Craft a thriving business. Do what matters. Crush Distractions. Get the Kit:

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283: How to make time to APPLY what you learn

It’s not enough to just read the book to buy the course, you have to actually apply what you learn to your business. Learn my best advice for actually applying learning to your business at TaraSwiger.com/podcast283

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You have just read a great business book, or attended a workshop or joined an online class… but how do you get your investment out of it? How do you APPLY what you’ve learned? How do you make sure that it makes a difference in your business and your life?

Today I’m answering a question a Starship Captain recently asked after she read a great book – how do I APPLY this to my business?

You see, I’ve thought a LOT about how to make business education and information applicable. I’ve built it into my courses and program, so that as you work through the Starship Program, you are prompted to work WITH it in real time. We do this through apply-it-to-YOUR-biz worksheets, weekly accountability, chunking the content into pieces, and pacing it so that you work on it in an order that makes sense.

You can learn about how I structure it and WHAT you need to apply to your business in my free masterclass, the Four Foundation Method. Join me at TaraSwiger.com/foundations 

Go Slow

One of the mistakes we ALL make is that we get excited and we rush through collecting information and data. I am a big believer that you can absorb a lot more than you think, and you’ll have access to it when you need it again, so I’m never afraid of forgetting something I learned in a book (this may be a quirk of my own brain. If you need to do something else to cement in your brain, like taking notes, you should do that!).

But remembering a fact is very different than using a fact to create real change. When you want to create a transformation in your business, you’ve got to pay deeper attention than just a quick read. You need to stop and think. You need to take notes or put action steps in your planner.

This is going to seem obvious, but one of the easiest ways to make use of a book or a class is to actually DO the exercises. I know, right? But I know you skip the exercises at the end of the chapter, just like I do! That’s fine if you’re reading a book just for general knowledge or to get an overview of the topic… but if you picked the book up because you want something to change in your business, you need to actually think and work through it. Don’t just speed through.

Dedicate the time it deserves.

Set aside the time

Ok, ok, so you’re going to go slow, you’re going to do the exercises or homework… but who has time for that?

Well, if it’s important to you, if it’s a priority, you do.

We’re going to talk about this more next week on the podcast, but if this is a priority, you need to set aside the time.

You probably know this, but be honest – when you pick up a business book or buy a course do you first stop and ask yourself when you are going to apply it? Probably not, but then we get annoyed when it doesn’t get read and we don’t see a change in our business.

This is a good time to tell you – nothing will make a difference in your business unless you commit to taking action and taking time for it. I was recently told that if the Starship comes with a guarantee that everyone will make a living from your craft, this person would absolutely join.

Well, yeah.

But honey, I can’t guarantee that you will make a living from your craft, because I can’t guarantee YOU will do the work, or that you will even open the lessons and read them, let alone do the homework, let alone make the changes you’ll need to make to have a profitable business.

No one can guarantee your success except for YOU.

Allow for failure (and experimentation)

Here’s the thing: when you try new stuff, it’s not always going to get the results you want. You are going to try things and they’ll fail. This has to be built into how you think about business or you’ll never move forward. If you’re waiting for the perfect piece of advice… you’re going to wait for a long time.

I used to call this the special-snowflake syndrome, but that phrase got politicized, so now I’m calling it the Unique Paradox. This is when every student tells me their business is unique and this doesn’t apply to them. But hon, if every business is unique, then there is no point in you learning any business advice. You know that there are foundations you can apply to your business, foundations that work whether you have a product-based business, a service-based business, whether you sell $4 PDFs or $100 earrings… right?

But you won’t always know exactly how to apply it to work for you, so you’re going to need to open to experimentation, to try, to fail, to try something new.

Often when you apply a new concept to your business, you need to build in time to reassess – is it the concept or the application that’s not working? Can I try it in a different way?

And hey, this is why I build in monthly reassessment into the Starship. Because you have GOT to stop and check in, to see if you’re headed towards your goals or away from them. You’ve got to learn the lessons your business is trying to teach you.

Ask yourself (over and over) : How can I make use of this? What part of this is applicable to MY business, today?

