How To Set Smart Goals for Your Small Business

We have all heard the excuses for not setting goals, mainly people don’t see the value in taking the time to really think about what they want to accomplish in the short-term and how that will affect their long-term success. As a small business owner, it is important to set goals as they serve as a guide in making decisions.

The excuses for not setting goals range from I’m too busy, I know what I need to do, I have been doing it this way and it works or I don’t set goals because I am afraid I won’t reach them. Here are 7 reasons why goals are useful and worth creating:

1. Contribute to the success of the company

2. Set specific expectations

3. Create clear measurable performance standards

4. Self-motivate

5. Focus on what is important

6. Boost job and personal satisfaction

7. Help to prioritize efficiently

Goal setting might appeal to common sense, but sense in goal-setting isn’t very common. When setting goals make sure they are SMART goals, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

Specific: Goals must be clear and specific. Goals should say exactly what is expected, when and how much. When goals are specific, progress can be monitored.

Measurable: If goals are not measurable, then it is not possible to monitor progress toward successful completion. Milestones are important and should be recognized.

Achievable: Goals must be realistic and attainable, a little stretch is okay but a common mistake is setting goals too high, those types of goals are easy to ignore.

Relevant: Goals must be an important tool in the grand scheme of reaching your vision.

Time-bound: Goals must have starting points, ending points and fixed durations. Commitment to deadlines helps to focus your efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date.

We’d love to hear why you set goals in the comments.

Additional resources for goal setting

Set Goals, WikiHow

SMART Goal Setting: A Surefire Way To Achieve Your Goals, Goal Setting Guide

Source Micro Business Perspectives


Why You’ll Fail at Marketing

Emineo Media Fustrated Business

I don’t know what it is about Marketing, but everyone on earth seems to think they can do it. And yet I see so many people NOT doing it or wasting thousands of dollars and Emineo Media Fustrated Businessnot getting results.  I see business owners try the same things over and over,  wasting more money, more time, and more energy. If I had 1/10th of what business owners waste on stuff that doesn’t work, I’d be the most successful marketing consultant on the planet.  And yet, so many business owners would rather go it alone and try and fail and try again and fail again rather than reach out and get professional help. I don’t get it.

I know there are those out there who will always try to do it themselves, so in the spirit of not getting it, here are the top 21 reasons why most small business owners fail at marketing:

  1. Guessing – Great marketing isn’t an accident. It takes research, educated decisions, testing, tracking and measuring. Guesswork will leave you customer-less and broke.
  2. Doing what everyone else is doing– Every business is different and your marketing mix should be too.  Following the crowd isn’t going to help you stand out from the competition!
  3. Listening to sales people Marketing is a long term strategy, not a special advertisement, publication, or website; but every sales rep you come in contact with will try to convince you otherwise. Marketing is a process – a long term strategy, there is no magic pill and don’t let a slick sales person try to tell you otherwise.
  4. Not asking questions –Question EVERYTHING about your business and ask everyone you come into contact with as many questions as possible to learn, grow, and constantly improve.
  5. Doing nothing – It’s simple, if you don’t Market your business, you will fail.
  6. Putting all your eggs in one basket – Marketing is like investing, the more diversified your strategy, the better off you will be. Don’t invest all your time and resources in one medium or on one marketing tool – mix it up.
  7. Not tracking results – How the heck are you going to know what works and what doesn’t if you don’t track the results? If you’re not tracking you’re guessing, and we covered that in #1!
  8. Assuming you have all the answers – Yes, I know: you know your business better than anyone. But do you know marketing?  I mean do you REALLY know how and where to reach potential customers and convince them to buy from you?
  9. Not talking to your customers – No one knows your value – or faults – better than the people who actually buy from you. Talk to your customers – often. It’ll provide valuable insight and ideas.
  10. Ignoring your competition– If you don’t know how you’re different from your competition how are potential customers supposed to? Knowing your competition’s strengths and weaknesses will help you differentiate.
  11. Not setting goals –Goals keep us on track; they give us direction. Without them you’re wandering aimlessly and most likely wasting a lot of time and money.
  12. Not building an email list – I don’t understand how anyone can market a business in today’s world without an email list! Email is the easiest and most inexpensive way to stay in touch with customers and prospects.  If you aren’t building a list you’re missing out on huge opportunities.
  13. Not having  an opt in form – Emailing current and past customers is a great start, but what about the people who visit your website, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages and then go away never to be heard from again? Wouldn’t’ it be nice to engage the serious window shoppers in some way? An opt-in form is the way to do it!
  14. Selling all the time.  We’ve all met the slick schmoozy salesy types, right? And how long does it take you to high-tail it in the opposite direction? Don’t be one of those. An effective marketing strategy eliminates the need to sell all the time… really!
  15. Assuming because you have a great product or service you don’t need a marketing strategy – Sure, some products and services might market themselves, but that’s rare. Real marketing success takes strategy, planning, and work.
  16. Assuming that just because you have a good product or service you don’t need a referral system– Again, there are some products and services that people just love to talk about, but building a successful business solely on organic referrals and “buzz” is rare.  Getting solid referrals, consistently takes planning and solid execution. .
  17. Assuming anyone with a pulse is your client- Repeat after me:  “NOT everyone is a potential client for me”. Now look in the mirror and repeat that every day! Find your niche – that segment of the population you are born to serve and you will uncover a gold mine!
  18. Not building relationships – I can’t stress enough how important this is. Hiding behind your computer screen, desk, or counter isn’t going to get you the level of success you want. You have to get out there – mingle, be helpful, connect people, and build relationships with the right people!
  19. Spending all your time networking in the wrong places –Not every networking group is right for you. Find the ones that will help you get where you want to go and avoid the ones that won’t.
  20. Ignoring the internet – Facebook and Twitter may not be right for your business, but chances are your target market is going somewhere on line for information about your product or service.  Your job is to find out where they’re going and be there!
  21. Not hiring a professional- If you want to build an addition onto your home would you do it yourself or hire a professional?  I mean, you know your home better than anyone, right? So why not do it yourself? Ridiculous, right? So then why would you try to “add on” – or grow – your business yourself?  Hire a professional who has the right tools and knows the ins and outs of growing a business

Source Carolyn Higgins


What Do Google Privacy Changes Mean To You?

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Google announced this week that it is rolling out a new, main privacy policy that covers the majority of its products. The company is consolidating over 60 privacy notices into the main privacy policy. It’s keeping a few separate for “legal and other reasons”.

Do you think Google’s privacy strategy is good or bad? Let us know in the comments.

“Regulators globally have been calling for shorter, simpler privacy policies—and having one policy covering many different products is now fairly standard across the web,” Google says.

Google users have been receiving emails about the changes:

Google Privacy Changes

You know that whole “Google+ is Google.” mantra? Essentially what the new privacy policy means is that Google+ is in fact Google. It also means that Gmail is Google. YouTube is Google. Essentially, it affirms what we’ve been saying for quite some time. Google is the product, and all of Google’s services are basically features of that product – the way Facebook is the product, and the news feed, photos, videos, chat, etc. are features of that product.

In Google’s case, this concept embodies the majority of its products – the ones that aren’t being kept separate for “legal and other reasons”.

“The main change is for users with Google Accounts,” explains Alma Whitten, Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering at Google. “Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

Whitten says Google’s “Search Plus Your World” (or SPYW) is a good example of what Google can do when its products are one. Not everyone agrees that that is a “good” example. In fact, the move has been highly controversial, as is the new approach to privacy.

“Today we can also do things like make it easy for you to read a memo from Google Docs right in your Gmail, or add someone from your Gmail contacts to a meeting in Google Calendar,” Whitten adds. “But there’s so much more that Google can do to help you by sharing more of your information with … well, you. We can make search better—figuring out what you really mean when you type in Apple, Jaguar or Pink.”

“We can provide more relevant ads too,” says Whitten. “For example, it’s January, but maybe you’re not a gym person, so fitness ads aren’t that useful to you. We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day. Or ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends’ names, are accurate because you’ve typed them before. People still have to do way too much heavy lifting, and we want to do a better job of helping them out.”

The changes go into effect on March 1.

What are the people saying?

Here are some quotes from a WebmasterWorld thread on the topic:

Wow – what are they smoking in Mountain View?

At best this will cause massive bad publicity at worst it could be the start of a slippery slope for Google. I think this one may even capture the general public’s attention.

Can’t opt out? People are going to bail out!

The question will be will gmail users opting in (to continue using the service)? How many are going to give up their established gmail accounts? I know many gmail users who do not use any other G products… and some with gmail that use bing for search. Will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

Some Twitter reaction:

Uploaded photo of myself in Speedo to comply with Google’s new privacy policy. 42 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

re: Privacy; Google has been “tracking” us from day one. It just feels worse now because we use our real names online. 7 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Amazing to see the latest Google privacy policy changes. In terms of brand exercise it can only do more harm than good. 1 hour ago via Twitter for Mac · powered by @socialditto

As an admitted #Google cheerleader, I just can’t get into a froth yet over privacy changes; assumed this was the direction all along. 1 minute ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Two-thirds of users say they plan to cancel their Google account because of the new privacy policy — but will they? 1 hour ago via Safari on iOS · powered by @socialditto

Google dismisses criticism of its new privacy policy as “uninformed” & “overreaction”; also promote their new Google Android Endoscopy app. 2 hours ago via Buffer · powered by @socialditto

Just got the new “easier and shortened” #Google Privacy policy. It’s easy. “You have no privacy. Thank you.” 1 hour ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

Google+ Growth

The whole thing obviously bodes well for Google+ numbers. Google announced last week that Google+ has surpassed 90 million users. That’s a lot for the short time that’s been around, but it helps growth when it’s all tied to “the greater Google”. Sign up for a Google account now, and you’re signing up for Google+, Gmail, and nearly everything else.

That said, there are other forces at play for Google+ that could help that growth continue. It’s starting to break more into the mainstream. You have things like Anderson Cooper telling people to add him to their Circles. Remember when you first started to see TV shows tell people to follow them on Twitter? That helped Twitter immensely, no doubt. If more follow Cooper’s lead, that’s going to be huge for Google+. And with Google+’s impact on search results, why wouldn’t more want to do this?

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More celebrities are joining Google+ – another thing that helped Twitter gain steam. Lady Gaga, one of the biggest celebrities in pop culture, currently, just joined Google+ last week. Expect more and more to follow.

And of course, there’s good old fashioned advertising. Google, historically not a big television advertiser, is much more about some TV ads these days, including Google+ specific ads.

Competitive Strategy

We’ve written a number of times (including as recently as last week) about how much sense it would make for Facebook to get more into search to compete more directly with Google. Not just as a social network, but as a web company. It still makes sense, and perhaps even more so now that Google has made this new move with its privacy policy. What the policy has done has, for all intents and purposes, made Google one entity, rather than numerous products. One big fat rival to Facebook for users’ time spent online, user data and ultimately advertisers’ dollars spent trying to reach those users.

Facebook is amping up its advertising offerings in a number of ways ahead of its huge IPO. And on that note, John Battelle points out an interesting social ad strategy from Google, where AdSense ads are allowing people to share them back to Google+. Battelle writes:

Why am I on about this? Because some weeks ago, Facebook told a bunch of advertisers and third parties (FM was one of them) that it was no longer OK to integrate Facebook actions into third party advertisements. This was always in their policies, but everyone was pretty much ignoring it – including most of the largest advertisers on the planet. After all, it’d be pretty hard to tell major television advertisers to stop asking viewers to “Like us on Facebook”. But for some reason, Facebook recently decided enough was enough online, and won’t let folks do exactly the same thing – with interactive functionality – online. You won’t be seeing ads on any site that integrate Facebook Likes, Shares, or other verbs, unless the advertisers paying for those ads have cut special deals with Facebook. (Or, of course, unless Facebook launches its own ad network…)

Makes you wonder about the potential of such a network. A Facebook version of AdSense. They certainly have the data, and Facebook is certainly all over the web. We’ve written on this before in the past .

Some have pointed out that Google’s strategy has kind of an Apple feel to it, in terms of having more control over what users do on its various products, and making sure that users have a “beautiful” experience, as Larry Page put it. This is quite interesting, considering the way Google has portrayed itself as almost the anti-Apple (particularly with Android) in terms of being more “open” – a philosophy that has been criticized a great deal by pundits.

Apple’s monster quarter made Google’s disappointing quarter look bad.

Googlers jumping ship

But back to Facebook for a minute. There’s also the competition between these two companies at the talent level. Plenty of Googlers have jumped ship to Facebook. Others are finding other ways to go. We know SPYW isn’t sitting well with some former Googlers, and apparently it’s not with some current Googlers either, and according to a report from PandoDaily, Google CEO Larry Page has basically told those employees who have a problem with it to get out and not let the door hit them on the ass. According to one report, even Foursquare (who has in recent times expressed interest in working with Google) is poaching a fair amount of talent from the company.

Wrapping up

Google has taken some very interesting turns since Larry Page took over as CEO. Whether these turns are in the company’s (and users’) best interests in the long run remains to be seen. Either way, some of the choices Google has made have proven to be incredibly controversial both among users, and even with insiders. Many have expressed intentions of stopping their use of Google products. If too many decide to do this, it’s obviously going to be a problem. But how many Google users (and that’s users of any Google product) are really ready to stop using every single Google product? For some that’s going to be quite a change of lifestyle. There’s no question that those making complaints about Google’s businesses practices (as well as privacy watchdogs) are going to have a field day with this, whether Google is in the wrong or not.

Is Google in the wrong here? Tell us what you think.

Source Web Pro News