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The new year brings fresh challenges and opportunities



New Member
The week between 'Santa arriving' and the beginning of the New Year is a great time to spend thinking about both - personal and business plans and goals. I have a posted a number thoughts on goal setting in the past but it is always good to review and reflect ..... at the end of the day, week, month or year.

Over the last couple of days I decided to invest a few hours to review what I did right and what I did wrong in 2010 and think about what I want to do in 2011.

This is something you might want to do too. You may even identify with my reflections, as in 2010 I set too many short term goals and got overwhelmed by too many projects, too many challenges, not enough focus and made a number of simple 'errors in judgement' which I thankfully, managed to correct before they did any long term damage. Despite all the books, cd's etc. I would still advocate regular progress reviews to ensure a sustainable 'tight grip on the reins'

To accomplish anything in life, in business, in a fitness regime etc, it helps if you have some idea of what you want to achieve in the long term as the result of your current actions. That's simply called setting a goal. The whole purpose of setting goals is to plan your life rather than take life as it comes.

It never ceases to amaze me how well people can plan for their holidays or a trip to the Sales but how much they struggle with everything else. Perhaps escape is easier to do .....than to actively plan to achieve change!

Personal Development study reminds us that there are only four ways to improve your personal and business life.

You can START something new or you can STOP something which doesn't work for you.


You can do MORE of something which worked for you or you can do LESS of something which didn't.

I have colleagues who tell me that "it's ok for you because you have 'more time' than I do! By the time I get home, it's late and then have something to eat, speak to the family, watch a bit of tv to help me relax ..... it's time to go to bed. How can I find time to set goals?"

More Time! We all have the same number of minutes and hours etc but the time factor isn't what's most relevant. It is the determination to apply the principles behind 'having a plan' Perhaps the rationale should be better planning, clearer goal setting .... more frequent reviews as we all need more effective and powerful long range goals to help us deal with the 'inevitable' short term obstacles.

The most important part of goal-setting is knowing exactly what it is you want. Once you decide what that is, write it down! After you have written your goals down, keep them somewhere where you can see them daily. As you achieve each one, check it off .... pat yourself on the back, then quickly ...... add another.

I begin by reviewing my yearly goals. If I've been good this year, I'll be rewarded by seeing that most of them have been accomplished or at least partially accomplished.

Since I got into the habit of reviewing my goals weekly, I've already got a pretty good idea of my accomplishments/shortcomings this past year and how to apply the lessons learned.

In addition to reviewing, I also ask myself the following questions while reflecting on my own goals and progress:

Reflection # 1 Identify Your Greatest Accomplishments In 2010? If you are not sure .....ask a trusted colleague.

Even if 2010 was a particularly challenging year for you, odds are if you look close enough there's something somewhere to be proud of, something you could learn, something you could replicate, something you could change, something you could do better and so on.

Reflection # 2 Analyze What You Learned from Each Accomplishment?

Now that you have identified your greatest accomplishments, go back to each one and consider exactly what you learned or how you were challenged by each of them.

Reflection # 3 Identify Your Biggest Disappointments Of 2010?

Practically every company and individual resists analyzing their mistakes. That's a shame because this is where the best learning originates from.

Reflection # 4 Analyze What You Learned from Each Failure or Disappointment?

No matter how great everything in life is going - we all make mistakes. The trick here is to really analyze them, what preceded them, what could you have done differently, and how can you prevent them in the future.

Reflection # 5 Identify How You Limited Yourself and How Can You Stop It?

Were there certain actions you took or didn't take that came back to bite you?

In order to make sure you don't place yourself in that position again - you need to bring these self-defeating actions to the surface, confront them and most importantly determine what you must do differently to make sure you don't make the same mistakes all over again.

Reflection # 6 Analyze the Information You Have Gathered?

The goal of this exercise is not simply to understand yourself and your business better but to actually use the information gleaned to make certain that projected activity for 2011 surpasses that of 2010.

What are the positive takeaways from answering each question? What do you learn about yourself or your business that you didn't realize or weren't thinking about? Obviously, having this list isn't going to do it all, you still need to take the lesson (s) learned and USE THEM!

By learning to see our challenges as opportunities, we take our power back from the situations, circumstances, and outcomes of our lives. Our ability to appreciate difficulties, learn from them, and use them to our advantage, gives us an important insight into who we really are and how to create success and fulfillment in a conscious, deliberate, and innovative way.

The purpose here is to build in to your schedule, your interactions, your management style or whatever else you've surfaced in the previous questions and build yourself a new and better approach.