Yes, there are going to be parts of every book or course that don’t pertain to you right now. Maybe it’s something that you will need in the future. Maybe it’s something you’ve already figured out. The key to making it applicable now, is to ignore that and look at what you really can use.

I know this can be hard sometimes. When I first started my first business (making handspun yarn and selling it on Etsy) all the advice I could find about selling in an online shop was for coaches, yoga teachers, skeezy guys selling “internet marketing.” NONE of it applied to my business, but I started to look at the basics of what they were saying – know your goals, know your customers, know your product, know your numbers… and I started implementing that in my business and it worked!

But what I learned as I quit my dayjob and talked to more and more makers about our businesses is that not everyone has an easy time seeing the foundational concepts and breaking it down into do-able action. That is a strength that seems obvious and easy to me, but it isn’t everyone else’s strength. So I started helping makers improve their marketing, finding the direction for their business (and life!) and get more profitable.

But I want you to know – if it’s hard for you to translate concepts from another industry-language or from old-school business terms, that’s ok! There’s nothing wrong with you! You don’t need an MBA to have a successful business. You can work with someone that can help you translate! This is exactly what I do in my Foundations Masterclass (which is totally free) and what I try to do each week here on the podcast.

So if you’re having a hard time applying general business knowledge to YOUR direct business, I have a homework assignment, go sign up for one of the spots in my upcoming Foundations Masterclass at TaraSwiger.com/foundations.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

237: In Conversation: Mary Roth and Joeli Kelly about goals, milestones and Starship

It’s always amazing knowing you aren’t alone in business. Listen in as two wonderful creative business owners talk about how they met their goals and milestones at TaraSwiger.com/podcast237

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You told me you'd like to meet other makers and here about their business, so by popular demand I bring you our new semi-regular series: In Conversation!

In today's conversation, Joeli Kelly, teacher and coach, will be talking to Mary Roth, the mad scientist and dyer behind Elemental Fiberworks, where you can find science-inspired yarn and fiber to geek out over.

Both women have created amazing businesses and both have been Starship Captains!

(The Starship is open right now, if you'd like to join them!) In this conversation they discuss the milestones in their business, the goals they've reached, and how the Starship helped them.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

How do YOU get stuff done? Find a way that works for you.

How do you actually get done the things you need to do for your business? Are you more likely to do something if you "owe" it to someone else, or if it's something you personally want to do? Or, maybe, do you rebel against the idea of a To Do list altogether? Learn more about your own tendency and how you can use it to get more done - including a FREE resource guide! More on TaraSwiger.com

 

How do you actually DO what you want to do in your business?

Do you need to understand WHY you're doing it?

Do you need to be held accountable?

Or do you rebel against anyone telling you to do anything (even when you really want to do it)?

This question fascinates me, because it's at the heart of why some people build their business quickly and others struggle along without ever taking much action.

When I talk to makers and artists who are frustrated that their business hasn't grown, it's very rare that they have NO idea what they should do. Instead, it's that they aren't taking the actions they feel they need to take, they aren't doing what they want to do.

The best explanation I've ever found for WHY some people struggle to get stuff done, is in Gretchen Rubin's book Better Than Before (it's all about habit change, and working on your business really is about habits). She defines the Four Tendencies, as a reason for why some people get stuff done (or change their habits, or work on their biz) and others don't.

I've talked about this more on the podcast (listen in here), but this comes up so often, I wanted to revisit it.

According to Gretchen (and backed up by my own experience working with hundreds of makers and artists), we react to expectations (ie, people telling us to do something), in one of four ways. The way you react to expectations tends to be consistent across your life.

Upholders:

These people do everything that's expected of them, easily. They both meet external expectations (other people telling you what you should do) and internal expectations (things YOU want to do). I have met very few Upholders, and I think it's because they don't seek out biz support – once they know what to do, they just do it.

