Yes, I know that this blog is mostly about the dot com lifestyle and how you can make a serious living online (on part-time hours at that) from the comfort of your home or while enjoying the sunshine in Costa Rica. That being said, most readers likely have at least some experience with a more “traditional” job, even if you are mostly interested in getting out of the rat race completely.
The thing is that even if you want to be independent and make money online, you can still learn a lot from more traditional businesses and how they operate… so long as you put a bit of a different spin on these lessons and messages. A terrific example of this is the typical annual (or quarterly or whenever) performance review.
Please Take a Seat
Your manager or supervisor drags you into her office and the two of you go over what you accomplished in the past year and where you came up short. Based on the details of your performance review, you may have reasonable justification to request a raise in salary. If things didn’t go so well, your manager may have justification for holding you back from a promotion or sending you in for more training.
When you run your own online business, whatever it may be, you can go through a similar kind of performance review on yourself too. Did you grow the number of followers on social media? Were you able to increase the unique monthly visitors on your blog? Did you pursue more private advertising and sponsored content opportunities? These are all good questions to ask.
But they all suffer from the same significant flaw: they’re looking in the past. They’re looking at what already happened and, as you know, you can’t change the past. You can only change the future based on what you do in the present.
Looking Ahead Before Looking Back
What if you were to think about this idea in a completely different way? Instead of looking back at the past year (or quarter or month or whatever), you were to look ahead for the upcoming year (or quarter or month)? If you wanted to have a glowingly positive performance review at the end of the year, what would that look like? What do you see when you gaze into the crystal ball?
“Jerry, you had a truly impressive year with your Internet marketing efforts. You more than doubled the number of followers you have on Instagram and the engagement rate is truly tremendous. This is coupled with a significant increase in blog traffic and in affiliate income too. That ebook really added a lot of subscribers to your email list.”
We want to strike the beautiful balance between being realistic with our expectations and being ambitious with our goals. You don’t want to set goals so lofty that they’re impossible to achieve, but you don’t want them to be so modest as to be practically worthless and meaningless either. A proactive performance review is similar to goal-setting, except the real objective is to travel through time in your mind’s eye and truly envision what you want to see in the future.
You Take the Good, You Take the Bad
Just like a regular performance review, then, you must not only consider the positive outcomes that you wish to see in your proactive performance review, but also your potential areas for improvement. Trade-offs are inevitable and unavoidable, so by focusing your efforts on Instagram and your ebook, for instance, you necessarily won’t have the time and attention to devote to other possible areas of growth. Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot dedicate yourself to.
What do you want to have accomplished in one year’s time? Where do you want your online business to be? Will you be sipping on umbrella drinks on a tropical beach, while checking on your growing affiliate earnings?