Once you complete this activity, consider putting it all together into a solid long term personal strategic plan which is the single smartest thing you can do to position yourself for success in 2011.

Quote for the Day: "I used to say that I hoped things would change, until I learned that they would only change ...... when I changed"
Scottish Business Owner

Scottish Business Owner

New Member
Hi John,

I've really missed these sorts of posts on the forum so it's great to see them making a come back! I have to be honest though as far as SBF is concerned it's been a pretty disappointing year. The forums have't really went anywhere which leaves me with a bit of a dilemma as to what to do with them in 2011.

As much as I think your post is excellent i'm probably not going to do much goal setting. The reason being that i'm starting to see planning at best as guess work on a future I know nothing about. I've heard all the sayings about failing and planning. For me too many business get caught up in plans that just aren't reality so this year I for one i'm just going to grab things by the scruff of the neck and go for it and see where it goes.

At some point it may be that it needs to go in a different direction but i'll deal with that when it comes. What do others think about this? Will you put specific plans in place or will you be a little more fuid about where things go?


New Member

Apologies for the length of the reply but .... it started out short.

Forum participation is like any other kind of pr and marketing in that it relies on the 'drip, drip, drip effect and although, as you suggest that "the forum hasn't really gone anywhere" my question would be: where did you want it to go?

I think, and would suggest that there would be complete accord from other forum members, that the SBF is the best platform in Scotland to network with other SME sector businesses and as such, an excellent source of information/advice for that sector.

1700 + members and 21,000 posts is no mean feat.

I’d like to be able to claim that every business owner I try to help winds up with new found sales and windfall profits every year, just because they've known me.

Unfortunately, that simply isn’t true – and anyone who makes that kind of claim is either a fool or a conman; or both.

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it. Rather, it's that we aim too low and we reach it.” Michelangelo.

The truth is, no business-building tool – no matter how powerful will work for people unless they USE IT. And frankly, while thousands of people are perfectly willing to pay big money for strategies and tactics with the power to grow their businesses, too few ever put those tools to work.

It’s no secret that the strategies and tactics that served marketers so well for more than a century have suddenly begun to lose their effectiveness.

In the old days, you could simply barge into 'prospects’ lives and shove a promotion in their faces – a forum, a direct mail letter, a print ad, or a TV or radio spot. The vast majority would simply ignore your offer, of course – but if even 1% heeded your promotion and became customers, you could grow your organisation slowly.

When you try to become visible 'positioning' to your prospects by using the same marketing strategy as your competitors – and especially your larger, older, better established competitors – you pretty much GUARANTEE nobody will notice you.

Simply standing out from the crowd and being “findable” (and highly desirable) by your best prospects and selected market should be enough to attract a flood of new forum members.

If the Tories are to be believed and things 'will get a lot harder' next year then for the small business sector: a reliable, FREE, informative forum where they can seek advice, allow people the benefit of their experience and generally support other businesses in this age of austerity ......... then the SBF will have served them well.

But since the Internet has center stage “Marketing As Usual” simply isn’t working as well or it needs a better 'positioniong' approach. And in some industries, it has stopped working altogether.

The advent of the Internet and global commerce means the number of competitors each business (forum) deals with is multiplying exponentially and the home-turf advantage local businesses once enjoyed ....... has all but vanished.

So now, in this weird, wired world, offline and online marketers alike are scrambling to deliver a model that will consistently, reliably grow their businesses and their profits.

I, for one, value the ability to search the forum and link with other businesses.

Because Forum Marketing isn’t about doing the same thing the same way – the way your competitors do it – and expecting better results ..... it's about PARTICIPATION.

It’s about breaking out of the pack. And that means doing things differently – and not just differently; doing things smarter and better. It’s about being super strategic.

Look at any industry today and you’ll see why this is so crucial. Just about every company in a given market niche does things the same way. They all look the same and say virtually the same thing. Yet just about all of them are hoping for better results.

"It's not about doing certain THINGS ...... it's about doing things in a CERTAIN way"

Hope this helps?

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New Member
Hi Alison

A number of our clients have had similar issues with online orders and incredibly slow delivery schedules with no indication of a resolution to the backlog...... although it must surely be easing somewhat!

I think 'recharging the batteries' is sound medication that we all could use.... though I'm sure baking is ...... equally as good as an alternative therapy.

My predictions for 2011 is that it will become known as the year of the SBF ....... though I should probably qualify that the (B) is for business .... though the scottish 'baking' forum might also be something of interest.