Questioners:

These people (uh, myself included) don't care to meet external expectations unless they understand WHY. But they have an easy time meeting internal expectations… if those expectations are built on understanding the rationale behind them. In other words, we questioners can do anything if we can turn it from external expectation (you telling me to do something) into an internal expectation (I understand why, and now WANT to do it, because it makes logical sense to me).
These people need to know WHY they are doing anything in their business (“because experts say so” isn't enough). Because I'm a Questioner, I create all of my classes and books for Questioners – I don't tell you what to do, I tell you why something will benefit your biz, then I give you a bunch of questions related to your business, so you can see how to do it in your OWN way. This is why I've built the Starship experience to start with you getting clear on your goals and your path – so that you decide what you want to learn and what you want to do next, and feel motivated to do the work because you can see how it fits into the bigger picture.(According my unscientific study, about 1/3 of the Starship members are Questioners)

Obligers:

These people (maybe you?) have a pretty easy time fulfilling external expectations (if someone asks you to do something, you will), but have a tough time fulfilling internal expectations (say, working on your business, just because you want to). In fact you may fill your days doing things others care about more. So you feel frustrated that you never seem to make the time to work on what matters to YOU. Ugh, this is frustrating.

The solution?
Get someone to ask you about what you really care about.
In other words, externalize those internal expectations.
You can do this with a group (like the Starship), where you tell us your goal and then check in as you work through it (this is why we have the weekly live check-in and forums) or with a single person (an accountability partner). After learning that about 2/3 of the Starship members were Obligers, I upped our accountability-providing, by creating the Accountability Partner Program – you just fill out a short form, and I match you with a partner. The two of you work together to decide when to check-in and then you simply tell the person: This is what I'm working on, I'm going to be done with it by X date. That, alone, can suddenly make you feel like you “owe” someone and so you work harder on your business!

Rebels:

These people tend to feel constrained by any kind of expectation. They tell me (we have a handful in the Starship) that “As soon as I write something down, like a goal or to do list, I suddenly do NOT want to do it.” In fact, creating a schedule or a must-do list is going to ensure that a Rebel never does anything.

The solution?
I'll be honest, I have been thinking about this for over a year and quizzing any rebels I meet. Gretchen doesn't offer any solution in her book, and I had a hard time coming up with one. Joeli is a self-described Rebel who has made MASSIVE momentum in the last year of her Starship membership (you can get her full story if you sign up here) and she says what works best is making a big list and then picking, each day, what feels fun (instead of telling yourself you HAVE to do something that day), and setting goals that are more about paying attention and learning, than about measuring. (For example, set a goal of “noticing what already works in my business.”) In other words, for Rebels, taking the pressure OFF is often a good motivator for working harder (but if you already feel bad about how little you get done, this might feel REALLY scary). This is why we focus, in the Starship, on finding what works for YOU and giving yourself permission to not do what other people tell you “have” to do.

So how do you get stuff done?

I hope you see that the answer lies not in forcing yourself to work in ONE way, but in finding what works best for you. No one of the above is better than the others (although I think we all secretly wish we could be Upholders!) – the key to productivity is acknowledging your tendency and then setting up your work day and expectations in a way that works for you.

If you think that more accountability, question-answering and a community of encouragers would help you in your business, check out the Starship – it's open now! The Starship opens only a few times a year and will close again on 3/25, so head here now to learn more about it!

 

Be the Captain of your ship

When you own a business, it's on you to be the captain of your own ship. But what does that mean? It means you choose the course, you plan the action, you take responsibility. If you'd like to join a community of other biz owners who are captain-ing their own ships, The Starship is now open! Learn more at TaraSwiger.com/starshipbiz.

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The Starship is now boarding!

The Starship is called the Starship because it a space full of people who are interested in being the Captain of their own ship. But what does that mean?

To be the Captain of your business and life: 

  • Take ownership
  • Set a course
  • Choose the tools
  • Sail your own ship

We discuss exactly how to do that in this episode!

Got a question you want to ask me about my business, podcast, life, or do you want to get my answers to your business questions? Call and ask me! Your question may make it into episode 100! Just call  (567) 393-8272 THIS week! 

