Do I have special magical powers? Am I a witch? These were the questions a young girl asked me around this time last year.
Her eyes were shining and her face was a picture of wonderment. She thought she was too old to believe in magic but as far as she was concerned I'd just performed a trick that involved mind reading, persuasion and making money. A powerful combination.
Yes, once again you're wondering why I'm telling this odd story. Bear with me - there's a lesson here for all of us, that could really change your business for the better. You don't need to believe in magic spells, just the power of a good target.
Every year at the end of September I spend 2 days volunteering at the Masham Sheep Fair, selling programmes & beautifully designed, themed t-towels in aid of local charities such as Yorkshire Air Ambulance. It's usually cold. It can get a bit boring. Last year I was helped by Ellie, a 12 year old I hadn't met before. She was keen but dispirited when we still had 1/3 of the t-towels left on Sunday afternoon with only 2 hours of the show left. We hadn't sold anything for half an hour.
To cheer her up I said, "I'm going to sell 2 t-towels to one person in 10 minutes, I'm sure of it". Within 10 minutes a woman had come over to buy a t-towel. She hesitated and then decided to get a second one for her sister. Ellie was amazed.
I then said, "next, we're going to sell 3 separate t-towels in 10 minutes to 2 women and 1 man". Exactly that happened.
"Ok", I said, "I'm clearly a witch. So this time I'm going to sell 3 t-towels (unheard of at the show) to 1 person in the next 2 minutes". Along came a woman who bought 2 t-towels. Ellie looked surprised, then pleased then disappointed when she remembered I'd promised to sell 3. We were just about to turn to each other and commiserate when the woman turned round and said, "I've just thought of some one else who'd like one so I'll have a third one please". You can imagine Ellie's face.
At that point, we were starting to get excited. I let Ellie set the target and the time limit for each little milestone. We set a target, we sold, we laughed, we set a target, we sold, we laughed... and with 20 minutes to spare before the event closed we sold the last t-towel, even the dirty ones that had been on display.
"I'll never forget that", said Ellie. I was feeling pretty stunned too. In 32 years of the Sheep Fair, it's very unusual to sell every single t-towel, especially when the weather isn't great.
So what happened? Am I a witch? Possibly, but I think it might be less exciting than that and it could work for you too.
When you set a tangible goal, and then set some milestones and time targets, it's much easier to be successful. Most of the time we just drift. When we really set our minds to it, we can truly make a difference.
I often ask business owners if they've set a revenue target (or any other target) for the coming year. I'd say only around 30% ever do. When I ask why not, there are several reasons but one of the underlying ones is fear. Setting an ambitious target might sound boastful (even though no-one else need know!). You might not feel very good if you don't reach the target (but by setting one you'll at least be able to aim higher than usual?). Some businesses set targets but don't review them. Very few actually set targets, break them down by month or week, and then set themselves mini targets with milestones for action, reviewing activity each month. Can you guess what happens to those businesses that do exactly that?
Yes, it must be magic because the businesses I've worked with that do set targets, break them down into more achievable mini-goals with concrete action points are most successful. They're focused and motivated. There's even more magic in the air - I've noticed those business owners don't even necessarily work harder, but they focus on what's worth doing and have real clarity for their actions, not bothering with time-wasting activities.
Are you ready to say 'Abracadabra!' to make your business better? Join me in the Tourism Knowhow facebook group or add comments below, and motivate yourself and others, setting some public goals (you don't have to give full details) to make yourself more accountable - and more successful.
This doesn't just have to be about setting financial targets. I know that I have some weeks when I'm much more productive than others. The thing that makes the biggest difference to me is having a very clear plan for the week/month with definite goals I want to achieve. And I'm more likely to achieve them when I've told others about them.
So I'll tell you about my goals for the next six months. Over the coming few weeks I'm going to be adding more and more content to this website. I'm creating a series of business support tools, workshops and packages which any tourism business will be able to access - a combination of free and paid versions. In a couple of weeks I'll give more details about what these will include. Over to you...
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Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs