I run marathons. In fact, I’m training for lucky number seven right now.
This isn’t a brag. It’s an illustration of a point: Some things take a lot of planning to accomplish. In running a business, like running a marathon, contractors set goals, make plans and execute.
Marathons are 26 miles and, for reasons readers won’t care about, another .2 miles get tacked on the end for good measure — a total of 26.2 miles. You may have seen the little oval stickers on cars and wondered about them. That’s the driver’s way of saying he or she set a goal, made a plan and executed.
Marathons are the toughest physical things I’ve ever done. Anything worth having is worth suffering for. But the suffering of race day is the tip of a deep iceberg. By the time I make it to race day, I’ve endured 16 weeks of training — the planning and execution of the goal.
I set a goal to run a race. The lead up involves a series of planned smaller goals, like three or four runs a week for months. I tick off those runs one by one, creeping closer to the ultimate goal — crossing that finish line.
It’s no different in running a business or, frankly, managing any major project. If you’re a small contractor, think about your stretch goal for the year. Maybe you want to hit $2 million in revenue. (Pick your own number, but don’t be modest. Really reach for it.) That’s the finish line of the marathon.
In training for that $2-million marathon, you need to set benchmarks. Your training targets are $500,000 each quarter, or about $40,000 per week. I have tough training weeks, where nothing goes right or maybe I miss a run. Likewise, you’ll have tough weeks where business falls short of the benchmark. Maybe you have a $30,000 week, but that gives you inspiration to hustle harder next week to make up for it.
Write down goals and the benchmarks you want to meet and keep them in front of you as often as you can. I have my training schedule posted in my office, so I see it every work day. I also put it on my phone’s lock screen so every time I pick it up, it reminds me of weekly obligations.
In my earlier example, a contractor trying to meet a $2-million revenue goal might post a spreadsheet in his office or on his truck dash that has the YTD revenue. Maybe the phone lock screen can show current revenue and where you should be based on weekly and quarterly benchmarks.
Don’t downplay social accountability, either. Like anyone else, I excel at excuses and rationalizations for missing goals. During training, I tell everyone who’s unluckily in earshot — spouse, friends, family — about my goal. Likewise, if you tell your wife, business partners and family about your financial goal, you’ll get asked questions about it. Guilt over not having satisfactory answers to those questions grows into a powerful motivator. No one likes awkward conversations about how they fell short of a goal.
Crossing that finish line feels great. Likewise, hitting business goals will feel great, whatever those are. Maybe you have a revenue target. Maybe you want to make a major equipment purchase. It’s the same process.
I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of finishing marathons. But I also get an added bonus. I get to show my daughter that seemingly crazy or impossible things are quite possible if you set a goal, make a plan and execute. You’ll get satisfaction out of meeting your business goals if you break them down, make a plan and execute. I can’t, however, promise admiration from your kids.
What do you think? How do you approach big goals in a project or in your business? Email email@example.com and tell me your story.
Stay safe out there, drillers.