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Effective Goal-Setting Strategies for Expediters
As an expediter, you may feel like you don't have much control over your destiny. You're waiting on your next load. Regulations are constantly changing. And the freight market slows down or picks up, without you being able to do a thing about it.
So, how can you gain a greater sense of control over your business—and life—in an uncertain environment? It starts with effective goal-setting.
The idea here is that if you don't set your own goals, you'll find yourself constantly responding to the whims of other people's agendas. But how do you set goals that empower you--and not overwhelm or discourage you?
There are many great books and resources available that teach effective goal-setting. But here's a framework you can use as a starting point, tailored to the expediting business, that can help make the goal-setting process easier and less intimidating for you--whether you're a contract driver, owner-operator, or fleet owner.
The Big Picture: 30,000 ft. View
Be honest with yourself. What do you ultimately want to get out of your expediting career within, say, the next 5 to 10 years?
- If you're a contract driver, do you eventually want to own your own truck?
- Or, do you think you would prefer to stay a driver, at least for the foreseeable future?
- If you're an owner-operator, do you eventually want to build a fleet?
- Or, if not a fleet, do you want to operate on your own authority?
- If you're a fleet owner, do you want to expand your fleet?
- If so, by how many trucks?
- What types of trucks do you want to expand with?
To "sanity check" your answers, ask yourself WHY you want that goal? Is it a certain lifestyle you want to create or maintain? Is it to achieve financial independence within a certain timeframe?
If you don't have a strong enough WHY that's driving your goals, you likely won't have a strong enough will to do the hard work it takes to fulfill them.
The Intermediate Picture: 10,000 ft. View
Once you know what you want to get out of your business, determine what you need to do and obtain this year to help you get there.
Whether you're a driver, owner-operator or fleet owner, these questions can apply to you:
- What do you need to do in 2017 to help you progress toward your "big picture" goals?
- What resources--time, money, knowledge, assets, people--can help you?
- What type of information and education do you lack?
- What type of mentors should you be seeking out?
- How much money do you need to save? How will you do it?
Think of 3 to 5 intermediate goals--or steps--that will push you toward your "big picture."
For example, if you're a contract driver who eventually wants to own a truck, your intermediate (2017) goals might look something like this list:
- Interview 3 to 5 successful owner-operators to get their advice.
- Seek education opportunities, such as registering for Expedite Expo.
- Save $X,000 for truck down payment and startup expenses.
- Create short list of top three prospective carriers to lease on to.
The Near-Term Picture: Ground-Level View
Now, look at your intermediate picture goals. What can you do this month, this week, and today that will contribute to achieving those goals?
This is where you start breaking down your intermediate goals into all the steps required to complete those goals.
So, go back to the contract driver example above and take the first goal--"Interview 3 to 5 successful owner-operators to get their advice." Here's how you could break this down.
- Research ExpeditersOnline.com and Expedite Now and look for examples of successful owner-operators you would like reach out to for an interview.
- Create list of the "top 10" owner-operators you would be interested in speaking with.
- Determine how to best contact them. You may be able to find their email address posted on a website or you could reach them via LinkedIn, if they're on the social network.
- Craft an email or LinkedIn message requesting a time to call them on getting their real-world insights and advice on how to succeed as an expedite owner-operator.
- Reach out to the first three people on your list.
- Continue down the list until you've scheduled your goal number of interviews.
How, then, would you incorporate this task list into your Ground-Level goals? Here's how it could look.
- This Month: Interview three owner-operators.
- This Week: Reach out to the first five expedite owner-operators on my list.
- Today: Begin researching and building list of potential owner-operators to interview.
The Bottom Line
Yes, goal-setting is hard work but it doesn't have to be intimidating. And when you do take the time—and do the work—to set your own agenda, you'll gain greater control over the direction of your business...and your life.