How to Set Killer Quarterly Goals

quarterly goalsIt’s April Fool’s Day! Have you played a mean-spirited joke on someone you love yet? All “jokes” aside, April 1st is an important day for those on the quest to be self made. It’s the first day of the second quarter of the business year and whether you’re a fortune 500 or a scrappy virtual startup it’s vital that you start setting quarterly goals that will encourage you to push the limits and gauge your businesses’ health along the way.

Quarterly Goals

I like to set only 3 overarching quarterly goals, this way it’s not complicated and it forces me to focus on the top 3 things that matter to my businesses’ success and profitability the most. Three goals per quarter roughly breaks down to a goal a month, which many say is the perfect number of big goals to focus on per business – per month. I break my quarterly goals into three segments: a growth goal, a sales goal and a branding goal and have found that this method helps optimize the benefits of setting quarterly goals.

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21 Ways to Build a Profitable Business

profitable businessI know, I know… I’m so cliched with my ideas of profitability. I mean, who wants to build a profitable business while a bubble is brewing in silicon valley? Just raise boat loads of money on convertible notes, then fill the empty pool in the back of your Palo Alto crash pad with it and jump in. Silly profitability…

But, for those of you not so lucky as to raise $41 million dollars pre-launch (or those so lucky, depending on your rationale) there’s always the boring, old idea of building a business focused on profitability from the starting gate and making money that way. Not as sexy, I know, but the feeling of dollar bills earned vs. dollars given with strings has always felt different between my grubby little fingers.

I’m not saying that lots of company’s who have raised money aren’t insanely profitable – I’m just saying that from the get go you must focus on profitability, letting things like funding just be a building block to your lego castle. So, if you’re interested in building a profitable business while you create the next big virtual startup I suggest you take a gander at these 21 tips that will help you reach profitability and stay there.

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Do Your Best and Delegate the Rest

I’ve been in Texas for the last week and have another week to go in the Lone Star State. In between partying at South by Southwest, hanging out with my various and multi-cultural cousins and sneaking in “work breaks” at Starbucks far and wide – I’ve been doing a lot of driving and a lot of thinking.

I used to beat myself up because there were so many things I wasn’t particularly good at. When I started dabbling in business it would overwhelm me to the point of having to sleep for a few hours to just combat the mental exhaustion. There was just so much I didn’t know and I couldn’t fathom the amount of time it would take me to catch up on it all. Luckily, I happened upon the idea of delegation early on and quickly adopted it as the top weapon in my startup arsenal.

Over the years the scope of what I do in my business has gotten smaller and smaller – which you think would be a bad thing. But in reality the smaller scope I focus on, the better my business does and the more everyone gets out of it. So what do I do with everything else? I delegate it. Delegation is key to success when you’re in any kind of business, but especially when you’re a virtual startup.

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17 Killer Tools for Running a Virtual Startup

There’s just something awesome about running a virtual startup. First of all today I worked from cafe, the lobby of the oh-so-fancy Omni Hotel (note: I’m not staying there I just like their free wi-fi) and a killer co-working place called Rocket Space. What else rocks about a virtual startup? Things like a very low overhead, very low burn rate, very high profit margins and the fact that your team can be compiled of individuals from all over the world.

So I decided to compile a list of all the tools me and the team at Virtual Zeta use to run and grow a virtual startup. Hopefully these will help you go virtual and start reaping the rewards of running a location and building independent business.

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A Founder Institute Review

founder instituteAs many of you know over the last few months I’ve been involved in a tech incubator in Palo Alto, CA called the Founder Institute. The program is the brainchild of Adeo Ressi a serial entrepreneur in the tech space, who has deep ties to the Silicon Valley startup community.

To get a truly balanced review of the Founder Institute program I thought I’d put together some thoughts from fellow classmates, you’ll see their thoughts below. Like all incubators the Founder Institute has it’s ups and downs but at the end I walked away with a wealth of knowledge and stellar network that’s priceless.

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7 Ways to Get to Inbox Zero

inbox zeroMy email inbox has been threatening my very existence as of late. It’s been a tireless harpy that calls me in with it’s siren songs and then sucks the most productive hours of my day into the black hole of inbox doom.

Seem dramatic? Well having a cluttered email inbox is no laughing matter my friend – it’s actually one of the biggest time sucks in the world! And with the number of emails I get per day skyrocketing past 100 (not including spam!) I knew it was time to optimalize my email inbox.

Below are the 7 things I did to reach inbox zero and now that I’ve reached it my productivity has sky rocketed, the sun is shining and I don’t want to chuck my computer at the door every time I open my inbox.

