I can’t remember where I first heard the term BHAG (aka – “Big, hairy audacious goal”), but Wikipedia tells me that the phrase was first coined by James Collins (of “Good to Great” fame) and Jerry Porras in 1996. In their words:
“A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines. –Collins and Porras, 1996“
So today, I don’t want to talk to you about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals or about how to manage your day-to-day task list. I really hate cutesy acronyms, and I’ve already talked about using technology to conquer your every day tasks. Instead, I want to talk about BHAGs and the overwhelming, driving passions that motivate us to drive our business’s forward each day.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – internet business is hard. It takes constant commitment, blood sweat and tears, afternoons when you’d rather be out with your friends and pretty much whatever other mental, physical and emotional energy you’re willing to throw at your business in order to be successful. So if you don’t have some sort of overwhelming purpose or major goal that pushes you to get through these challenges, you’re going to be facing a pretty big uphill battle.
If you don’t have your own BHAG, take some time this week to think about what goal you’re trying to reach with your internet business. And once you’ve uncovered your BHAG, be sure to set a deadline for its completion and a specific metric that will tell you’ve been successful.
For example, “I want to run a successful internet business” isn’t a good BHAG. Why do you want to have an internet business? And what constitutes a “success”? Will you measure your success in terms of email subscribers? Dollars earned through affiliate product sales each month? Repeat clients you earn through your website?
Let me give you an example…
My BHAG right now is to become self-employed again as a writer, web designer and web marketer by July 26th, 2012 (exactly 12 months from when I made the resolution to do so, although hopefully I’ll get there much, much sooner).
Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t an easy decision for me to come to, which is why it was so important for me to sit down and analyze what was truly important for me (versus what other internet business owners use as their BHAGs).
As you all know, I love my day job, but some recent changes in our organizational structure and culture tell me that it’s time to start thinking about moving on. And since my husband and I are thinking about starting a family in the next year or two, it’s important to me, personally, to have more flexibility in my schedule to raise our children in the way we choose.
But although I make a decent amount of money online (heck, lately it’s more than I make at the aforementioned day job…), there’s still one thing holding me back – credit card debt. $11,400 of it, to be exact. My husband and I weren’t that financially responsible when we were young, stupid college kids, but now, it’s important to me to have that out of the way before I become self-employed and think about having kids of my own.
So I guess, technically, my BHAG is two-fold – to get out of debt, and to become self-employed within the next year. Now that I know what my goal is, why it’s important to me and how I define its successful completion, I can start to put a plan in place to achieve it.
Today is August 24th, 2011, which means I have 337 days to reach this goal (if the Excel DateDif function can be trusted…). If I want to pay off $11,400 in credit card debt before that time, I need to come up with roughly $33.83/day extra in order to pay our bills (excluding interest charges, since I’m too lazy to extrapolate that all out right now).
Obviously, I can cut some expenses to ensure that as much of my internet income as possible is being directed towards paying off these bills. However, I also want to be conscious of keeping a balance between enjoying our last year before kids and being fiscally responsible.
So instead, I’m focusing instead on coming up with this extra money by increasing my online income. For example, if I want to come up with roughly $34/day, I could:
* Find new writing clients. At my usual writing rates of $.04/word, all I need is one extra 850 word article per day to meet my goal.
* Sell affiliate products. To date, the best selling product from this site is Market Samurai, which pays out 48% commissions. If I sell one copy of the full version of Market Samurai (which is totally freaking awesome, by the way), I earn roughly $71.00 – or two days of debt payments!
* Sell my own products. You all know I run occasional WSOs over at the Warrior Forum, but I’m also starting to invest in buying websites that sell their own products via Flippa. In fact, I’ve just picked up a skin care product site that sells an ebook package for $37 a piece, meaning that every sale puts me one day closer to my goal of being self-employed.
So why am I telling you all this? In part because I want you all to spend some time thinking about why you do what you do online. Having well-defined BHAGs (or even regular, medium-sized goals) is essential to maintaining motivation, especially when you run into frustrations and challenges with your business.
But also because I’m going to be launching a new feature on the site – monthly “Sarah’s Corner” posts that detail what I’ve been up to and what kind of progress I’ve been making towards my own BHAG. Hopefully, I’ll come up with a better title than that, but basically, my goals with these posts will be to give you a feel for life as an internet marketer, as well as a way for me to stay accountable with my debt pay-off goals. Check back next week on August 31st for the first installment in this new series!
Now it’s your turn. If you have a BHAG that you’re comfortable sharing in this public forum, I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below. Hopefully we can motivate each other to stay on track and reach our goals!
(PS – As a PSA for anyone else out there who’s as scared of spiders as I am, do not – under any circumstances – search Flickr for the phrase “big hairy monster”, even if you’re just looking for a cute little monster picture for your post on BHAGs. Consider yourself warned…)