SETTING GOALS FOR YOUR FUTURE
As a Government Contractor
The difference between a goal and a dream is the written word. -Gene Donohue
As you stare through the glass you paused to glance at the squirrels scampering around looking for buried nuts in the shivering cold. You can feel the winter chill sneaking through the cracks of your windows. You lean back comfortably, on a rustic sofa with big pillows around you. While sitting, you sip on a warm mocha, as you reflect on the past year.
For some, it’s been a year of great fortune, but for most, it’s been a year of disappointment and frustration. In the government contracting industry, you've seen friends come and go as they competed in this market. You look at them and wonder why one company is more successful than another. Even more, the fear of the “fiscal cliff” is weighing heavily on your mind. As you’re singing the blues of last year, your thoughts turn to the upcoming one. You’re wondering what this New Year will bring.
You know that profits are made first in the mind, before they appear as Benjamins on paper. Great fortune is found in the goals and plans you set, “for if we fail to plan, we’ve planned to fail”.
So, what goals do you have this year? How many prime contracts do you plan to pursue? What are your next steps? Well, setting the right goals is critical to success. It’s about education, planning and execution. Shall we dig deeper?
EDUCATION: LEARN TO LOVE LEARNING
To achieve your business goals, what education must you pursue this year? Growing your revenue in the federal market begins by equipping your mind. Ask yourself, “Have I grown in my knowledge of procurement? Whom have I associated myself with to add to my core knowledge? What classes can I take to better educate myself this year? What certifications can I get? What books can I read?”
Here are a few links to resources, e-books, articles and websites that can enlighten you about the education you might need to succeed in the contracting market.
Join association www.govassociation.org/join
Join association www.nasbc.org
Join association www.ncma-hq.org
Join association www.governmentcontractors.org
Enroll in training www.govfasttrack.com
Enroll in training www.mainesbdc.org
Enroll in training www.aptac-us.org
Enroll in training www.tinyurl.com/contract101
Read book www.tinyurl.com/12stepstowin
Read book www.tinyurl.com/contracting4dummies
PLANNING: HOW TO SET GOALS
Once you’ve acquired the proper knowledge, your next step is to set specific goals and plans. Here are a few guidelines on goal setting.
GUIDELINES ON SETTING GOALS:
1) Write down your goals.
Writing down your goals forces your thoughts to be specific and concrete. It is the beginning of realizing your dreams. Gene Donohue states that "a goal is merely a dream if it is not written down". Writing down your goals also helps you retain the information better. As they go from thought to paper, your goals are reinforced.
2) Set performance-oriented goals, not results-oriented goals.
There is no right or wrong way to set goals; the important thing is simply to set them. However, the types of goals you set will determine whether you achieve them or not. The secret to setting achievable goals is setting measurable goals, or performance oriented goals. When you set results-oriented goals, such as setting a goal to win an extra $100,000 a month in contracts, you prompt anxiety and feelings of failure. You can never fully control your results because too many variables exist outside your control. Hence, performance goals are better: they focus on your character and healthy habits (things you can control), which, inevitably, will lead to high-performance results.
Result-oriented goal: Win one contract a month.
Performance-oriented goal: Bid on ten contracts a month.
So, again, what’s the difference between results-oriented and performance-oriented goals? The key word is “control”. You may not be able to control whether you win a contract from the Department of Defense; but, you can control the number of bids you submit per month. Naturally, the more bids you submit, the greater your chances are for success.
3) Set goals you’re passionate about.
Having passion for your goals will motivate you when you’re down, discouraged, demoralized and disappointed. If you’re excited about your goals, you’ll be more likely to achieve them. Go after contracts that you feel comfortable doing. Don’t venture into new niche markets that you have no passion about.
4) Set realistic goals.
Let’s say you’re new to the government market and you set an ambitious goal of winning 5 government contracts in two months. Well, it’s not impossible, but it is unrealistic. On average, most new companies submit 25 bids before they win their first project. You have to equip yourself with the proper knowledge: learn the language of “governese”, know which databases to use, and build appropriate relationships to win contracts consistently. As such, you should set goals that are challenging, yet still achievable.
5) Make your goals specific and clear.
Often, people set goals that look such as this: “My goal in 2018 is to complete all of my certifications.” This goal is too vague. What kinds of certifications are you talking about: HUBzone, 8(a), EDWOSB, FBE, MBE or, SDVOSB? Be clear. Be specific. For example: “My goal in this year is to complete my 8(a) certification by April 21st.” That’s more precise.
6) Be balanced.
All work and no play is a recipe for burning out. Yes, you should set professional and business goals, but you should also set goals in other areas of your life. Create a balanced life by setting personal goals, fun and adventurous goals, spiritual goals, and philanthropic goals in addition to your business goals. (see attached “vision map”: goal sheet)
EXECUTION: TAKING YOUR FIRST STEPS
Now that your goals are written down, what’s next? After you've written down your goals, it's time take massive action.
ACTIONS TO TAKE:
1) Make a commitment to fulfil your goals.
Make a commitment to your goals. If you don’t do it, no one else will. Commit your goals to memory. When you’re serious about your goals, you’ll find it's easy to commit to them and execute on them.
2) Communicate your goals.
Share your goals with your loved ones, friends and peers, but be weary of “GOAL KILLERS.” They are like wolves in sheep clothing. They will whisper to you…
- “Most companies never win contracts.”
- “I got an 8(a) certification, and I haven’t won a contract yet.”
- “It’s too hard, too complicated or too complex.”
Goal killers are naysayers. Oftentimes, the people that you expect to be your biggest supporters will be the worst naysayers. Ignore them. Instead, surround yourself with people who will inspire and encourage you. You’ll need their support and their accountability from time to time.
3) Revisit your goals daily
Read your goals consistently. Goals often go unachieved because they’re forgotten, buried by the stresses of daily life. Post your goals on your mirror, hang them on your door, put them on your daily calendar, or post them on your Facebook page. Whatever your normal routine is, make your goals visible to you each day.
4) Envision your goals like they’re real.
Imagine walking to your mailbox on a sunny afternoon. As you flip through the mail, suddenly, staring at you is a formal letter from the US government. You open it, and it’s not a bill or recruitment letter from the Army, but a check, for $450,000-from your successful completion of a federal contract. Imagine riding to the bank, depositing your check and taking your family to dinner that night for some steak and chocolate ice cream. Envision your goals. Before they arrive, envision them as real in your mind.
5) Take baby steps
Take baby steps toward your goals so they won’t overwhelm you. It’s okay to crawl and take baby steps. Soon enough, your crawling will turn into a brisk walk, your walk to a sprint, and your sprint will take you to the finish line.
6) Make sacrifices
Your goals won't be realized if you're not willing to make sacrifices. You have to make decisions between hanging out with friends or going out to a networking event. You have to choose between taking a short cut or traveling on the harder path. You have to decide whether to stay up all night to finish the proposal, or skipping this project and waiting for the next one. You have to sacrifice time, relationships and short term gains to fulfill your long term goals.
When the winter of this New Year arrives, where will you be? Will you be sitting in that old rustic couch, sipping on a warm mocha again, or will you be on the beach, on an island in the Bahamas, sipping on a martini. This New Year will be a year of whatever you make it. Follow these goal setting guidelines to help you. If you execute them well enough, it may not be hot mocha on a rustic sofa, but a martini on a beach chair at the end of this upcoming year. Cheers!
Use this Vision Map to help you set your goals
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