Planning to Realize Your Goals

Recently, I wrote about about creating specific, compelling goals that pull you towards what you want in your business, career and life. It is important to have a goal written down, and it is equally as important to the write down the reasons why you want that specific goal. The drive to accomplish your goal is in the reasons why you want it. With a specific goal in mind you have your target, and by being conscious of your reasons, you will maintain the drive to accomplish it. The final thing you need is a plan. Some people are natural planners. They are able to look out over time into the future and visualize the actions and events that need to happen in order to get what they want. For some of us though, this doesn’t come as easily. We like to fly by the seat of our pants, or “wing it” as they say. Generally, people who like to wing it are not as comfortable dealing in the realm of details and specifics. They are classic “big picture” people. They like concepts and ideas, and are good at creating vision and setting strategy, which makes for a good leadership. While big picture thinking will direct us toward our target, the achievement of a goal actually happens in the details. This is where the rubber meets the road. Think about that tire for a moment. The goal of a tire is the purpose for which it will be used. Does the tire handle best on snow and ice, or would it be better used as a formula one racing slick? Stating that you are going to create the best snow and ice tire is not enough to make it happen. The design of a tire starts as a big picture strategy decision, and ends with the specific details of the precise rubber compounds to mix and the depth and design of the tread mold. To be good in sales, you have to have both big picture and detail management skills. You must create a vision, set the strategy, and lead people to the goal. You must also create a specific and realistic plan for yourself and others so that all involved know what it takes to accomplish the objective. A good account plan will have both a goal and a specific plan. Sales account plans are often something salespeople just create because their management asks them for it. The process of planning though, actually begins to create the desired result in advance. By being more specific in your account and territory planning, you will find that you are better able to spot the resources you need and potential problems and pitfalls far in advance. This will result in more wins and in cutting your losses sooner on weak opportunities. Also, you will have a bargaining chip with your management, in that you can show what you need in terms of time, money and resources to accomplish the sales objectives that are asked of you. In making your sales and business plans, you start with the goal and the reasons. Then you create a plan. You take it down to a level of detail so that anyone could follow your instructions. This way, you are assured of getting the results you want because you planned them out in advance. When people fail to reach their goals, it is usually due to one or two reasons: 1) They forgot why they were doing it and lost their drive, 2) They didn’t know precisely how to reach their goal. Without a specific plan, you can get easily derailed along the way because you didn’t know how much time, money, skill, or other resources it would take to get what you want. Plan out your sales activities. Plan out your quarter. Plan out your week – yes your week – in advance. Plan out your day. Plan out your sales calls. Plan out the questions you are going to ask, just as you would plan out an important presentation. Remember to have a goal and the reasons in mind for each plan. Build plans – you will be more successful. Finally, don’t be concerned as to whether planning will make you an “anally retentive” individual. Successful people set goals and plan for what they want – they don’t concern themselves with such labels.

Choosing the Right Business Name

Sometimes, new entrepreneurs are in such a rush to get started at their businesses that they jump right into working with customers without giving much thought to their BUSINESS NAME. “I’ll just do business under my own name for a while, until I find something I like.” While it seems easy at the time, you might want to re-think the plan to change business names down the road. You will find that, as your professional recognition and customer base grow, people have started to IDENTIFY you with the name of your company. A name change in mid-stream can be costly and confusing.

First, you will lose ground in the marketing arena — it takes time and effort to build up BRAND RECOGNITION, and that time is lost when you change names. You may also lose customers to the competition — what are they to think when they go looking for “Joe’s Mobile Car Wash” in the yellow pages and you’ve changed your name to “Fast and Easy Auto Detailing?” They might think that you’ve gone out of business and it’s time to find someone else to clean their cards. And finally, changing names can cause you increased PAPERWORK and EXPENSE — changing your bank accounts, credit cards, marketing materials, incorporation documents, DBA registration, etc. So why not get it right the first time? Here are some suggestions for choosing a business name that will serve you well for years to come.


When people hear the name of your company, will they be able to REMEMBER it 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 3 hours, or a week later? When they decide to hunt you up on the web or in the phone book, will they be able to easily recall your business name? It doesn’t matter if you are choosing a fictitious business name or using your own — the same rules apply. Your name should be UNIQUE enough that it will stick in a potential customer’s mind — “Smith’s Gym” isn’t going to be nearly as easy to remember as “Work That Body.”

You also want to stay away from names that are likely to be CONFUSED with another company. You may think it’s a cute idea to come up with a name that closely resembles (without exactly copying) another company’s name. But calling your personal coaching company “Joys-R-Us” is confusing, unoriginal, and likely to bring about a lawsuit! And beware of phrases or ACRONYMS that are overused in your profession. You wouldn’t believe how many Professional Organizers use some combination of words that spell out SOS (usually “Someone’s Organizing Solutions”). Your company will stand out more if your name is truly unique.


However, the next question is “when they do recall it, is it easy enough to spell that they can immediately find your listing?” You want to stay away from challenging spellings and pronunciations. Calling your restaurant “Phine Phoods” is just asking for trouble — how is your customer going to know to look under “p” instead of “f” in the phone book? And if your last name is Piccalopoupoulis, you may be better off creating a fictitious business name. A good rule of thumb to follow is to pay attention to what happens when you tell other people your name — if you are always having to SPELL or PRONOUNCE it slowly, it will be hard for people remember and find later on.

This is particularly important if you are planning to turn your business name into a DOMAIN name. Websites with long or hard-to-spell names get overlooked during standard searches. And try to avoid having to include a hyphen or underscore in your name to make it appropriate for the web. Short, snappy, easy-to-remember names work best in the translation from brick-and-mortar to internet.


Will customers learn something specific, unique, or descriptive about your business, just from hearing the name? Will they get a feel for WHAT you provide or HOW you provide it? Many individual service providers try to sound like high-end firms by using some derivative of their first and last name for their company identity – “Joanna Carrol and Associates,” or “JC Consulting,” or “Carroll and Company.” But what does that really tell a potential customer about your company? I don’t know if you are an insurance agent or an attorney or a professional organizer. Include something in your name that describes your product or service — “JC Graphic Design” — so customers aren’t left WONDERING what type of business you have.

You can also include some information about those special CHARACTERISTICS that make your business DIFFERENT from the competition. Okay — so you’ve told me that you are a printer. Why should I hire you instead of the printer down the street? You might be faster, cheaper, provide better quality, have more experience, offer a higher-end product, or provide more services than the other guy. If it’s appropriate and pertinent, include one or two of those traits — “JC Full-Service Graphic Design” — in your name.


If you are joining an industry that allows for “branching out,” be careful about giving your company a name that traps you in a very small service area. For example, a company that starts out putting in tile floors — but has plans to expand into vinyl, hardwood, and carpeting down the road — wouldn’t want a name like “TileMasters.” Something more along the lines of “FloorMasters” will give the company the FLEXIBILITY they need to grow and change later on.

And if you have intentions of ever expanding your service area, you need to be careful about a GEOGRAPHICALLY limiting business name. “Hair Over Atlanta” isn’t going to work as well when you open locations in Seattle and Los Angeles and New York. Be sure to check the US Patent And Trademark Office’s online database to make sure your name is available for national use before you start printing it on your cards.