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Why you sell your art

starshipboarding


A few weeks ago, when I taught at Midwest Craft Con, I spent the day in handmade clothes and accessories. From the beautiful dress Karen + Kelly, of Gentle Clothing made me, to the viola-wood necklace given to me by the Hang Ups in KC. As you might guess, I felt absolutely amazing all day. Beautiful. Loved.

And that's WHY we make, isn't it?
Of course we make stuff because it feels good, but that expands when we give it away, when we sell it, when we allow someone else express themselves through our art.

We make more dresses, necklaces, yarn, patterns, paintings, sculptures that we will ever need. We, as artists and makers in business, make more because we want our work to go OUT to be in the world, to adorn someone's body or walls and to become someone else's expression, someone else's joy. We want to know our work is bringing color into more lives.

The necklace, the dress, the art in my house – it  has become a part of my life, a part of what I'm doing in the world.

So when you feel shy about marketing (ie, telling other people about the awesomeness of your work), remember this. Remember that it's not about selling YOUR thing, it's about giving your buyers the opportunity to be part of what you're doing, to take what you're doing and make it part of THEIR lives.

Not every maker and artist chooses to sell their work (or make more than they want for their own home). But you do. You want to not just make your art, but share it with others. You want someone to take your work and build their own meaning, their own message with it.

In order to do this, you need to continue to work on your business, to grow your own skills, to refine your message, and to do the work of building the business you want.

If you'd like support, encouragement and accountability during this journey, The Starship may be the community you need. It only opens once a quarter and it's opening again TODAY. If you're not sure if it's for you, or you'd like to ask questions about it (or just chat with me more), you are cordially invited to a Q+A today, March 15th.

Sign up here to learn more, get access to the Q+A (and the recording!) and meet a few of the Captains who already aboard.

(No idea what I’m talking about? Read more about the Starship here.)

If The Starship isn't for you right now – that's totally fine! Stick around and I'll keep posting weekly lessons to help you build your creative business.

 

What Matters MORE Than More Followers

missionstrategytactics

10 ways to get more Twitter followers

10 Steps to more Instagram likes

5 million ways to get more followers, likes, hearts, and approval from strangers

 

Posts like these litter the internet. Some are great. Some are educational.

But these posts are an AWFUL starting place. This the worst thing to focus on when you're not sure what to do next.

 

Why?

Because they are tactics. Tactics for implementing a tool.

But before you can apply tactics for one tool, you need to first know if your strategy includes using that tool, in that way.

And before you can know if your strategy includes that tool, you need to know the bigger picture, your Mission.

In other words, why the heck do you need more followers or likes? What are you going to DO with them?

Starting with tactics is starting at the wrong end. It's ensuring that you don't go anywhere important, you just spin your wheels doing doing doing.

Instead, start with the Mission. Then move onto the Strategy. And then, finally, figure out what tactics you need to learn to implement your strategy.

What's the difference?

Mission: This is the big WHY. Why are you doing what you're doing? Where do you want to go? What's your destination?

You don't have to have a big fancy reason, it can just be: I want to make $2000/mo from my business. That's a mission.

It could also be: I want to make a living from my art. Or, I want to share my art with the world. Or, I want to earn some money from home while my kids are growing up.

My Mission: Help makers + artists feel awesome about sharing their work with the world in a sustainable (profitable) way while creating a sustainable life for myself + my family.

(Note: It'll be easier to come up with your mission if you also a Vision – a bigger picture of the life you want and how your business fits into that. But sometimes you don't really have a bigger vision for a while, and that's ok too.)

 

Strategy: This is how you will enact the Mission.

How are you going to get there?

What are you going to do?

For example, if your mission is to make a living from your art, how are you going to sell it? Retail (Etsy shop, website?) or wholesale (through other shops)? Are you going to combine this?

Or, if your mission is to share your art with the world, how are you going to do that? Maybe you graffitti walls, or donate your art to hospitals?

My strategy is to first connect with makers via awesome content and encouragement for free: via weekly email lessons, blog posts, podcast episodes, and social media (especially Periscope and Instagram). This allows the people that my work is a good fit for to find me and feel comfortable taking the next step, where we apply lessons to their particular business via workbooks, classes, a supportive community, and live events.

