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Set Goals Now for the New Year, and Avoid the Pitfalls That Can Derail Your Success!

business coach maia Dec 21, 2020

by Mike Metzger


If you want to maximize the odds that you’ll be successful — in anything — you need to set goals. No matter what you do in life, you should have a clear destination in mind, and when you think about it, a goal is a destination.

Assessing your needs, setting goals that will get you there and, when necessary, reevaluating those goals are crucial elements in the process, and the beginning of the year is a great time to address them. On a personal level, your goals might pertain to having better relationships, earning a college degree, acquiring a bigger house or even becoming a better person. However, because MASuccess is about the martial arts business, I will assume that you’re reading this article because you want to set and then achieve goals related to your business.

There are many goals you can set for your business, and most of them likely relate to some type of growth. Therefore, to achieve them, you must understand what mechanisms impact a school’s growth and then excel in them. Those categories can include enrollment, retail sales, retention, event hosting and marketing. If that list seems daunting, know that regardless of the goal, the steps you must take first to understand it and then to achieve it are the same.

The martial arts business is like all other businesses in that success revolves around three universal goals for financial growth:

  • More customers
  • More transactions per customer
  • More money per transaction

Too often, school owners set goals based solely on student count. That happens because they don’t understand the second and third points.

Another thing you must keep in mind is that five profit centers pertain to school growth. They are:

  • New students
  • Special events
  • Upgrades
  • Retail
  • Retention

Anything you do to make your school more successful should fit into one of these five categories. When setting goals for the year, you should address all five of them. The more specific you can be when creating goals, the better chance you have of accomplishing them. With that in mind, I will break them down and offer a blueprint you might wish to follow.


Know Your Numbers

To set realistic goals, you first must know your numbers. How else can you avoid establishing a goal that’s based on fantasy? It’s important to challenge yourself, but that challenge should be an attainable one. Similarly, you don’t want to set the bar low just so you can feel good about yourself when you clear it. Knowing your numbers starts with answering some basic questions:

  • How much is your average customer worth to your business?
  • How many new enrollments do you get each month?
  • What percentage of those enrollments come from your various marketing efforts?
  • On average, how long do students stay?
  • On average, at what rank do students leave?
  • On average, at what age do students quit?

The answers to such questions will allow you to ascertain which areas of your business are suffering and then focus on improving them. That can be a time saver because it will prevent you from spending time trying to maximize every part of your business — even those that are doing well. This example will illustrate what I mean:

Say you’re a school owner who believes you need to market more because you aren’t getting enough new students. Is your problem really related to marketing? What if your school is signing up six students a month but you’re getting 20 inquiries a month? That would indicate that the problem isn’t your marketing; it’s the process you’re using to set up appointments or secure enrollments.

You cannot maximize your chance of hitting the goals you establish if you don’t know where the problems are. There’s a reason business leaders adhere to a simple maxim: Numbers don’t lie.


Set Your Goals

Once you know your numbers, you can intelligently set goals for your business. I always recommend people start by setting an overall goal for the year, then break it down into quarterly goals and finally monthly goals. If you have the ability and the time to continue this process to the point of creating weekly goals and even daily goals, that’s even better.

Why would you want to expend the effort needed to establish weekly or daily goals? Because that way, if you’re off your goal, you’ll know it within days, and that makes it easier to take remedial action.


Know the “Why” Behind Each Goal

When setting a goal, you need to paint a mental picture of why you’re doing that. If it’s a financial goal, what will hitting that number mean? Will it mean you can get a new car? Will it mean your child can attend the college of his or her choice? Will you be able to afford a new house?

Regardless of the goal, you need to stay focused on the reason you established it and why it’s important. The journey to the attainment of the goal requires perseverance and discipline; you’ll need more than just the satisfaction of hitting a goal to keep you moving forward, especially when things get tough. Having a vision of what you’ll be able to do for yourself and others once you succeed can provide that motivation.


Be Willing to Change the Way You Think

It’s often said that “Doing the same thing will get you only the same results.” There’s a lot of truth in this. To be successful, you need to not only acknowledge its validity but also act accordingly.