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Optimalism: The Ism That Will Change Your Life

There are a lot of “isms” floating around lately: minimalism, socialism, activism, pessimism… the list goes on. So a few months back I started searching for my own “ism” that could put a name to the path I’ve been trying to follow and quantify for a while now. Just this last week months of research, brainstorming and discussing have come together to produce the ISM that I will, from now on, hold near and dear to my heart. It is:

Optimalism

When typed into Google (with quotations) it gives you this “orphan” definition from Wikipedia which says something about it being a “healthy form of perfectionism”… but in my humble opinion, that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

There is also an excellent article by Steve Pavlina on optimal thinking based on the book written on the topic by Dr. Rosalene Glickman. The idea of optimal thinking is a part of the core theory of the Optimalism I’m talking about. So if you’re interested in an ISM that has the power to change your life and business completely, give me a few minutes of your time and let me explain what the flag I’m sticking in the ground of the term Optimalism and claiming is all about.

I’ll start by explaining the theories that have gone into this loaded term…

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50 Things a Virtual Assistant Can Do For Your Business

2011 is the year of big goals and bigger execution, but remember, you are not an island! Teamwork is a must when building a meaningful business in the upcoming year, but what to do if you don’t have gobs of cash to throw around? That was the exact predicament I was in when I started my first business online. I needed someone to help me upload my WordPress blog, to help me with research and to act as an all around internet jack of all trades. I found this in my very first virtual assistant and I’ve never looked back. So in the wake of my business Zirtual launching (all we do is find entrepreneurs awesome, kick butt virtual personal assistants – for cheap!) I decided to list 100 things Virtual Assistants can do that will make your business and life better. And if by the end of this post I haven’t fully convinced you that you must run out and hire a virtual assistant today – well then send me a tweet and tell me I ought to be ashamed of myself!

Virtual Assistants can…

  1. help you set up your website/blog.
  2. set up your email list.
  3. transcribe voice memos you record on your phone, and then email them to you.
  4. fix problems with your iTunes account using a screen sharing application.
  5. spend hours comparing and contrasting all the hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area and present you with a categorized list of the top ten, their features and then book the one you want for you.
  6. unsubscribe you from pesky mailing lists that just won’t stop.
  7. send out emails that say “Hi, this is {insert your name here}’s assistant” which always impresses friends and family.
  8. do myriads of brain-numbing online research for you.
  9. help you balance your business budget using a free tool like Outright.
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3 Steps to a Profitable and Passionless Business (It’s a Good Thing!)

You need to build a business divorced whose ins and outs are divorced from your passions. Yep, you heard me. This is heresy to most of the “make money doing what you love”ers. But then again most of them make money telling people how to make money doing what they love… which is just a repetitive loop of nonsense that plays on suckers. You can love what you do and you can build a business that you love… but rarely is it fueled 100% by your passions and by that me-me-me mentality.

Instead get smart and get outside of yourself. I hate to break it to you but 99.99% of the World doesn’t give a rat’s about your passions. You know what they do care about though? Their passions, their needs, their wants.

1. Ditch Passion.

People are so self involved as of late and the trend of “build a business based on your passions” (something that I fell pray to early on) is only making it worse. Because of this mantra of “passion-based” businesses, would-be entrepreneurs across the world have tried and failed at businesses they started only because they were interested in the idea and assumed that the rest of the world would follow suit.

Let me tell you what you should have passion for… hobbies and goals. If your vegan, cupcake bakery is going to be your hobby, not what sends your kids to college, great. But if you plan on it pulling your family out of bankruptcy and growing into a thriving and profitable business… you better not focus on what you love but what the market craves. And maybe that is a vegan, cupcakery… but often it’s not your first instinct. So save yourself lots of toil, time and trouble and find out what the market wants before you sink your life savings into vegenaise and unbleached flour.

If you remember ONE thing… let it be that there is a MASSIVE business-breaking difference between what you’re interested in and what the market you are targeting craves.

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The Power of the Pivot

Pivot. The word can be taken many ways but it seems lately entrepreneurs have adapted it from it’s roots in basketball. When a basketball player pivots it means they firmly plant one foot on the floor and use the non-stationary foot to swivel from side to side until they can make a better short or pass.

Pivoting in the startup world is how smart people turn failing businesses into thriving ones and how new businesses often find their market. Though surprisingly simple, pivoting is often something most entrepreneurs refuse to do. Instead they’ll stick doggedly to their original idea and first notion of what their business should look like, this attitude will be one that takes their business all the way to the grave.

Why Pivoting is Essential

Think of the people you know who set out to “start a blog”, “build a business” or heaven forbid “make money blogging”. Probably a good number of these people have failed, maybe there blog is still up or perhaps there business is still limping along but in no way have they become the fantastic success they aimed for. Why?

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