 

Tactics: This is the actual implementation of your strategy.

What particular action are you going to do? How are you going to implement your strategy?

This is where learning about social media tools, or blogging, or managing your time better comes in.

You can see now, that for any Tactics to be effective at moving your business forward, you first have to identify your Mission and Strategy. (Also! Often your Mission and Strategy don't even require that you get more followers and likes!)

It looks like this:

Mission -> Strategy -> Tactics

So if you're feeling overwhelmed by all you “should” do, or confused about what the next best thing to do, you've probably been focusing on tactics.

(Take a deep breath! It's ok!)

Tactics are what 99% of online business advice is about, because it's fun and shiny! The Mission + Strategy portions are so personal, it's not easy to write a snappy blog post about them.

Instead, discovering your Mission + Strategy takes time and introspection.

This is why I've ensured it's the FIRST thing everyone does when they beam aboard my online community, the Starship. First, you do Chart Your Stars, which will guide you through identifying your Vision for your business and life and your Mission for the next year. Then, as a group, we do the Map Making process, to identify your Strategy for enacting your Mission over the next three months. I want everyone aboard to be clear:  What are you going to work on? What are you going to do?

And then you get access to my entire library of classes, some of which (like Craft Your Marketing) will help you identify your strategy and some (like Rock the Craft Show) will focus on your tactics.

I don't want to talk about your tactics, until we both know what your mission and strategy is. Because when we do talk about tactics (which we do, in the forum and weekly chat!), I want to be sure that we're helping you use the tactics in a way that will move your mission forward!

In this way, you can avoid an overwhelming, never-ending list of stuff to do. You can stop focusing on followers and likes, and instead focus on what you need to know to reach your goal.

And you can start crafting a business you really love.

To get clear on your Mission and Strategy + to join a community of encouraging makers and artists, click here.

How about you? Do you know your Mission? What about your Strategy?

How are they impacting your tactics?

 

The Secret of Reaching Goals (and how I forgot it)

powerofaccountability

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Do you have a goal you wanted to do this year that you just haven't gotten to yet?

ME TOO!

In this episode

  • tell you about my own goal and what I've totally failed to do,
  • how I turned it around
  • 4 steps to applying the secret to your own goals

The Starship comes built IN with the keys to reaching your goals and it's NOW open! Read more and join in here.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!)

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Make 2015 awesome: It’s not too late

make2015awesome

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Do you remember what goals you set at the beginning of the year? How close are you to reaching them?

In today's episode, we're going to talk about how to end the year strong, and get back on track if you've fallen off. It's not too late to make 2015 an awesome year.
Today's episode was requested by Periscope. If you like the podcast, join me on Periscope! Just download the Periscope app, look up TaraSwiger, and start following me. The app will notify you when I'm live broadcasting, and you can join us live, or watch the replay for up to 24 hours.

Everything I mention in the podcast comes as a part of a Starship membership. Click here to learn more and be notified when it opens!  

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!)

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

The process of introspection, implementation and growth

 The Starship is Now OpenThe Starship is now boarding!

You can read all about it here, but I wanted to give you a bit of a backstage pass into why the Starship is built the way it is.

The Starship only opens once a quarter*, in order to make sure everyone gets started from the same place (and to ensure that I have time to get to know everyone and their business).

*To keep it small + personal (so you can connect, collaborate and befriend each other) only 12 new Captains will beam up this quarter (to join the 70 who are already aboard). After that, boarding closes until October!

The Starship is a place for weekly accountability, monthly review and anytime-you-want-it question-asking…but I’ve learned over the last 5 years (!) that it’s not enough to have resources, you have to know where and how you want to use them. Unless you start with a plan and intention, all the resources can overwhelm you.

Over the years, I’ve built in plan-making, intention-setting rituals + resources, into the schedule of the Starship, so that you will use it to grow and improve your business.

Here’s the process of intention-setting and implementation: 

1. Get oriented in the Starship.

With a quick email series, you’ll learn how to navigate the resources available to you. You’ll also learn how to make a Clear Ask, so that you get the help you need (Captains have told me that they now use this in all their communication!)

