A while back, I had a conversation with a coach I was thinking of hiring to help me with my business. Yes, even a business coach needs a coach! No matter how good we are at what we do, I believe everyone needs an outside person to help them.
This coach began our get acquainted session with “How much money do you want to make?” At first I was stymied because I didn’t have an exact figure but had a range instead, and she required one single number for us to even talk. Her plan was to get a number and then work backward to figure out how to make it happen, thus she needed a specific figure from me to even talk about it. Whether or not my figure was realistic given where I was at the time was not a factor for her.
Overall, it’s not a bad idea to start here but there were two big problems with using this approach so rigidly. First, it’s simplistic to just think you can name a figure off the top of your head and make it so. There’s lots of factors that go into building a business at any level and there are no guarantees that you can get to a revenue figure just because you named it. It seems to encourage an almost absurd level of speculation. I would say it’s more realistic to look at how much business you are doing now, how much you can expect to increase based on specific changes you’ve made and then add on some additional due to working smarter.
The second and bigger problem is that it ignores lifestyle choices. There’s loads of ways to make big money, but I’m not willing to do them all. I’m also not willing to work 7 days a week, spend hours a day in LA traffic or neglect my family. How much money you can make is impacted by what you are willing to do to make it. Since some lifestyle choices are not reversable in the short term, I would even say that this is where any income goal has to start. It’s much more realistic to say “I want to make as much money as I can given the following lifestyle conditions……” If you hate your lifestyle lots of money won’t make you satisfied.
Although I caution against using a specific income goal so rigidly, that doesn’t mean it’s always a bad idea. It’s important to know how much you need every month to keep your business open, to cover your own obligations and on top of those two things to have some fun. If you have no idea what those figures are then you’ve got no way to measure if your activities are working and that’s a recipe for business failure.