Bill D'Alessandro

My “Vivid Vision” Goal Setting Exercise

Published 6 months ago • 3 min read

Welcome to 2024!

I hope you had an awesome holiday season.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is one of my favorite times of the year. I cancel all of my meetings, sit down with my wife, and plan for what we want to accomplish for the year ahead - both business and personal. If you haven’t done this yet, it’s not too late! I want to share exactly how I do it.

The way I start planning is to close my eyes and imagine that it’s this time next year — New Year’s Eve 2024. I ask myself all these questions as though it’s all already happened:

What have I accomplished?
What’s different now?
What’s the same?
What new routines have I built?
What new milestones have I reached?

When you have a vivid vision of exactly how you want your life to look, it’s easy to work backwards and plan for the things you need to do to get there. What do you need to start now in order for that vivid vision to be reality in 12 months? In a basic example - if your vivid vision includes having a child by the end of 2024, the time to start is now ;)

Setting personal goals

During this annual planning week, my wife and I each pick 5-7 personal goals for the year. We also make a list for our family. Some examples from this past year:

  • I established a predictable, time-blocked schedule that has made me much happier and more productive. I live and die by my calendar now, and set up SavvyCal links to enforce these time blocks when others schedule meetings with me.
  • We wanted to achieve a savings goal of X dollars.
  • We wanted to have another child. I barely missed the deadline, but Baby #3 is due in two weeks!
  • We refreshed our will, trust, and estate planning.
  • My wife started teaching our son Joey how to read, and he’s really close!
  • My wife set a goal to learn a new workout skill — she’s taken up boxing.
  • My wife wanted to beat me in chess and I am proud to say she has failed miserably :)

Once we could see these goals, we had to work backwards to get them done. My favorite example is from a few years ago: I wanted to make some close entrepreneur friends in Charlotte.

I visualized having a group of guys who could call each other, hang out, share personal stories, and have our wives know each other. Sure, I already had some great friendships, but not all of them understood entrepreneurship and most of my close business friends were virtual.

What’s the first step to making that happen? I can’t just buy friends off the shelf — as nice as that would be — so I needed to increase my opportunities to meet people. I needed to get in-person and schedule times to be together.

Where do I meet entrepreneurs? Someone recommended joining YPO, and I did, and through the organization I’ve met six other guys who are now very close friends. We meet once a month, constantly text, and our wives know each other. Exactly as I envisioned.

It starts with visualizing the exact thing you want, and planting the seeds to get it.

Setting business goals

I use this same vivid vision when it comes to setting business goals. Instead of the personal questions, I’ll ask myself questions like:

What does our marketing function look like?
What does our sales function look like?
What does our operation function look like?
How will we be different from what we are now?
How will we be the same?

Notice that I did NOT ask “how much revenue and profit will we have?” - that’s a question that generates arbitrary answers. I first focus on the how - what exactly will we do next year. Then I do revenue/profit planning last, based on the aggregated results I think each action will have.

Recently, a big business goal for us was that we needed to close our own warehouse and migrate to a 3PL. I imagined all our processes handed off to the 3PL, us moved out of our building, and me and my leadership team working out of a coworking space. This was our vivid vision.

First, we realized moving to a 3PL is a six month process to plan. You have to document your processes, get out of your lease, verify the capabilities of potential partners… the list goes on.

Next, we worked backwards from the vision and figured out the actions that would need to happen in phases to move to a 3PL.

The final step would be to envision the financial outcomes of achieving the goal. It isn’t saying, “Our goal is for profit to be up 20% this year,” it’s asking, “What are the exact savings I think the 3PL project will deliver if we complete it?” and then doing the Excel work required to make that estimate. Then apply that estimate to your financials - that will spit out the profit increase you expect for next year.

By setting the goals first, the financial budget emerges from the vivid vision — it is a bottom up approach instead of setting arbitrary targets like “grow 20%”.

What’s your big goal for 2024? Reply and tell me your single most awesome 2024 goal and I’ll share my favorites in an upcoming newsletter.

If you liked this newsletter, I have 4 places where I share more like it:

  1. 👔 The 1-1 coaching that I do with business owners (I only take on a few at a time).
  2. 🐦 I tweet (a lot) @BillDA.
  3. 🎙️ My bi-weekly podcast, Acquisitions Anonymous, where we break down real businesses that are for sale.
  4. 📬 This weekly newsletter!

Until next time,
Bill D'Alessandro

Bill D'Alessandro

I've been an entrepreneur my whole life - now I coach others.

Join my newsletter and I'll send you non-public stories, tales from the ecommerce trenches, and even opportunities to invest in private deals with me.

Read more from Bill D'Alessandro

Hey everyone, This week I'm writing about something I'm obsessed with - choosing the very best financial tooling for your business. Entrepreneurs love to hack on this stuff - credit cards, banking, lines of credit, and more. After years of research and testing countless options, I've finally nailed down what I believe is the ultimate finance stack for DTC ecommerce businesses. And today, I'm sharing it with you. Before we dive in, let me be crystal clear: none of these are sponsored mentions...

2 months ago • 5 min read

Twice each week, I break down real businesses for sale on the Acquisitions Anonymous podcast. What better way to learn about business than by studying real businesses each week? My favorite part about the podcast is the meta-lessons we learn that are more broadly applicable than just the business we are analyzing. That's what today's newsletter is about. Recently, my co-host Heather Endressen and I broke down a $2M EBITDA ecommerce business — I'm featuring it here not just because I love this...

4 months ago • 3 min read

We all know the typical ecommerce distribution models - DTC, Amazon, and Retail. Today I want to highlight two other ways businesses can reach their customers that you might not be thinking about, to help inspire you to diversify your own business: Influencer Businesses Here’s a common issue for many ecom operators: Facebook has been consistently decreasing organic reach, making you pay to reach the people who want to buy from you. I would not be surprised if one day Gmail will make you pay...

5 months ago • 2 min read
Share this post