2. Get oriented in your own business.

It’s vital to know where your business is, right now. (Not just where you want it to be, or where you think it “should” be). You'll do this by Charting Your Stars. You'll take a week-long course that helps you find your North Star, make your own Star Map for navigating your dreams, and set Destinations that actually matter to you.

This is the first step to ensuring you move forward, in the direction you really want to go (and it's exclusive to the Starship and Lift Off).

3. Make each dream do-able.

On July 6th, the entire Starship makes a Map, using this guide. With a 6 day e-course and a dedicated forum, you’ll identify your next Destination (for the next 3 months) and break it down into do-able To Dos. This is where everything you dream about doing becomes practical.

If you've never set and reached a goal in your business, this process will change your life.

4. Learn how you best work.

After you’ve got your do-able To Dos … you actually have to do them. Through forum posts and weekly check-ins you’ll identify how you best get work done, and we’ll help un-stick you when you get stuck.

5. Learn what you don't know. 

Whether your goal requires you to improve your profitability, create an effective marketing plan, or become more effective with your time, The Starship Library has you covered. You'll have immediate access to over a dozen classes (find the full list here) AND you can sign up for Lift Off (for free!) and build the foundations of your business over the next 6 months

6. Stay on track.

Every month we look back and review your adventure so far in a super-quick Reassessment Log. You can see where you swerved and what you learned. We’re there to cheer on every mile marker you reach!

 

Grace says: “Every year I go through the entire process of Chart Your Stars and Map Making, cover to cover. The insight into what is right for me is undeniable and incredible. So helpful in fact that every month I go back through them and touch up the areas that need to be redefined – a big part of running a successful business is constantly checking in and making sure I'm staying true to my mission and myself!”

After 3 months, every quarter, we start the cycle again with Map Making and review – so that you’re always moving forward, always identifying the next Destination and going after it with the freshest information on your very own business. (This way we avoid the I forgot about my New Year’s Resolutions! problem.)

You don’t need another thing to remember. 

Have you ever bought an online class and then didn’t know what to do or how to navigate the space or what happened when? I hate that! So I’ve built the entire process to come to you easily + simply.

That’s why Starship Captains don’t have to remember ANY of this. Everything I mentioned just comes to you. You don’t have to remember to check a website, or log in, or anything. Every Wednesday I send an email with a mini-lesson, reminders about what we’re doing (the Map Making, the classes), and an invitation to the weekly chat. So if you take a week (or month!) away, you have a chance to jump back in, every week.

What's new

Every quarter we add something new to the Starship, based on member's suggestions. Last quarter I created my most-thorough marketing class (Craft Your Marketing, which you'll only find in the Library!) and Wrangle Your Time.

This quarter we're adding

  • Accountability Partners – want someone to check in with you via email, phone, video, Twitter or something else? You tell us your preferences and we'll hand-match you to an accountability partner.
  • Live Q+As – once every three months, I'll answer all of your questions, via a live video! (Yep, there's a recording!)
  • Every worksheet, video, and audio lesson has been newly edited! This means a more seamless experience for you!
  • A new, seamless payment plan with smaller monthly payments. (Details here)
  • A brand-new option: Warp Drive! If you want one-on-ones with me, you can get that with a Warp Drive Starship membership. And if you don't need them, there's now an option without the one-on-ones.

 

Any questions?

Read all the details here, then send me an email (tara@taraswiger.com) if you've got any questions!

PS. Every class, workbook, and Guide I’ve mentioned comes FREE with your Starship membership. You’ll get access to absolutely everything I do (including exclusive access to one-on-one sessions).

How to reach your money goal

How to reach your money goal

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When I'm working with Captains on setting their goals, I often get asked, “How can I make a plan for reaching a money goal? Isn't it outside of my control?” Today I'm going to share with you what I tell them.

  • How to set a realistic sales goal
  • How to make your goal inevitable
  • How to avoid the common pitfalls

If you'd like to set a goal and reach it in 2015, join the Starship for accountability, encouragement and the information you need to make your dream a reality.

 

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

 

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