going today? When are we scheduled to arrive?” and they’re not sure of the answer, exit immediately! For the pilot of a business, today’s destination and arrival time are measured in dollars going into the bank account, customers identified for development and a few other key pieces of data. If you’re not sure about these things—if you’re not navigating with these things—the odds of arriving at the right destination by happy accident aren’t good.
Ask a restaurant owner, “How much business are you going to do today?” If he answers, “I don’t know. It depends on who comes in,” that’s a lousy answer. If you’re running a restaurant, you should have a very good idea of how many customers are coming in, if not exactly who they are: You have customers who’ve bought membership cards, so you’re dinging their credit cards on the first of each month and sending them five coupons; you’ve sent birthday cards out with coupons the week before, with a deadline date this week; you’ve faxed the week’s specials to your business lunch customers; and now you have certain expectations based on this activity. Because how much business you’ll do today is not dependent who drops in or the weather or the traffic. It depends on the actions you took to bring in your customers.
Clarity of vision
It’s important to be clear about what you don’t want, what you do want, the income you expect, the net worth increases you expect and the reasons for your expectations. I’m very deliberately using the word “expect” rather than “hope,” “desire” or “would like.”
I’ve long operated my business and managed my finances based on specific numbers and specific expectations. I know the minimum amount of money my time must be worth, what a project must produce and what sales should come from a particular function of promotion. I track, day-by-day, whether or not I’m “on schedule” to hit my income and my wealth targets for the week, month, quarter and year. If you don’t know whether or not you’re on schedule, it’s a safe bet you aren’t.
I have clear mental pictures of what my business and personal lives are to look like. I have detailed, updated plans to support the pictures. And I have benchmarks and targets so I can measure my progress toward the pictures.
I’m very clear about intentions and expectations. Sure, there’s the axiom: if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans. And sure, things go awry. Also, fortunately, unexpected and better opportunities sometimes occur. But imperfect results from clarity are still far superior to random results without it.
Wealth is attracted by clarity
Paul J. Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute and a former insurance salesman who turned himself into a multimillionaire entrepreneur with diverse business interests and real estate investments, wrote, “If you’re not achieving your goals, it’s probably because they’re not clearly defined.” It’s rarely true that an individual lacks or cannot get the essential skills, opportunities or resources needed to achieve his goals; it’s usually a problem with the goals themselves.
Remember: Targets aren’t just things to aim at. Clarity “magnetizes” targets for you. It lets your conscious and subconscious minds work in tandem. Clarity about goals and your progress toward them according to a preset schedule is a powerful force. I’ve personally found that the times I stray from productivity, accomplishment and profit and experience an interruption in the streams of wealth flowing to me are marked by my getting foggy about my own intentions and objectives or negligent in my measurement of progress.
Montgomery Taylor works with individuals and small businesses as a certified public accountant, certified financial planner, certified IRA distribution specialist and registered investment advisor.
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