Goal-driven individuals have long sworn by the practice of making goals specific and measurable. After all, creating great goals is one of the keys to long-term success.
As a new entrepreneur, it can be tempting to assume you'll head in a million directions and achieve success in all of them. In reality, success looks different from that "all-directions" approach. You really want to be able to know which things matter to your success. By making goal-setting a habit, you have a place to turn when you reach a particular milestone to know where to go next.
Follow these steps to take your big ideas about your new business and turn them into specific items you can check off your long-term to-do list.
Step 1: Dream Big
Get into your favorite brainstorming zone. Some people do this best in a shared Google Document with a fellow entrepreneur, while others get large sheets of poster board or easel paper and a marker.
Make actual time for this activity, because what you generate at the beginning has a huge impact on the value of the goals you end up using. Start by asking yourself questions:
Think of everything at this stage. Nothing is too small, and if you think that you've gotten everything, challenge yourself to think of at least two more items for this long list. The goal is to really push your brain, not to only think of "good" goals.
Step 2: Edit Your Brainstorm
Because, obviously, a brainstorm doesn't generate only useful information, the next step involves trimming and refining. Do all of these items need to be markers on your road to success, or are some of them repetitive, unnecessary, or not really indicators of your success?
For instance, I might write that I want to achieve a particular industry award as one of my goals, but depending on my business, it might not be possible to plan to do all the things necessary to achieve it. Refine your list down to items that are inside your control.
When you've whittled down your list, consider putting them into a word processor document or writing each one on a note card. You'll see why in Step 3.
Step 3: Arrange Your Brainstorm on a Timeline
Some goals are contingent on others, and some goals simply cannot be achieved in the first year of business but might be a three-year-window kind of goal. Move your goals around until they are in the approximate order in which you want them to be achieved.
Then comes the hard part. Put actual dates on each one. Saying "six months from now" is much different from "May 1st, 2020" or whatever date fits your time horizon. Giving yourself real dates can be very motivating, and can cue good self-reflection down the line.
Step 4: Make Goals SMARTer
You've likely heard of SMART goals before, but making your goals fit the SMART framework is worth hearing again. Basically, SMART goals are less vague and so they are more likely to be achieved. SMART stands for:
Step 5: Factor in The "Ifs" Like a Flowchart
Business goals are often contingent on things going your way. Finding a great supplier is a good example, or launching a marketing campaign at a particular time. While I don't call this step "Plan B," because some of the plans are actually better than you expected, the "Ifs" of your goals do matter.
Consider what you would change if...
Let yourself write a little flowchart of what you'd do in a variety of situations.
The goal here isn't to plan for every hypothetical situation. You can never get to that level! It's a chance to give yourself peace of mind by knowing you've really thoroughly considered these goals.
Step 6: Add in "Re-Evaluate" Dates
New businesses change constantly, pivoting to take advantage of great opportunities. Make sure you put dates on your calendar to take a few minutes to repeat this process and consider whether your goals have changed.
Changing goals is much better than just assuming you "failed to reach" a goal - usually, not meeting a goal is an indication that you've found another path forward. Use these dates to keep your goals relevant, the R from SMART.
Step 7: Celebrate Achievements
So many people skip this step, sadly. After all, the first few years as a business owner can be fast and furious. This leaves little time for celebration. However, it is worth taking an evening off with family and friends when you achieve a milestone.
The memory of that triumph is an important bolster on the hard days of entrepreneurship. Achieving SMART goals is even more satisfying because you've really put your whole mind behind these goals to make sure they really indicate the success you're striving for.
The goal-setting process as an entrepreneur truly never ends, but that's a good thing! It means you can always improve, always aim higher, and always achieve more or different new things. What are you waiting for? It's time to dive in.
The travel industry has gone through some huge changes in recent years. As so much research and booking are done online, travel agencies must engage customers with their website content and on social media, as well as in more traditional ways.
Written by Angie Habiger
So, you’re thinking of joining Travel Quest? That’s great to hear! My name is Angie and I’m typically the main point of contact at Travel Quest for agents new to TQ. I thought it would be helpful to do a little write up on the typical process of signing up with TQ.
Researching and Interviews
Starting way at the beginning, the best piece of advice I can give you is to research and compare host agencies. That way when you make your decision, you know it is the right one for you! If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend reading the Tips on How to Find the Best Host Agency post from HostAgencyReviews.com. It is full of really great advice and even has a nice Excel spreadsheet of questions to ask a host agency.
We think interviewing host agencies is so important that we actually have an ‘interview’ stage with agents looking to join TQ. It isn’t nearly as daunting as it sounds - we just want to make sure that all of your questions are answered on us and, if you’re a newbie, the travel industry in general!
Registering Your Business & Getting an EIN #
Registering a business name in the state you reside in is a good place to start setting everything up for your business. It is also something Travel Quest requires in order to sign up with us! We often get asked is it best to register as a Sole Proprietorship, DBA, or LLC. Any one of them works for us. To make sure you are doing what’s best for your business, we suggest consulting with a tax professional or accountant. Each state has different costs and processes set in place so be sure to check with your State Agencies for what you need to do! The Small Business Administration has a great list of filing requirements for each state.
After you register your business, you’ll also need to get an EIN (Employee Identification Number) through the IRS. This is super easy to do online at IRS.gov.
Travel Quest’s Sign Up Process
Alright, you’ve been researching and interviewing host agencies and have made your final decision. I know that once you make that decision you want to get started right away so our sign up process is streamlined to get you set up in a jiffy.
We send all of our documents via an online signature program to make things super-fast and easy to track. Once you let us know you want to sign up there are just 3 stages:
The length of time it takes from start to finish depends mostly on how fast we get the documents back. Typically you receive your log in sheet 3-5 business days after you fill out the TQ Sign Up form! If you have any questions along the way, everyone at Travel Quest is there to help! Now that you know the sign up process, I hope we get to chat soon!
Written by Nicole Marson
Networking is a crucial element in the world of small business owners. That’s why I wanted to go over the importance and benefits of networking.Then I’ll go over some networking opportunities, essentials and best practices to get you going!
Benefits of Networking
Networking with fellow agents, vendors and other business owners can really help you grow your business and expand your reach. Whether it’s client referrals, partnerships, speaking or writing opportunities; networking can help connect you with people who can help you grow your business. Looking for more specifics on how networking can benefit you? Here you go!
Attending networking events on a regular basis is important. Not sure where to look for local networking events? Here are a few ideas to get you started!
The thought of attending your first few networking events may seem daunting but don’t worry - you’re not alone! Many people struggle the first few times out of the gate when walking into a room full of strangers and having to introduce yourself. We’ve put together a list of best practices to help you out!
Making conversation and knowing what to ask people can be just as terrifying as walking through that door. I’ve found that having a few questions prepared eases my anxiety and makes my interactions a lot more engaging and meaningful. The people you chat with will appreciate you taking the time to ask quality questions instead of the usual “Where are you from? What do you do?”. Here are some example questions to help you get started!