To attain your goals, you may have to change your way of thinking about the way you do business, possibly even the way you teach. Remember that while making a minor change might yield a minor improvement, you may have to make a major change to reach your goal. The first step is to acknowledge this. The second step is to be willing to do it. The third step is figuring out what needs to be changed and what it needs to be changed to.


Create a Roadmap

Once you’ve determined what needs to be changed, you have to make a plan to do so. Whether your goal entails making a certain amount of money or getting a certain number of new students, you need to ascertain the best way to accomplish that. You must create a roadmap that will get you where you want to go.

Example: If you set a goal of enrolling 20 students, what’s the best way to do so? Just promising yourself that you’ll try harder won’t cut it. What you need is details, something like…

I will talk with 30 students each week to see if they have a friend or family member who may be interested in a free week of training. From past experience, I can estimate that 20 of those 30 students will take a VIP pass, that half of those will give one to a friend and that half of those friends will call for details. I estimate that I will set up three appointments and get one new student as a result. Now, how do I get the other 19 new students?

You can see why it’s crucial to spend time creating a viable roadmap. Only in this way will you know exactly what you need to do to increase your odds of hitting the goal you’ve set.

Such a roadmap should be created for every facet of your business that you want to improve.


Keep an Open Mind

For any businessperson, the biggest obstacle to success is being closedminded. That often stems from believing that you already know everything you need to know to maximize your business.

For the new year, I recommend admitting that you don’t know what you don’t know. Remind yourself that there are people who are doing exactly what you’re doing but are doing it more efficiently and seeing better results. This will keep you humble, which is key to growing your school. Even better, it will remind you that an open mind is essential to lifelong learning.

The intelligent way to proceed is to secure the services of a coach. Very few people in any arena, including business and athletics, are able to reach their potential without a coach. Consider Floyd Mayweather, Jr. He retired undefeated after having won 15 world titles. However, there was never a time when Mayweather said, “I know how to win and be great. I don’t need a team or coach behind me. I’ve got this!”

Mayweather understood what it takes to be great and stay great. It’s no different for a martial arts school owner. Consultants stand ready to help you take your business to levels you never thought possible. Sadly, there are also consultants who will take you to the bank and not deliver what they promise. The reason some school owners don’t believe in consultants is they or someone they know has been burned by an unscrupulous group or individual and they wrongly believe all consultants are that way. In reality, there definitely are groups that know what they’re doing and that have consultants who know how to help you.


Money in the Martial Arts

Some people in our industry — and this may be the only business in the world that has professionals who think this way — believe that if you make money, you’re a sellout or a “belt factory.” I’ll never understand this way of thinking.

In any business, making money is important. Otherwise, the business folds. The difficult part of making money in the martial arts is knowing how to do it without jeopardizing your program or your curriculum. That takes us back to the notion of knowing what you have to change.


Don’t Let Fear Stop You

And that is my proven outline for setting goals that will boost your business in the new year. My final bit of advice is this: Don’t let fear get in your way. Don’t fall victim to the human tendency to make excuses that let you off the hook when it comes to making necessary changes.

Yes, we all have a fear of failing. What separates us is some people take the leap anyway, and they are typically the ones who win in the long run. Fear can stop the others from doing what needs to be done — but only if they let it. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

A school owner says, “I make plenty of money. I’m happy. To make more money, I will need to have more than 100 students, and that will cause the quality of instruction to go down.”

These statements are nothing but excuses. Nobody buys them except the person saying them. Successful school owners avoid thinking in ways that limit what they can accomplish.

The solution, of course, it to have the discipline to set goals and hold yourself accountable. This will enable you to accomplish great things in life. Know that success is never easy. It takes commitment, hard work and, most important, honesty with yourself. As you work toward your ultimate goal, you’ll be tempted to make excuses about why you took certain actions. You occasionally might find yourself thinking, The people are different here. Or The economy isn’t doing well. Or My business is in a very small town. The statements might be valid, but they’re not valid reasons for not achieving your goals.

Stay the course, even when it seems easier to give up. And remember that the course you’ve outlined includes a self-correcting mechanism. Make a decision to sacrifice today for the rewards of tomorrow, and be willing to do what others in this business aren’t willing to do.


Mike Metzger is a consultant for the Martial Arts Industry Association and the owner of 14 martial arts schools.



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