I started my soap & bath products business without ever really intending to. I was genuinely excited about the business when it began, but in all honesty, there was no plan at first.
Back then, I did not know anyone else who had ever built a successful business selling products that they made. I knew quite a few people who struggled at this, but I did not know anyone who was ACTUALLY doing this SUCCESSFULLY.
However, one day in the spring of 2015, I launched Ridgeway Soapworks. My “goal” at first was very simple – I just wanted something to be excited about.
My 20+ year career in advertising research was in chaos. The company I had worked for the past 10 years was acquired by an immense corporation and everything changed, and it felt like I had control over NONE of it. So, as a way to cope, I started to make soap, and made so much that pretty soon it was out of hand and I had to do something with it.
But I doubted the viability of creating a successful business built around my handmade bath & body products. As a result, I did not take the time to set clear & meaningful goals. I did not know any better, but this caught up with me eventually.
My business grew and after a year, my house was cluttered with boxes of supplies, curing soaps, finished products and equipment. I live in a small log cabin that was not designed to be a soap production facility.
Around this time, my “goals” started to form. At the time they were simply a dream, but that is the foundation of most goals. What did I dream about back then?
- Getting the business out of my house
- A way to separate work day from evening so that I did not feel like I had to work 24/7
- Someone to help me make products
Those three “dreams” actually became my first goals. Again, I did not yet believe that it was possible to create a financially successful soap business yet, but I was getting close to that belief.
I bring up belief because it is the foundation of any and every goal you set. If you don’t truly believe something is possible, your mind will treat it as a fantasy and not actually identify opportunities that are in line with your goal. I have studied goal setting extensively in the past few years, and without belief, you won’t get very far.
Back to my first set of “goals”. I use the quotes because I did not follow my current goal setting process, and in my mind, that sort of disqualifies them. But, in spite of no real understanding of how to set goals, I dreamed about moving to the next level. I dreamed about it all the time, but was TERRIFIED to actually do something about it.
Until one day, I just did it. I called the phone number on a tiny building I drove by every day, and asked how much the rent was. I asked if I could see the place, and in hindsight, this was the day everything changed.
On that day, I decided to believe in the dream, in my business and in myself. I signed a lease for a whole year (EEK) and risked upsetting my husband (he was very unhappy about this risky move).
Since that point, I have moved the business to subsequently higher levels and have learned a few things about setting goals. If you made it this far through this post, thank you, and here is a framework to consider with your own goal setting.
- It starts with a dream. That means imaging what it would be like if something specific happened. What it would look like, what it would feel like and what it would bring to your life. Take the time to visualize. This helps ensure that you really and truly want something before you spend time working towards it.
- A dream starts to become a goal once you write it down. Get a paper journal and have a section called GOALS. In that section, you list the dreams that you really and truly want to become reality. Don’t worry about how you will accomplish the goal – seriously – don’t let that stop you. 99% of the big goals that you set are going to feel overwhelming and scary and you are not going to know how to get them in motion. Figuring that out will come later.
- When you have a list of goals, look at them together and decide which one to tackle first. It is a BIG mistake to get overly excited and tackle too many goals at the same time. You will likely end up frazzled & unproductive. Mentally – tackle one thing at a time. Finish one before you move on the next. Some huge goals can be broken down into smaller goals – do this whenever possible to create a sense of accomplishment
A things to consider when setting those goals:
- THINK BIG. I am so disappointed when I meet a talented soapmaker and ask her what goals she has for her business, and the reply is “cover my costs” or “break even” or “earn a little bit of money”. And then I hear about the financial struggles in her family or about a job that bores her to tears. If only she set her sights on something that would truly transform her life….
- ALIGNMENT. Be careful of setting a goal for your business that conflicts with another priority in your life. You truly have the option to create a business that looks like anything you would like it to, so make sure it does not cost you want is truly most important to you.
- AUTHENTICITY. Be sure that your goals are truly your own goals. Sometimes it is tempting to see what someone else has accomplished and simply adopt their dream as your own. We each value different things in life so expect that what you want to create in your business will also be different
- THE JOURNEY. You may not be thinking about this yet, but this journey will change you. Permanently. And hopefully for the better. If you have lived a life of working for someone else, and are now finally taking the reigns and building something that you can be immensely proud of, ask yourself “What kind of person do I want to become?” “What kind of person runs the company that I dream about owning?” And then get to work, little by little, day by day, becoming that person.
- GIVE. If you want some insurance that will protect you from giving up on the rough days (there will be many), make the mission for your business about someone other than yourself, and about something other than money. It is easy to give up if money is the only thing on the line, but if you create a business that will transform the lives of other people? That is a LOT harder to give up on.
Take the time to set thoughtful goals. They are the stepping stones to creating something amazing.
Goals eventually become the map that you will follow. Imagine going on a long road trip, and not having any idea where you want to go, or a map of how to get there?
Setting goals will save you from wandering aimlessly as you build your business.