What’s another year?

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Winding back to the end of 2015; I just finished my planning for 2016. I know it sounds so organised, but far from it. I didn’t really know what I am going to do and where to focus on.

My list at the time looked like this:

Improve Social Media Skills and create Plan
Develop sellable products and services based on customer profiles and publish them (transparency)
Finish Entrepreneurs on Fire platform
Write and publish Entrepreneurs Guide
Clarify customer niche and drill further down (relates to products and services)
Help 6 entrepreneurs to start a business from scratch
Spend 10% of my time to support student organisations and get involved

One year later, I am happy to say, that I’ve done all of it except the book. I didn’t get it finished. Instead, I published a mini book (The Secret Key to a Successful Business)
I helped 9 start-ups to a successful start and I got really involved in 6 different student and youth organisations (loved every minute of it).

Most businesses I know have a very similar approach, but can you see something wrong with this?

Only a few of the listed items are actually measurable, the rest is very vague. For example “Improve Social Media Skills and create Plan”, how do you measure that?
How do I know that I actually did this and how do I know if I done it well?

The mistake I’ve made was listing actions instead of results. This is the typical “How To” process approach in its extreme form. I defined actions without knowing where to go with this.

Now I am sitting in front of this list with no way of measuring if I was successful with it. Yes, I’ve done lots of Social Media stuff, but what for?
It is easy to think having lots of connections in Social Media is good. That’s what we are told all the time. Now I am thinking, what is good about it if I don’t know what to do with it?

Many of us (me included) just follow what we’re told, especially in areas new to us. We hear these great stories about how X made 100.000 because X had 10.000 followers on LinkedIn. This is presented in a way to make us believe the only reason X made a 100.000 was that X had 10.000 followers.
I managed to get over 12.000 followers on LinkedIn, but for what? You might say they are all potential customers but are they? How do I know if I don’t know where I am going with this?

These are common mistakes and we all fall for it. To avoid this to happen next year, here are a couple of tips:

Take a piece of paper and write down the main reason Why you are running a business in the first place and What your business is about. I hope you know what that is (if not read my FREE eBook).

For example, my Why and What is the following:
“To help entrepreneurs and change-makers to create successful businesses and positively change the lives of everyone involved.”

Now make a list of all the things you want to do in the coming year and question it against your “Why”.
Make sure to only list expected results, not actions.
Now define a measure for each list item (when do you know that you’ve done it successfully?)
Under each of these items list the actions you think might get you there.

The main items stay fixed, but the actions might change. You will find that certain actions don’t actually improve the measurement after a few weeks or month. Knowing this allows you to adjust your actions accordingly to achieve your goal.

You might have to change the way you think about success and your business and you might have to become accountable for your actions. But if you want to look at your results next year and the numbers to reflect your actual success you need to make sure that you can measure it. And that sometimes means to fail at some of the points. But now you know why and what to do about it.

I wish you a great 2017 and all the success you can measure.

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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